Is it ethical to shut down power stations?

Our ethical columnist gets all misty-eyed at the thought of eco-warriors pulling the plug on Britain's power industry.

Ethan Greenhart

Topics Politics

Dear Ethan,

I am delighted that the six Greenpeace protesters who scaled a smokestack chimney at Kingsnorth power station have been found not guilty of criminal damage! We now know that it is entirely lawful to cause damage in the name of preventing the greater damage that will be caused by climate change. So, Ethan, what does this mean? Am I right in seeing this as a GREEN light (pun intended) to go a step further and shut down Kingsnorth and end its coal tyranny once and for all? Wanna join me in this endeavour?

Johnny Beaucourt-Shayfield
Mayfair, London

Dear Johnny,

Damn you! You have made me come over all blotchy and itchy-eyed! Don’t you know that the word K****north is on a par with the word T*sco in its filthiness and foulness and its offensiveness to the ears of anyone who has an ethical bone in his body, much less someone like me whose entire skeleton, from skull to phalanges, is riddled with eco-purity.

It is a well-known fact that I suffer from Tescophobia (see my new book, Can I Recycle My Granny?, for an achingly dramatic account of how I developed this eco-affliction), which is an allergy to the bad lighting, brainwashing tannoy announcements, cheap food, dead-eyed fish, thoughtless ‘mums’ in clingy leggings and seagull-choking carrier bags that make up the seventh circle of manmade hell that is a T*sco store.

It is a less well-known fact that I have lately also developed Kingsnorthnausea, a terribly debilitating disease of the nervous system where I come over light-headed, borderline vomitous and weak-limbed whenever I hear someone utter that evil name, K****north. Things aren’t helped by the fact that I have a jolly good friend and comrade called Paul K****north, activist, author and celebrator of all things non-foreign, whose very presence is now enough to make me puke.

However, Johnny, I shall forgive your unforgivable utterance of the K-word (I’m just glad you didn’t mention D*ax, since the last thing I want is another attack of Draxania! Not pleasant…) Because your intentions are good: you, like me, like Greenpeace, like every right-minded eco-warrior against the unimaginable horrors of humanity such as electricity generation and energy provision, want to CLOSE K****north down. And now, at last, we not only have science on our side – science that is unquestionable, unchallengeable and undeniable (except by oil-funded fiends and lunatics); we also have the law on our side!

Now that we merrie ethical few are backed by the men in white coats and the men in white wigs, who would dare to stand in our way? And even if they did, we could simply punch them to the ground and kick their brainless heads in. After all, the GBH caused to their probably obese bodies would be justified as part of our heroic effort to prevent the greater GBH that mankind is committing against the poor, defenceless, female Gaia (mother-battering bastards that we are).

Look, Johnny, let’s not beat around the bush (in fact, can we please try to avoid beating bushes full stop? Bushes have feelings too): K****north power station is one of the most evil institutions ever created by mankind. And yes, I’m including Auschwitz in this equation. I’m even including T*sco, if you can believe it. Do you know what K****north does? It BURNS coal for the purpose of providing PEOPLE with electricity just so that they can WATCH television while heating up POPCORN and soothing their bunion-riddled FEET in an electric foot-massager bought from ARGOS.

Put another way: we rip up Mother Earth’s guts – her black, coally soul – stick it in a smokestack chimney, burn it to a crisp, expel tonnes and tonnes of black soot into the air, and create electricity. And why? Just so the brain-addled masses can watch TV, make ‘smoothies’, turn on the lights at night, and be sustained by life-support machines when they fall seriously ill or get hit by a car. What selfishness is this?

Johnny, there is no question that we must shut down K****north, this cathedral of carbon, this tower of terror. Doing so will plunge many, many people into darkness and prevent them from cooking readymade meals in electric ovens, while also forcing hospitals (those junky dens in which animal-tested pills are stored and distributed) to either shut down or at least run on an eight-hour day rather than a disgraceful, resource-zapping 24/7 basis. This means that killing off K****north will not only prevent coal from being physically burned and turned into a blackened hand grenade to be hurled at Mother Earth – it will also tackle what we know very well to be the MAIN PROBLEM facing the planet and everything within and without it today: electricity-powered consumption; people’s greedy habits; the life of luxury that the mass of population believe they are entitled to, when, as we know, and as the scientists and the men of law know, and as the experts know, they are entitled to no such thing the thoughtless polluters.

I’ve heard some people say that ‘coal is evil’. I even caught one of my boys saying it to his friend from the Steve Biko Estate who revealed that his father once worked as a miner (he’s not my son’s friend anymore, of course: family rules state that we must not befriend anyone ‘who knowingly or unknowingly or unwittingly contributes to the warming of the planet or who is related to someone who knowingly or unknowingly or unwittingly contributes to the warming of the planet’). Johnny, I made my boy wash his mouth out with non-chemicalised, elderflower-based soap, because it is not coal that is evil but the theft of it from the Earth and the Joan of Arc-style murder of it at the stake of human greed and clinical obesity. In fact, coal itself is quite beautiful. I have a statue of a fox carved from a block of coal that I liberated from a miner’s wheelbarrow during the great environmentalist run-in with deranged coal miners in 1994, and I love how the sunlight makes it glint and wink.

Yes, Johnny, it is time to finish what that underrated prophetess Margaret Thatcher started: the closure of all coal mines, coal-burning institutions, and anything else remotely related to coal. We can start by storming K****north and decommissioning it. And why shouldn’t we? After all, as Friends of the Earth said following the trial of the six protesters, protests to prevent climate damage are ‘utterly consistent with the policy implications of the Stern Review’. Indeed! Our protesting, our war against coal-murder, our battle against the early onset of eco-dementia throughout the uneducated, unethical swathe of British society (around 95 per cent), is sanctioned by Stern no less. We are armed with peer-reviewed science, government-sponsored reviews, legal notices and the righteous fury that is built in to every green-tinted lover of Gaia: K****north, you’ve had it.

Ethan Greenhart’s book Can I Recycle my Granny? and 39 Other Eco-Dilemmas is published by Hodder & Stoughton in October (for more details, visit Amazon(UK)). Ethan is here to answer all your questions about ethical living in the twenty-first century. Email him {encode=”” title=”here”}. Read his earlier columns here.

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Topics Politics


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