Monday 23 September 2019

Liz Kearney: 'Our cynicism should get the darned elbow'

'Charles can't win. He can use his elevated position to try to spread the word about the environmental disaster we are all facing, but he'll never be free from allegations of hypocrisy'. Photo: PA
'Charles can't win. He can use his elevated position to try to spread the word about the environmental disaster we are all facing, but he'll never be free from allegations of hypocrisy'. Photo: PA
Liz Kearney

Liz Kearney

In the run-up to his 70th birthday, Prince Charles has been enjoying an unusually benign period of press coverage, with a series of fluffy interviews highlighting everything from his popularity with his grandchildren (they call him Grandpa Wales, which is cute) to his culinary inventiveness (he devised a recipe for grouse moussaka, or 'groussaka', which is disgusting).

The overall impression is of a slightly eccentric but well-intentioned heir to the British throne, whose concern for the environment and sustainability is as prevalent as ever.

He hates throwing things out, he keeps material from his old suits so he can patch them up and his abiding wish for his birthday is that people take more care of the countryside.

Now you'd imagine all this talk of recycling would meet with approval from 'The Guardian', of all publications, given its long-standing commitment to environmental issues.

But no, the paper marked the occasion of the prince's 70th yesterday by good-humouredly taking the Mick out of him. "Is this multimillionaire really a role model for frugality?" it asked rhetorically, while pointing out that while he might recycle his shoes, he owns at least four luxury homes, 50,0000 hectares and is worth more than £300m (€343m).

Charles can't win. He can use his elevated position to try to spread the word about the environmental disaster we are all facing, but he'll never be free from allegations of hypocrisy.

He's not the only one - remember when Al Gore got a pasting when it emerged his 20-room, eight-bathroom home in Nashville ate up more electricity in a month than the typical American household did in a year?

This, in a nutshell, is why we can't tackle climate change. It's impossible for the cynics among us to hear people talking about how green they are without counting the ways in which they are a hypocrite.

At a party recently I met a man who told me he'd gone vegan, plastic-free and had got rid of his car and cycled everywhere. I was thinking, yeah, but you've flown long-haul three times in six months, emitting gazillions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. So don't go green-shaming me, pal.

The problem with cynicism is that it's paralysing. It makes it impossible to make better choices.

When I ask myself if I should drive to work (bad) or take the train (good) I remember all those foreign holidays I've been on and the steak I ate on Sunday and the fact I had the heating on all weekend because it was freezing, and decide I'm already a terrible person and one more car trip won't change that. This attitude is unhelpful, obviously, but given the choice between facing up to the possibility of our impending extinction, or laughing about a multimillionaire darning his elbows, us cynics will always - stupidly - choose the latter.

Is Rowling losing her magic for millennials?

If ever there was a cultural touchstone that marks you out as a millennial, it is Harry Potter.

I was in my early twenties when the books appeared so their appeal passed me by. I read the first one and couldn't understand how anyone over the age of 12 would be interested in reading about wizards and magic.

Anyway, I fully accept I was simply the wrong age for Potter and the books are beloved. But now it looks as though even the millennials are tiring of JK Rowling: the new film 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald', the Potter spin-off, is earning abysmal reviews and even being slated as a franchise-killing disaster.

Maybe even the millennials are finally outgrowing magic?

Irish Independent

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