Go Green Essay

1991 Words8 Pages
The year 2001 was more eventful than most and, a decade on, we’re inundated with anniversaries. September was 9/11, this month the invasion of Afghanistan and next month the release of the first iPod. To which we could add the foot-and-mouth crisis, the Gujarat earthquake and the first ever entries on Wikipedia. With so many significant events to look back on, one thing that few people will remember 2001 for is its entry in the UK’s Material Flow Accounts, a set of dry and largely ignored data published annually by the Office for National Statistics. But, according to environment writer Chris Goodall, those stats tell an important story. “What the figures suggest,” Goodall says enthusiastically, “is that 2001 may turn out to be the year that the UK’s consumption of ‘stuff’ – the total weight of everything we use, from food and fuel to flat-pack furniture – reached its peak and began to decline.” Quietly spoken but fiercely intelligent, Goodall is a consultant and author who, over the last decade or so, has established himself as a leading analyst on energy and climate issues. Probably the only Green Party parliamentary candidate who also used to work at McKinsey, his speciality is trawling through environment statistics that would send traditional eco-warriors to sleep. “One thing that’s remarkable is the sheer speed with which our resource use has crashed since the recession,” Goodall continues. “In the space of a couple of years, we’ve dropped back to the second lowest level since we started keeping track in 1970. And although the figures aren’t yet available for 2010 and 2011, it seems highly likely that we are now using fewer materials than at any time on record.” Goodall discovered the Material Flow Accounts while writing a research paper examining the UK’s consumption of resources. The pattern he stumbled upon caught him by surprise: time and time

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