Blinkered Binarism

### Reader’s Letter to The Guardian, 24th June 2024 ###

Dear Editor,

I read various articles in The Guardian by Jillian Ambrose and Jasper Jolly on heat pumps (links below) and really think that this over-emphasis on one solution is missing the point. For me, these articles are examples of “blinkered binarism”, something which seems to be ever-more prevalent in current discussion. Let me explain …

We (society, politicians and the media) seem to have slipped into a mode which demands a black-and-white scenario (for everything!) with this particular topic being presented as “a battle between heat-pumps and fossil-fuel”. The same is the case with cars (i.e. combustion vs. electric).

This lazy, dogmatic “binary-think” creates massive problems in the debate as it freezes out all other options and makes it sound like “if the ‘good option’ prevails, the problem (e.g. climate-change) will be solved”. This is far from true and is therefore a very dangerous frame of mind.

Let’s take the heating of homes as one simply example: If you can’t fit a heat-pump (for whatever reason), you could take all kinds of other steps to save energy such as a.) having thick curtains which cover the whole inside of windows and outward-facing walls; b.) choosing to heat only one or two rooms, rather than the whole living-space and; c.) installing partitions (or curtains) around the foot of staircases to make sure that warm air does not escape upstairs.

These are all steps which carry very low costs and can be done immediately. But, instead, by grandstanding a “forced binary-choice”, the simple options get frozen out of the debate. This is the same with transport where walking, cycling or taking public-transport should be “the things that we do” … rather than choosing between this or that type of car!

I hope you see what I mean?

Alan Mitcham

Link to original articles:






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