Following on from my previous post on Bangladesh's decision to change the civil servant dress code and a/c temperatures as a means of addressing daily power blackouts, another 2 nice stories have emerged. Back in Tajikistan, President Rahmon's own personal solution to the annual energy crisis has been to ban all light bulbs that are not energy saving. As the article mentions, Tajikistan's falling output is certainly contributing to its green commitments of reducing greenhouse emissions which this lightbulb policy seems to extend. Yet it doesn't quite seem right for such a result to be claimed as a success when it is the product of a small elite draining the country of all its resources for personal gain. And I would love to know which member of the President's family has the contract to import the energy-saving light bulbs.
And Hugo Chavez has taken the Bolivarian Revolution one step further, banning people from taking showers that last more than 3 minutes as a means of reducing consumption in a country in which access to water is not universal. The coverage of this story that I saw of this on the BBC showed Chavez explaining how you should not wait for the water to heat up, and neither should you start singing as this leads to people staying under the water for too long. Apparently 3 minutes is enough to ensure that he doesn't stink.
Previously I noted that stories reported from the developing world are either focussed on natural disasters or these throw away pieces. Yet both of the articles linked here show a different approach, in that they are opinion pieces that use the nonsensical policy from the story as a means of justifying an argument on completely different issue. President Rahmon's decision to ban light bulbs is not evidence that addressing climate change impacts most greatly on poor people as the Wall Street Journal claims. It is evidence once again that he is a dictator with no authority to bring about any positive change that will actually benefit his country (and no mention of the environmental devastation he is causing with his focus on coton farming). Almost comically, the Daily Telegraph associates Chavez's decision to ban showers as an example of Stalinism and its quest to control the aspects of all of our lives. Again, it is a policy of distraction in the fact of his falling popularity. So although perhaps the policies are of no use in the countries where they apply, failing as they do to address any root causes, perhaps there is another use: to provide evidence to editorial positions which are as stupid as the policies they quote as evidence.