Over the years, Jethro Tull has explored issues relating to the environment, including climate change.
My interest in climate change goes back to about 1974. There was a track released on the War Child album called “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day,” which was a piece talking about climate change. Albeit in the 1970s, it was thought that we were possibly heading towards another age of global cooling—a mini ice age. In fact, scientists then had got it wrong because when the ice core samples started to kick in in the ’80s, and the reality began to emerge, of gradual incremental change, then global heating became the likely prediction, and of course that, for the last 10, 15 years, has been the agreed likely future of the planet aggravated in part, I’m sure, with what we would call natural change in climate but certainly by the effects of human activity. If it wasn’t for the fact that many Chinese cities have absolutely been deviled by smog and terrible atmospheric conditions, I doubt the Chinese would be doing what they’re beginning to do now, which is to, in some cases, lead the charge towards more environmentally conscious ways of producing energy. But I’m afraid the trend is in the opposite direction in your country right now. It should be scaring the proverbial out of you.
And in other ways it isn’t because you always find ways to unfortunately excuse the dependency that you have on fossil fuels. And the dependency you have on personal transport, for example. And the dependency that you have or you think you have on eating vast amounts of meat, which is very expensive to produce, very energy intensive, very damaging to the environment. In South America and North America, there is a culture of eating really, really a lot of meat. I’m not a vegetarian, I mean I eat meat, I should be having some meat tonight in a pie. But I don’t eat meat every day. I enjoy it when I eat it but I’m very conscious of placing some restriction on the amount that I eat. And I choose not to drive a car. I choose not to be dependent on transport, which is very inefficient in terms of its impact on the environment and its costs. I use public transport. I travel in the back of the airplane; on short and medium journeys I travel in the train. I should be on the train tomorrow traveling into London. I use the underground, the tube, the subway system, or a bus, or I walk. But I’ve never been interested in owning a motorcar. Being a passenger in a car, and gas-guzzling my way 200 miles to go to London and back—I think it a little inefficient.
What happens when you have to get somewhere in a pinch and you can’t get there by bike, walking or public transport?
I change my plans usually. Like everybody else, I think the answer you’re looking for is, “I get out my smartphone and I ask Mr. Uber to to send me a car.” But these “What do you do when?” circumstances are exceptions. When you have the choice, when you can make the choice about traveling more economically, and more consciously, then I use public transport out of preference. I know there’s a lot of people who can’t do that because there isn’t any public transport. Of course that does apply in much of America, where it is a car-based society; there aren’t too many options. You have Greyhound buses but not much of a train network compared to Europe and other countries. You can argue that you don’t really have those options, but it’s time they were there.
In April, you traveled to Australia to perform, and made the trip by plane.
Being in the company of 300 other passengers, on a very large airplane, is the most economic way to do that. If I were to do that in private jet, then I think you could accuse me of the same hypocrisy as we might apply to certain other people who do that. On the one hand, to espouse concerns about the environment and then on the other hand jump into their private jet to go to the next climate change conference—plenty of hypocrites like that around.