Friday, February 27, 2004

A pet hate: Countryfile

This BBC program runs every Sunday morning. It pretends to be about the countryside but seems to be a soapbox for environmentalists.

For example, a recent debate looked at the way in which food is now a global business, with food in supermarkets coming from all over the world. The argument is that there must be something illogical about food travelling large distances, especially if similar food is available closer to home. But as transport costs fall, and the willingness of people to pay a bit more for varied produce increases, so it becomes practical to produce in the developing world with much lower labour costs. This may use up more natural resources than if we ate a more limited range of foods, or produced more at home. But resources are not nearly as big a problem as environmentalists would have us believe.

The real issue is not resource productivity but labour productivity. How do we produce more for less labour input? That, to my mind, is the measure of progress - to allow us to escape physical toil and a battle for survival, freed to do more interesting things, like discussing the state of the world, and its future.

The upshot of a green approach is always to try to reduce the impact of humans on the world - which tends to lead to the conclusion that we should just do less. Surely what we want are longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives, not a conservative desire to stick with what we've got?

And that green approach runs right through Countryfile. Any chance of another point of view?

BBC - Nature Environment - Countryfile#2

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