Opinion: On the verge of stupidity

No Planet B

By Peter Matthews

Travelling on the Southern Motorway last night, towards the Bombay Hills, we found that we were approaching a mass of yellow lights and arrows telling us to slow down and move into the left lane.

From a distance we couldn’t see what it was all about: Was there an accident? Was it more roadworks?

As we approached, we passed a vehicle on our left which was displaying a brightly lit sign telling us that the right-hand lane was about to come to an end. Moving into the left lane we then came upon a much larger vehicle to our right carrying a much larger, brightly lit display, telling us to keep left. And then another. It was only as we passed this latest light-fest that we were able to see what was happening: Just out in front of the illuminated motorcade was a tractor with a lawnmower on the back, cutting the grass next to the barricades of the median strip.

I’ll admit it was dark and I didn’t get a very good look, but it appears that this procession of three traffic control vehicles had been deployed to prevent us from running into the back of a mower which was taking a bit off the top of a strip of grass about eighteen inches wide. And a straggly, dry, thin, dusty bit of grass it was too.

Surely this is madness?

Just seal the strip and have done with it.

Or, as my wife suggested, plant wildflowers and let it go.

But no, here we have what must be hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, burning fossil fuels, driven by workers on night rates, arrayed against this bedraggled strip of grass up the middle of the road. Such is the power of nature, that we must bring such force to bear on it to keep it subdued. One assumes, also, that this procession will march again at regular intervals to ensure that the grass strip does not engulf the road.

Well let’s hope this is testament to a restorative power in the natural world which will be able to recover, in time, from what the human race has done to it.

That is, if world leaders can come anywhere close to their recent pledges of climate action which might just give the planet a chance.

I know I am over-reacting here to what is, after all, a common enough scene. But I wonder how much money could be saved, and CO2 emissions prevented, if there were to be a review of all such practices. Perhaps the available solutions to problems such as rampant grass on the median strip could be measured against the health and wellbeing of the environment, as well as the responsibility of territorial authorities to spend the people’s money wisely towards an optimal result for the community.

As the yellow glare faded behind us, our headlights showed the verges on both sides rebounding, as nature always does – where it can.

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