Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Games: a panacea for everything

10 August, 2012 - 09:31 -- John Burton

As the Roman Empire teetered on the brink of collapse, Games became a major feature of Roman life. More and more lavish, while resources were being depleted, and the barbarians were baying at the borders of the empire. Sound familiar? I don't want to be a wet blanket on all the enjoyment and goodwill that has come from the Olympics, but ...

The world is on the brink of an environmental disaster on an unprecedented scale. It’s not a question of if it happens, it is now a question of when. In different parts of the world it will happen at different times. Manila is currently under water, floods increasingly impact towns in Britain, Asia has yet to fully recover from the Tsunami of a few years ago, a tiny Icelandic volcano brought international air traffic to a halt in the northern hemisphere, the list goes on. Some of these events were tiny on a global scale. The wheat harvests in Russia and the USA are going to be well down this year, and already world food prices are rising dramatically. The population of India and China continue to grow, but more alarmingly, continue economic growth and increase demands for natural resources.

And what happens in Britain? Billions of pounds are spent on the most expensive Olympic Games ever. In order to grab all the medals to fuel national pride, some £264 million was spent on subsidising sport by the government over the past four years. One of the smallest subsidies was £2.5 million for shooting. Think how much wildlife could have been saved with that. Let alone the £26 million poured into cycling. As our Council Member Simon Barnes has pointed out, it has all been helped along with a massive publicity campaign for Coca-Cola and Macdonalds, the sponsors of the Games.

To me the analogy between Britain at the beginning of the 21st century with Rome in its final days is painfully obvious. The politicians are using the same techniques to cling onto power – amusing us to death, because they cannot face the realities staring them in the face.

Find out how the World Land Trust (WLT) is not only facing up to these realities, but is taking positive action to help save our natural world. 


Submitted by Robert Burton on

The usual disclaimer about not being a relative of John. And the usual agreement with what he says, except for the tautology in the title. It's not just Games and Bread to keep the plebs happy, sport is the new Opium of the People. And I speak as an occasional smoker (my weekend is ruined when the England rugby team is beaten). There was indeed a lot of goodwill and feel-good about the games, although the press coverage carried patriotism to such an excess as to be sickening. (Incidentally, did anyone else notice that, in the display of unity and friendship that the opening ceremony promoted, Scottish children sang about sending the English packing? Sport is also war without the shooting.)
But the cost was a major sticking point. Like many people apparently, I was a 'games sceptic' who was won over by the spectacle and excitement. But my grumble from the time London was awarded the Games was the cost and the Lottery sucking funds from the charities community. Not just wildlife conservation, but many worthy causes. Despite the success of the games, will we see a good return on the investment? Was this the best way to spend the money?
John makes the point about politicians using the Games to cling to power, but the current politicians are a different lot to the ones that brought the Games here, which must annoy the latter! However, did you notice how the cunning coalition brought in Julian Assange and Prince Harry to bridge the gap between the Olympics and Paralympics and maintan the distraction from our economic woes?

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