For those of you who don’t know, Jeremy Clarkson has been a successful, witty and forthright newspaper and tv journalist in the UK, specialising in cars. He’s been described as ‘a dazzling hero of political incorrectness’ and a ‘skilful propagandist for the motoring lobby’. (See wikipedia here.) His disrespect for the environment may border on the pathological – and possibly hypocritical, given his nice English countryside home – but he has got balls. I’d describe him as a colourful motormouth.
Why the introduction? Well, I’d be really curious to know what JC (apologies to those for whom these initials are sacred) thinks of this. Namely, the Honda F1 team ditching corporate advertising and covering their car with a satellite image of the earth –
Their reason, according to their website myearthdream.com, is
to use Formula One’s huge global reach to highlight a huge global problem.
Now, I’m no Formula One fan – I find it mind-bendingly dull – and I haven’t seen the car in action. And the irony of such high-polluting-performance cars highlighting the issue of anthropogenic (human-made) global warming shouldn’t demand too much scripting. But Honda’s move is very heartening.
Yes, the problem of human-made global warming – assuming you accept it’s real – is complex and, for many like me, disconcerting.
Yes, there seem to be no easy answers – with carbon offsetting, for example, being given a healthy dose of scepticism here.
Yes, there might be something to be said for both the Epicurean response – eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die – and the Ostrich approach – bury our heads in the sand as any response at this stage is inadequate – to the problem.
And, yes, it may well seem nutty that such polluting engines of capitalism as car manufacturers (or the entertainment industry, in the case of the Live Earth concerts) are propelling communications on this issue.
But I find the moves of the likes of Honda heartening because they encourage a reconfiguring of our perceptions; having the earth on an F1 car zooming around and around a race track invites a host of new associations. Seeing it might remind us that ours is one planet amongst many shuttling around the cosmos. Or that when driving down mindless motorways, we are still situated on this jewel of an earth. Or that F1 can display beautiful imagery for its own sake, without trying to sell something. Or that we can take the wheel and take on the changes that need to be made. Whatever it might be, this opportunity to reframe the boundaries of our daily perceiving is welcome. I’ve heard it many times that sustainable development is an important concept hampered by the fact that it’s just not sexy. Well, this kicks that apperception into the long grass… (for the lads out there, just think of lithe water babes and wood nymphs positioning and gliding themselves off the body of this car. Drone.)
And being a graduate of the Systems discipline at the UK’s Open University who researched such matters, I was pleasantly surprised to find Honda has defined its ‘System to Promote Environmental Activities‘. (If you’re brave enough, you can find my whole PhD thesis online here.)
So here’s one for Jeremy Clarkson, and if he’s passing through North London at any time soon, I’d be more than happy to buy him a drink. And no, I wouldn’t bury his face in a custard pie.
Story via Carbon Sense.