Sustainability and the emperor’s new clothes

This follows my earlier post…. Sustainable philosophy – Rachel Carson.

“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a short story by Hans Christian Andersen. It starts with two weavers who promise the emperor a new suit of clothes that are invisible to all who are unfit for their jobs, stupid, or just plain incompetent. When the emperor parades the streets in his new clothes, a child calls out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

Issues like global warming may win some people a Nobel prize, even an Oscar or two but for most of us they’re the emperor’s new clothes.

After all, in the shabby part of the global village you’re unlikely to worry more about your carbon footprint than malaria, those gangsters lurking in the shadows, or that predator drone somewhere overhead. But let’s not despair, we can escape to cyberspace, surf the net and see how our social network rate sustainability…

Online it’s easy to get lulled into believing that north-west Americans are leading the world. We could try to ignore their consumption and pollution habits but not the absurd. The price tag of even the smallest, green build, ‘passive house’ in Seattle would buy you a colonial mansion anywhere south of the equator. The bubble has got to burst on that sometime soon! The Brits have a lot to say as well but retain less than 2% of their natural forest. Ironically, according to UN data, it’s places like Cuba, not Sweden that achieve the highest quality of life for the lowest environmental cost. But wait, is there Wi-Fi or 3G in Havana?

I wonder, do we really need to be divorced from reality or living in an open-air prison to enjoy a reasonable, sustainable way of life?

1 minute challenge:

Read the summary of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. What message do you think is behind this story?

Post your answer in the reply/comment box below.


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