A tragedy and an annoyance

August 8, 2007

Well, humanity’s is proving its despicableness (and yes, that is a word, despite how ugly it is and how much my spellcheck doesn’t like it) again. In this case, it’s the Chinese specifically. China really does seem to be putting a lot of effort into making the sort of environmental rape and pillage mistakes other greedy, “economically dynamic” nations (us, the US, etc etc etc etc ) have already made and continue to make, even now we know how disastrous they will prove. In this case, it’s their use of the Yangtze river. The waterway is the country’s main trade route, carrying a gazillion vessels full of coal from nice open cast mines, and container ships, and passenger ferries, and fishing boats. All of which spelled D-O-O-M very clearly for the unique Yangtze river dolphin, aka the white fin dolphin, aka the baiji. 

The Chinese government recognised the threat to the species from the fishing, pollution and physical dangers of propellers, creating a wildlife reserve for them. Unfortunately, an international group of scientists has just finished a survey – and found none left. They appear to be extinct.

Good effort humanity! Nice one China! So, what’s next? The Iberian lynx maybe, followed by the Polar bear – who’s fate is looking sealed as the Arctic ice melts away. But hey, who needs the ice – when it’s gone it’ll be easier for silly bastards to go and drill for more oil and gas to mess the place up even more. (“We are happy to have placed a Russian flag on the ocean bed, where not a single person has ever been and I don’t give a damn what foreign individuals think about that,” said Arthur Chilingarov in another example of sublime enlightenment.) . Hurrah for humanity’s really really logical thinking and investments in the future.  Honestly, call me naive and then call me naive again, but I really cannot get my head around obsessions with economic growth when it comes about though environmental rape and pillage, which themselves bring about changes to our climate that may prove so extreme human society is utterly buggered. If human society is utterly buggered, where’s your market going to be you numbskulls?

Gah.

My annoyance is trivial in comparison to extinction and impending apocalypse, but in the everyday world of just now, it’s still an issue. I got a new phone through Phones 4 U recently. I specifically said I didn’t need insurance.  Then I notice a new direct debit coming out of my bank account –  it’s from a company called Policy Admin Services, who, it transpires, are the insurance affiliates of phones for you. When I phone them, they tell me I signed a direct debit mandate, even though, as far as I know, the only mandate I signed was for the actual phone’s monthly calls tariff. Four phone calls later, PAS admit I didn’t sign a specific mandate, they just got “the information in good faith from Phones 4 U”. Woah, hold on a minute – you were able to set up a direct debit and take money from my bank account without even having a specific mandate signed by me? Just on the strength of information passed along? How is that possible? Isn’t that theft? Defraudment (and yes, that’s a word too, even if my spellcheck doesn’t like it either).

If PAS/Phones 4 U are stealing £9.99 a month from several thousand people’s bank accounts, they’ll be making a mint. Honestly, how safe are we from businesses and banks who can fiddle around with our details so effortlessly and brazenly? PAS were so amiable in their discussion of their crime with me. The mind boggles.

Still, none of this will matter in a few decades right? After some more fervent environmental rape and pillage we’ll all be living like Mad Max…

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