Environmental vs. Development Interests

P1040437And now something completely different: Sanusha (see previous post) told me that a substantial share of South African wines have been exported to Great Britain. Very recently the major importers in Great Britain have decided that they would like to import wines in bulk rather than bottled. This would put many people in the wine producing regions of South Africa at the risk of losing their jobs, because bottling has been an integral and important part of the wine business. Moreover, South African winemakers’ efforts to establish their own brands and a reputation based on these brands would be severely undermined, since imports to Britain in bulk would go unbranded and it would up to the importers and bottlers in Britain what to do with the wines: creating own brands, mixing wines for new cuvees, etc. The greater irony hidden behind this story, however, is that the decision to shift to importing in bulk seems to be a direct result of massive campaigning by an environmentalist NGO in Great Britain, which criticized the transcontinental shipping of wines as unethical and unacceptable from an ecological point of view. This NGO campaigned massively for reducing the CO2 footprint of these imports – hence the decision to abandon the import of bottled wines in favour of bulk imports.

For me this is an excellent example for the detrimental effects the narrow outlook of single issue campaigning often has on other areas and not least the livelihood of people elsewhere in the world. There are many more examples: just consider battery driven cars, bio fuels, child labour, the abandonment of traditional light bulbs in favour of electricity saving technologies that bear the risk of mercury pollution and so forth. We really have to learn to apply multiple perspectives when assessing all kinds of phenomena.

By the way, the South African red wine I tasted tonight was definitely not the worst I ever had. I will keep sticking to French wines. And believe me, the smaller ecological footprint of doing so is only one of the relevant factors  😉

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