Stay home, Jarvis!

Jarvis Cocker of Pulp seems like a good egg, if a little coddled. He was guest editor of the Today programme on New Year’s Eve and agonised about climate and financial meltdown. Strikingly not-novel, his account was partly based on a trip to the Arctic made by a group of artists. How deliciously lacking in irony it all was.

I am all for celebrities “being the change” which they long for, qua Obama and all the rest of the claptrap the right-ons have spun themselves (as the actual President-elect buffs up plans to beat the beejaysus out of the Taliban). But most would rather prate than act.

Poor Jarvis said he was nervous as he went into the “Belly of the Beast” in Canary Wharf where he found a charming financier who admitted the faults of the current generation of capitalists without much conceding that there was anything wrong with capitalism which couldn’t be fixed. So far so good. More of him, please.

It was a bit hard to listen to Jarvis tell us that fixing climate change was mostly down to goverment. They can “fix” financial markets but not the planet, he fretted. Yes, someone might have told him, that’s because we all sort of democratically know we must fix the market, but “we” don’t really care about climate change. Not yet, not much, and not at any serious cost to our wallet or convenience, we don’t.

Why would the masses care when we see the cognoscenti, the sleb aristocracy and the commentariat all trolling off on cars, boats and planes just like always? This time, of course, some of them do it with a carbon footprint agenda. Ours, not theirs.

Here’s a helper on the team from the Cape Farewell campaign which hosted Jarvis’ trip to the Arctic, as the adventure began:

Cape Farewell 2008’s New York contingent is getting ready to board our plane for Iceland, where we will meet the Londoners (Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, among them) and take a charter to Greenland. There we will bus to the seaside and board zodiac rafts that will take us to the Russian sea vessel that will be our home for the next 12 days.

You might argue that a trip of this kind – carbon footprint and all – is merited by the wondrous outpourings of world changing creativity which will result. Jarvis tells us in a little video that he’s not sure he will create anything much as a result of his jaunt, but that certainly reading and watching stuff on the telly wouldn’t suffice in his case. He’d have to see it all for himself.

Blimey. On that logic, we couldn’t have beaten slavery without everyone schlepping off to the Carribean, or got kids out of factories without a mass fact-finding mission to Blackburn.

The elementary point of course is that if Jarvis wanted to be taken seriously he could have reduced his annual carbon footprint by the 80-90 percent which is widely advertised as being morally and scientifically necessary. This will be very hard if he has still to make a living, but easier if he has been prudent and put a goodly stock of wealth generated earlier in his career into the hands of world capitalism.

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Publication date

31 December 2008