British environment secretary Thérèse Coffey is supposedly in a pot of boiling water for having urged Britons to learn to like turnips instead of all the nicer food they can’t afford any more. As Zoe Wood chortled in The Guardian, “With a love of turnips more commonly associated with the long-suffering manservant Baldrick in Blackadder, Coffey handed her critics the kind of material they could normally only dream of.” Except The Guardian is in no position to chortle since the cost-of-living crisis is due to the kinds of energy policies they have long pushed. When politicians and journalists of all stripes have been waging relentless war on the energy that brings a variety of fresh food from afar, and pushing the “100 mile diet” which in Britain in winter is pretty much limited to neeps and tatties, who’s really to blame if Britons are back to the kind of culinary choices they had in the Middle Ages?
We don’t normally go in for Middle-Ages bashing. But while we’re not especially keen to subsist on pease porridge in the pot nine days old, even though the stuff actually sounds rather better on Wikipedia than in the nursery rhyme, we’d rather swallow it than the hypocrisy of people who spend most of their waking hours arguing for policies to impoverish the populace then complain about the high cost of living.
Ms. Wood, “consumer affairs correspondent“ at the Guardian, is definitely in that category. She hectors readers that “Your favourite fashion brand may be fuelling runaway climate change/ The fast-fashion boom is fuelling a rise in the use of synthetic fibres made from fossil fuels, study shows.” And plays Grinch with “This year British households are expected to buy as many as 8m real Christmas trees, but with growing concern about the climate crisis, many consumers are wondering if this is the greenest option.” (Complete with advice to stick with the same old decorations. Perhaps a turnip you didn’t get to before it hardened.)
Of course it turns out both kinds of tree are lethal to the planet. “According to the Carbon Trust, a 6.5ft artificial tree is responsible for about 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions” and Gaia forbid you should buy a non-local wooden tree. Better to grow your own, next to the turnips.
Her love of locality doesn’t seem to extend to, say, Brexit. Instead she notes that people are heckling Ms. Coffey in all sorts of ways including “Was a bounty of this unloved root vegetable part of the promised Brexit dividend? people asked, as they shared doctored images of campaign buses emblazoned with ‘forget tomatoes, let’s eat turnips instead’.” But does she want them flying in fresh figs from Chile?
More broadly, where does anyone get off the turnip truck whining about the predictable consequences of policies they fervently backed? Including Canada’s NDP that repeatedly voted to raise taxes on home heating fuels then complained of the high cost of home heating fuels. And here we are not excusing the British Tories, or the Canadian kind, because they claim to believe in the climate crisis and under Boris Johnson did their best to create an economic crisis based on it, with great success if you like that sort of thing. And now a mealy-mouthed (or pease-mouthed) spokesman for current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spewed this pablum:
“We don’t believe it is for us to tell people what they should or shouldn’t buy – that is entirely a matter for them. I think what the secretary of state was doing was setting out the importance of celebrating the produce that we grow here in the UK but, ultimately, it is for individuals to decide what food they wish to buy.”
Is it, though? And how about what kind of car they drive? Oh goodness no. Your turnips will be delivered by EV or not at all come the total ban on new “petrol” and diesel cars in the UK by 2030, again courtesy of the “Conservatives” there. And don’t think of choosing to heat your home with natural gas just because, the Telegraph warns, the first of “six reasons why a heat pump might not be the best option for your home” is “The cost is prohibitive.”
Of course the Guardian is all over the inequity of the poor being unable to afford to heat their homes to which the answer is more expensive unreliable energy. And in Canada, Blacklock’s says a government “Evaluation Of The Core Climate Change Mitigation Program”:
“warns casualties of climate change policy may include families that cannot afford higher fuel costs, oil and gas workers and Indigenous people. There was no evidence federal agencies were aware of the consequences, it said.”
Well, no. Just because they are pushing the policies, why would they?