Commercial exploitation of green issues

BACK in the 1970s, a brilliant album cover for the band Caravan featured adog holding up a sign saying: "The world is going to the humans". How horribly true that complaint seems today.

BACK in the 1970s, a brilliant album cover for the band Caravan featured a

dog holding up a sign saying: "The world is going to the humans". How horribly true that complaint seems today.

Global warming is no longer a theory, it's a fact. We may not know too much

about the causes, or the ultimate effects: by the time we do, it may well be too late to prevent them.

But all the gathering evidence suggests humanity is going to hell in a handcart - with GW Bush's America providing engine-power.

For every organic vegetable I eat, every can I recycle, every cup of Fair Trade coffee I brew, I feel the might of Esso and McDonald's pushing the other way. But you do what you can, don't you?

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The new blockbuster movie The Day After Tomorrow depicts the end of the

world as we know it. Does this mean we are finally waking up to the possibility of global catastrophe of our own making?

Or does it simply mean Hollywood, as ever, has an eye on the entertainment

and money-making possibilities of popular fear?

The film's been accused of poor characterisation, but when were disaster

movies ever about the acting? The special effects are, of course, startling, and that's the point.

Equally inevitably, the science is apparently pretty poor. One climatologist

reckoned Batman And Robin, with Arnie Schwarzenegger as the demented Mr

Freeze, was more believable.

But at least The Day After Tomorrow, in which melting polar caps plunge the

world suddenly into a new Ice Age, brings the subject into public awareness. If nothing else, it provides a platform for more serious discussion.

And there certainly is a serious side.

n In Europe the last decade was the hottest in 500 years.

n Wildfire, drought and flooding have devastated communities.

n Near-record temperatures have hit Canada, the US, China and Russia.

n Polar ice is melting, ice shelves splintering, and sea levels rising.

It really does make sense if you're buying a house in East Anglia to

consider the height of the land. Too close to current sea level, and your

home could be under water before you've paid off the mortgage.

The fact that oil is running out - some experts give it only 30 years or so

- may trigger more wars like the one in Iraq. But it could also be the saving of the planet, as oil-burning is a huge factor in the greenhouse effect.

In fact, the pros and cons of oil, and our huge reliance on it, will probably be the biggest political, economic and environmental issue of our lifetimes.

But don't take my word for it - I'm no more a scientist than I am a movie

producer. If you want help sorting fact from science fiction, visit the

excellent website and be prepared for a few real shocks.

A PARTICULARLY foul piece of literature dropped through my letterbox this

week, and straight into the recycling bin.

Now, I'm not normally in favour of censorship: the stifling of free speech

seems to me a worse danger than that of occasionally letting idiots spout

forth. But this hate-filled leaflet from the BNP must have sailed pretty

close to the legal wind.

Of course, they claim - even on this very election leaflet - not to be

racist. How they can get away with that on the same page as a catalogue of

vile lies and insinuation about immigrants and asylum-seekers is beyond me.

Is there no law that says statements made in election communications should

be true?

If they can't be done under race relations law, why not the Trade

Descriptions Act?

They also claim to be democrats. For the time being they are. Hitler and

Mussolini only cancelled democracy after using it to gain power.

The punchline on the leaflet is a rather poor joke. "Ordinary people like

you", it says, "voting BNP".

Ordinary people like me have too much sense and decency to do that.

I hope you will vote in next Thursday's elections. Vote for anyone - Green,

Lib-Dem, Respect, UKIP, Independent, Labour or Tory - anyone but the

Brutish and Nasty Party.