Clarity about hair

You can hardly mention the words “lifestyle change” without some clever egg bringing up “hair shirts”. Here’s Mr Lomborg, quoted in the Guardian this summer: “This is not about ‘we have all got to live with less, wear hair-shirts and cut our carbon emissions’. It’s about technologies, about realising there’s a vast array of solutions.”

What a fatuous thing immediately to bring up hair shirts.

First, some hair is absolutely delicious on the skin. I have several jumpers made of the hair of the cashmere goat. And my wife has various tops made from the hair of an alpaca. Materials even the fastidious Lomborg would surely wear. As a shirt? Slightly louche, but hey ho if it’s saving the planet.

Second, and very sadly, actually nylon shirts might be better for the planet. You might writhe and sweat like an eel in them, but in “How Bad are Bananas” by Mike Berners-Lee we learn that a nylon pair of trousers has half the carbon footprint of cotton jeans. So if you want very low carbon, no hair at all.

When people talk about lifestyle change they’d do better to think carefully through what it might mean rather than just mock simple living with a deceitful metaphor.

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