Monday, 18 January 2010

Green and Greener

Sky Competition UAE Desert Challenge 2009 Grig...Image by Sky Competition via Flickr

I know I'm a bit hard on Gulf News occasionally and it does, believe me, make me feel guilty. But sometimes the chaps over at the Newspaper That Tells It Like It Is do stuff that has me shaking my head in incredulous disbelief.

Today's 450g slab of papery joy contains a shiny supplement titled 'Go Green'. It's one of those special supplements so beloved of newspapers here - the ones where you get a page of the uncritical, slavish blether of your choice printed about you as long as you advertise. The ones nobody in their right minds reads. Ever.

In fact, 54 pages (including covers) of shiny, high-ceramic glossy paper are dedicated to the green message - and, of course, not even a nod to the concept of carbon neutrality or perhaps the advantages of not wasting something like 11 tonnes of paper (if my calculations are correct, 100g per supplement, 112,000 claimed run by GN) to produce something that is purely a vehicle for printing advertising for profit. Its informational value or the fact that it is in fact a genuine attempt to educate and inspire people is something I would love to see someone try and defend.

This next bit isn't going to make me popular among a number of people, including those I count as friends.

The same issue of GN (which, incidentally, also covers the IRENA summit in Abu Dhabi) also illustrates its tabloid section with the headline 'Green Day' and a cover image of a Toyota FJ Cruiser churning up the green desert like a little blue plough, following in the tracks of many others that have destroyed the delicate plant life on the side of the dune. This car would have been one of the thousand or so cars that annually plough a great scar of tracks through the desert in the name of the Gulf News Fun Run.

The desert here is a delicate biome and never more so than when it greens after rain. To show it being destroyed by hundreds of cars, the carpet of tentative life torn up and mashed into a muddy gash next to the words, 'Participants... enjoyed the unique sight of the desert in bloom.' shows a most definite lack of understanding of the word irony.

Now I have to admit I'm deeply conflicted here. A long term resident, I often drive in the desert and have done so for many years in parties of varying sizes.

I have always had a mild aversion to the idea of a thousand cars churning up the desert, believing (probably wrongly) that smaller parties of drivers would have a lesser impact than hundreds at a time. At the same time, the Fun Run is a much-loved annual event that brings a large number of people together in their enjoyment of the outdoors - and I have to record that the marshals do ensure that litter and the like are not left behind.

But today's Gulf News gleefully slaps the word GREEN on two activities that are most definitely negative in their impact on our environment. I guess it's one thing to proselytise in naggy 'go green' editorial campaigns, but quite another to truly practice what you preach.
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alexander... said...

Don't go too hard on me, Mr Jack and Mr Goat...

Grumpy Goat said...

For most of the green bits at the start of the route, the GNFDers largely stuck to a single track, following existing trafficked routes.

Check the route in a week or two. I reckon you won't be able to tell that anyone was ever there.

It is a shame that some of the participants chose to hurl their litter out of the car windows instead of into the bin bag that Gulf News provided. Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

Quite right. I briefly worked for the very department that churns out these supplements, easily the most unedifying experience of my life. I was asked to produce a 'green issue' mag for one of the Ministries, it was almost impossible to pull off as naturally it had to have positive spin. Al Nisr didn't give a toss what I put in it providing it made the ministry in question look 'visionary'. I still wake up in cold sweats at the horrors that await me for facilitating the birth of that monster. The Atlantis Hotel crushed the whimsy 'Free Sammy' (the whale shark) campaign by commissioning a wafer thin supplement ahead of the launch. It would be funny if it weren't so sad. GR

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