Wednesday, 11 November 2009


I don't do the lottery, I have occasionally on the spur of the moment bought a ticket. It probably happened more often when I was a smoker and was buying my 20 woodbine from the local supermarket counter where the handily placed lottery machine catered for those with two addictions, modern convenience eh.
I don't often find myself thinking about what I'd do with large sums of money, I seem to be in amongst a small minority that thinks we're all pretty much affluent enough in the west and need to realise it. I guess this comes from spending a fair bit of time in countries with 'low labour costs' the term the industry I worked in used for paying what was often a pittance to people in Bangladesh, China, Romania, Morocco etc. Have a bit drive round the suburbs of Bangladesh and if you have any shred of intelligence and morality you'll soon stop whingeing about life over here.
However forty five million pounds is big dosh and I've found myself wondering what it might achieve in conservation terms. You could build 45 Saltholmes for a start, maybe even 46 if you didn't put Brabantia bins in them all. Perhaps buying up nine 7550 acre Northumbrian Estates in order to provide a safe haven for Hen Harriers would be more up your street?
You could find the last Slender-billed Curlew for 45m and have change to save the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. How many IBA's could be conserved, improved and perhaps expanded for 45,000,000? Makes you wonder.
Given the popularity of lotteries generally I also wonder why RSPB or Birdlife don't operate their own with the proceeds going to conservation, I might actually be tempted to buy the odd ticket if I felt the money was going to end up supporting things that matter as opposed to say a theatre in Stratford that is only ever going to be visited by a few thousand people most of whom are in the top 2% of the world's affluent anyway. It would be a fitting irony if a lottery could actually end the survival lottery that many of the planet's bird species are threatened with wouldn't it.


Laura K said...

I like this post. Does this mean I have to stop whining about my pathetic loss in the game of Monopoly last night?

Anonymous said...

You are what we laughingly call a socialist nowadays... sadly so am I. Apart from the smoking (I never did) I share all you ideals.

It really irks me that even the 'serious' news programmes now are dedicated to consumerism. It isn't a news stoty that this year's toy might be in short supply - it's cynical capitalsim pushing their very aggressive money making agenda.

It really is little wonder is it that 100,000s of people will risk all, pay criminals to get to the UK, then risk deportation because they want a bit of what a lot of dole dwellers (and I have considered that comment) won't get out of bed for. I am a socialist but if anyone wants to whine about foreign and illegal labour in the UK (and it's not often the capitalists or farmers leading that charge) then get the fuck out of bed in a morning and slave away in a field in Lincolnshire picking sprouts or face having your benefits cut. The savings could agin be ploughed back into conservation.

Please feel free to edit as you wish.

Terry said...

Great post, Alan.

Mark Newsome said...

I know it's a totally different area of money-grabbing, but the sums you mention almost pale into insignificance when you see what's involved in sport, particularly football. It's sickening to think that numerous footballers get paid over £100k PER WEEK and they still want more. The sums which could make such a difference in conservation are a drop in the ocean compared to what these few jammy sods earn in a year.

Wouldn't it be brilliant if a lottery winner or a professional sports person was more a conservationist at heart, rather than thinking of what sportscar to buy next or how many bedrooms the second mansion should have. Wouldn't they go down in history in a much more favourable light if they financed the search for Slender-billed Curlew or saved a threatened area of the UK/world? You can't take huge amounts of money with you to the grave so why not leave your mark on trying to save the planet/birds/wildlife?

Like you say Alan, daydreaming. It'll probably never happen as by nature, the vast majority of the western world are greedy b******ds.

Anonymous said...

Like you I don't ever think about doing the lottery although I do sometimes daydream about what I could do with such a vast sum of money and it all revolves around what I could do for birds and wildlife in general. I definitely don't yearn after it though and am perfectly happy with what I have.