A Tale of Blue Bigots and Green Blobs

badger on blob copyIt’s a while since we’ve read anything in the news quite as entertaining as Owen Paterson’s recent tirade against the ‘Green Blob’ (the one wot done him in).

Judging from the reactions on Twitter and in the media, it seems we weren’t alone. Many of the responses were as or more entertaining than Mr Paterson’s original piece, especially the one from Greenpeace, falsely accused by Paterson of burning him in effigy.

(Greenpeace has politely suggested the accusation was a genuine error on the part of the former Minister but is still waiting for an apology…)

In the meantime, Damian Carrington, Head of Environment at the Guardian newspaper, has written a delightfully cutting analysis of Paterson’s recent outburst. Amongst other things, Carrington suggests that Paterson’s vitriolic outburst is in fact a ‘descent into paranoia’ and that his climate change denial is the ‘ground zero’ of his ‘meltdown’. But according to Carrington, it’s when he starts talking about the ‘highly paid globe-trotters of the Green Blob who besieged him’ that he begins to sound ‘really unhinged’. Carrington also makes reference to the ‘cognitive dissonance’ between Paterson and the greens, a concept that is probably far beyond the grasp of the UK’s former climate-denying, biodiversity-exterminating Secretary of State for Environment.

Another piece by Carrington’s colleague, George Monbiot, is equally scathing. It begins with ‘Beware the self-pity of the governing classes’ and concludes by noting that Paterson is ‘choked with resentment and self-pity, apparently convinced that despite a life of wealth and power he represents the whipped and wounded.’

If only we ‘Green Blobbers’ had even a fraction of the influence and funds that Paterson bitterly credits us with. How different our world would be. For a start we would not be in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction – a global wave of species extinction caused almost entirely by humans.

Nor would we be teetering on the brink of all manner of potential catastrophes due to the impacts of climate change on our agriculture, our freshwater resources, our coastal cities and towns and much more, thereby putting at risk not only our livelihoods, health and wellbeing but also those of future generations for a long time to come. Again, like the on-going mass extinctions, all caused primarily by our actions.

We’d even wager that if the Green Blob really did rule, we’d have less poverty and inequality and fewer wars #JustGuessing.

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The scary thing is that to a not insignificant minority, especially among the land- owning classes, Paterson is a hero – a much maligned and sorely wronged figure – a ‘true blue countryman’.

It’s seriously worrying if Paterson’s supporters believe every word of his recent article in the Telegraph. But as Carrington notes, right wing environmentalism has a long history and it’s unlikely that Paterson speaks for all of the conservative right. Given his alleged keenness to ‘out-Ukip Ukip’, it may be that his real political home lies outside of the conservative party, perhaps within the British equivalent of an American-style Tea Party as suggested by Monbiot.

Paterson’s departure was certainly met with a sense of relief by the diverse members of the Green Blob, a great deal of merriment and perhaps even a little gloating or at least a feeling of vindication. Unfortunately, a change of Environment Minister does not necessarily translate into any real change in policy. Indeed, the draft Infrastructure Bill, which is currently being debated in Parliament, confirms what we knew all along – badgers are but the tip of the iceberg.

If the draft Infrastructure bill goes through in its current form, it will have major implications for what remains of Britain’s wildlife, forests and other natural systems as well as threatening on-going and future re-introductions of native species that have gone extinct in Britain.

The badger cull symbolizes all that’s wrong with the way we treat our natural environment and native species in Britain. It shows what little regard this government has for science or evidence-based policies, given that the expert scientific consensus is that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to reducing TB in cattle, and this based on a mountain of data gathered at great cost over many years.

What’s even more worrying is that if Britain, a supposedly developed country and a nation of nature lovers is like this, then what hope is there for nature anywhere – or indeed for us?