A rant about journalistic idiocy


Twice in the last week the Guardian has excelled itself in printing stories so stupid that I had to check to make sure I hadn’t woken up on April 1st. The publication of a new report on climate change has been the occasion of a great deal of speculation, not least in the Grauniad, and first off the chocks was a report that scientists are thinking of spraying aerosols of some compound of nitrogen into the upper atmosphere in order to create conditions that screen the earth from sun – that’s to say that make artificial cloud. Then later another report came up with the brilliant idea that maybe advanced robotic bees could pollinate plants, replacing the ones we’ve already killed with neonicotinoids.  Today we learn that the government is planning to relax some of the rules about fracking, and yesterday we learned that the new nuclear power station being built at Hinkley has reached the same point at which the similar station being built in France hit the skids when they realized they hadn’t quite figured out how to make it.  You couldn’t make this stuff up but they still do – all the time.

I’m not seeing anything that mentions a change of direction and so, like the prophets of Baal – (you’ll possibly have to look that one up, it’s a very funny story in the Old Testament that ends badly) – the new High Priests in their sharp suits are dancing around the altar of science and technology with increasing frenzy hoping for something “to come along soon”. Outside our flat there is often a huge hummer sized truck with a five litre engine parked overnight. It has never seen grass or mud and its owner almost certainly has no need of such a monstrous beast except possibly to impress or intimidate other people. And there it is in a nutshell. To steal a phrase, we have seen the problem – it is us!

The reason we have seen a catastophic fall in insect numbers is well known, but the agrichemical business are fighting against the evidence all the way to the graveyard. Monsanto/Bayer claim that all the research shows that glyphosate is harmless but it only emerged in the recent lawsuit against them that they haven’t actually tested the formulations they actually sell which include other ingredients. I wonder how it would go in my defence if I was found with all the ingredients of some explosive and then tried to argue that each was perfectly innocuous on its own.

We’re living on a sick earth and, like the leeches and cuppers of the past, all we can think to do is more of the same until the patient finally expires.  Another pint I think, Landlord!

Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

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