New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
19 January 2007

Ethical drugs and difficult bosses

How to cope with difficult or unethical bosses, and whether you can be eco-friendly and still smoke

By Marina Pepper

Dear Marina

I’m a seasoned travel writer working for a well known broadsheet. Increasingly it is obvious that the world is warming up. I see it wherever I go – the melting glaciers and permafrost, disappearing islands and un-seasonal activities of flora and fauna all tell me that Climate Change is happening all around the globe.

I can hardly drag myself to the airport these days knowing I’m part of the problem, not the solution. My editor tells me it’s not in my interests or the paper’s to point out to readers that we should all fly less.

What can I do?

World weary, Lewes

Aren’t humans funny things? Or as Joni Mitchell put it: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”

Now have you honestly exhausted the alternatives? How about: Cycling in the Netherlands – a last look at the windmills before rising tides wipe out this quirky little low lying nation.

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Or Goa by boat: it’s the journey, man, not the destination. You could catch the night sleeper to Scotland as a Valentine special. At a push you can get two bodies into one bunk. Get that rhythm!

Other destinations might include: Totnes and your home town of Lewes. Both have proclaimed themselves transition towns working to reduce their reliance on a carbon economy.

Wales is also good, as a visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology will add an educational dimension to one’s holiday.

If your editor remains fixated by advertising revenues from the airlines suggest he allows you, in the interests of balance, to write a piece on why planting trees to offset flights doesn’t work (please note Mr Blair). To remain carbon neutral you have to offset within the same timeframe as the C02 emissions generated by the journey, whereas a tree takes 100 years to do the job AND WE DON’T HAVE 100 YEARS. One passenger’s trip to New York apparently requires the immediate replacement of 70,000 conventional light bulbs with energy efficient ones. Shall we start with Blackpool?

Dear Marina

I’ve been a casual marijuana smoker for most my adult life. Now in my 40s it concerns me that there’s a lot of drug miles involved which makes me feel like a hypocrite since I’ve gone to so much trouble to cut my food miles. I’ve thought about investing in a hydroponics system. But doesn’t that use a lot of electricity? What should I do?

Dopey, South London

When you consider the huge amounts of soya, rice and lentils that find their way here from foreign climes, it’s difficult to get excited about a few tonnes of the Taliban’s finest gold seal, especially when it comes hidden in British soldiers’ boots. These guys are on their way home anyway. There’s no extra air miles involved, really.

Switching to a green energy tariff means if you do opt for hydroponics your activities will be carbon neutral. Or try growing a plant outdoors: it’s as easy as growing tomatoes and now it’s a class C drug, chances of a custodial sentence for one small female bush are beyond remote if caught.

Outdoor female plants will start to bud around the autumnal equinox and need to be harvested some time in November.

If you mix it with tobacco please remember that the tobacco industry causes deforestation, damage and pollution to water tables and some of the profits find their way into the Tory Party’s election coffers. Nuff said.

Dear Marina


I work for a drunken old frump, who never listens or thinks before she issues edicts which she subsequently, but not always, forgets.

If you try to discuss them, she acts like a spoilt child. She knows nothing about her job – she was a teacher who now runs a newsroom. She also favours the male colleagues she fancies and is always barking orders that make no sense to the rest of us. Unfortunately, because I have a small child it is really difficult for me to quit. What shall I do?

Desperately yours, Workslave

Does the small child make it difficult to quit because you’d hate to be stuck at home with one? Or have you been sucked into the belief that your absence means to show love you must buy everything new and save for private school fees? Honestly, the biggest expense my kids have ever put me through is child minding. It’s why I work from home, dear.

As for your boss, she probably learned her management skills by example. I mean how many orders has central government barked then forgotten when it comes to education, education, education? Kids need more exercise, but sell the playing fields to help us meet our housing needs. Kids need music but they have to pay. We’ll abolish selection apart from selecting the “best” kids. School meals could do better – but we won’t invest. We’ll have an inclusion policy but government ministers’ SEN kids must go private. We’ll have a government elected on an education platform then let an unelected person decide how our state schools are run and repay him with a seat in the Lords. We’ll have a national curriculum but rich people can finance a school and insist the wee bairns are taught Creationism: How long would the Ark’s keel need to be to keep upright with two Diplodocuses (diplodoci?) on board?

It’s enough to turn anyone to drink. I suggest you encourage your boss to get herself promoted – by far the easiest way to rid a department of an underperforming manager.

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