A late charge by Thomas into the green, ends in bloodshed and disappointment. If only they had consulted Professor Bastion.
Thomas has gone green. Our dear girl Hermione wasn’t even born when Brundtland turned us all into Swampy so Thomas has come to it rather late in the day. Anyway Thomas doesn’t listen to me when I tell him that we economists had the answers years ago.
Truth be told: I was quite a green activist in my 20s before I got serious. I was actually inspired to study economics when I realised we had to fix economics if we were going to design a sustainable economy. Of course it was we economists who were doing all the hard work to define what sustainable development meant. Most of my green friends thought driving a Range Rover was a stand for the natural environment.
But I do remember long nights talking to David Pierce (pioneer of environmental economics no less). A wonderful and warm man. Thomas thought he was trying to, shall we say, compromise my virtue. Utter nonsense of course but Tommy has always been a jealous thing. (Has to be said David was a bit of a dish).
I explained to Thomas that it was really a matter of managing our environmental capital so it didn’t degrade but kept providing services into the long-term. He said I was talking “a pile of degraded environmental capital.”
He’s so addled with the zeal of the convert that it’s beyond him that the environment has to be valued in real pounds if it’s to be taken seriously by the likes of the Treasury. And I never cease to be amazed by the creative ways economists have, over the last few decades, come up with ways to put values in Sterling on trees, fish, ecosystems and the like. Quite a miracle. You have got to love spreadsheets.
As a result of this ingenuity the City can now really think about buying and selling natural capital, which is such an advance. The environment now counts with the people that matter.
I am so glad young Dieter Helm is carrying the torch for this idea of so-called natural capital. Everyone knows he’s is such a clever chap and no-one knows that better than himself. Its quite remarkable how he has managed to get his very own Natural Capital Committee set up by government where he can hold court. Thomas insists it demonstrates that even when what you know is quite remarkable, who you know wins the day. I think that’s a little unfair. Of course, none of Dieter’s ideas are new but he does put them so well.
Thomas, meanwhile is determined that we should have an organic vegetable garden where currently we have a green lawn with rose beds. He is also making a big thing of sacrificing his beloved roses in the name of saving the planet. He discovered they needed rather too many petrochemically derived pesticides and nutrients. I did rather like having our own roses on display in our flat. Still I can buy them in the local florist.
He got the rest of the residents all fired up too. Of course the management company has a sound environmental policy and is very supportive. They have even lined up the local mayor to “break the ground” to create the garden with local press in attendance.
After all that, it was so unfortunate that the mayor ended up hospitalised. He decided to try to look heroic taking a pick to break up the turf only to lose his grip on the downswing and stab it into his foot.
He then started Morris dancing and swearing in a most un-mayoral manner. His mayoral regalia were all over the place and there was rather a lot of blood. The press had a field day (pun intended) with their headlines. “Gored Mayor” and “Pain of office” – that sort of thing.
It was only Thomas who actually took action. He used the mayor’s ruff as a compress while ringing 999. Luckily Frank – the same ambulance driver who had picked me up when I had my little accident with the kitchen knife – was in the vicinity and came quite quickly.
As he loaded the mayor into the ambulance, he told me that they had had a new incentive system designed to deal with the current NHS funding crisis as he knew I would be interested. In the future he would be paid a bonus if he persuaded people to stay at home rather than come in the ambulance.
He was also booked onto a behavioural economics course to help him persuade potential patients that they would be better off staying at home. Apparently, people tended to do what an authority figure like him said, especially if he pointed out all the risks of unspeakable infections that go with a hospital visit.
Anyway it turned out that the developers who constructed our retirement home had, quite efficiently I suppose, only put down three inches of topsoil to cover over the crushed concrete from the demolition of the previous building on the site. (Perhaps that’s why they called it Ash Court). So it looks like an organic vegetable garden is out of the question. Thomas is not pleased. The mayor wants to sue.
The struggle is, it seems, quite real.