Suppressing the Dirty Truth20 October 2008
Blow to image ofby Marie Woolf at the Timesgreenreusable nappy
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a “defensive” stance towards its conclusions.
The report found that while disposable nappies used over 2½ years would have a global warming , impact of 550kg of CO2 reusable nappies produced 570kg of CO2 on average. But if parents used tumble dryers and washed the reusable nappies at 90C, the impact could spiral to . 993kg of CO2 A Defra spokesman said the government was shelving plans for future research on nappies.
Unfortunately, there's nothing truly extraordinary about this story. Policies driven by common intutions — especially those entangled with a morality of the collective — often have very different effects from those expected, sometimes opposite effects. And people actively resist any scientific argument that runs counter to those intutions. In the cases of imposition and of sacrifice for an ostensible collective good, the underlying theory seems to be that it's more important to inculcate an acceptance of imposition and a habit of sacrifice than it is otherwise to effect beneficial policy.