You might remember the Back-to-Nature movement of the 70’s. That was a rather harmless way for people, longing for the genuine way of living, to move into the countryside to enjoy the splendor of bad, or no, plumbing.

Fine with me. A general observation is that most of these people eventually moved back to the cities, naturally with the exception of those who really knew the fine art of running a farm, instead of just manhandling animals. A slight, but just slight, generalisation, is also that they started to apply both standards and politics in their new back yards. Most Green parties in Northern Europe have their majority of supporters in fancy city center neighbourhoods.

The thing this year is bee keeping. In the city.

It’s a nice idea for the Hilton to be able to serve fresh honey. Nice idea for anyone, really. Bees, if handled the right way, tend to stay at home. When they wander, no such luck.

For quite a few people, a sting can be lethal. And though city dwellers are closer to emergency, the time line is tight.

You might want to compare this to the ever increasing frenzy, using the same generalisation again, about smoking. Staged by the same people.

If you choose to live in a rural area, you accept the rules of nature. I have considered moving, but – yes – my allergy – and my love of infrastructure has prohibited it.

If you choose to live in the city, you accept motor vehicles, dogs, bikers (those two should learn some traffic manners however), smokers, neighbours. And the proximity to challenging discussions with other city-dwellers. Preferably in the evening on your own balcony, where you soon can’t smoke, or at the bar next door, where you can’t smoke.

The mix up of environmental standards here is, though naturally we tolerant people tend to be, well, tolerant, not so tolerant. Bee swarms in the city can be lethal. Serving roasted peanuts in a closed environment can be lethal. Smoking too, but for bystanders it’s at worst a nuisance. We smoking city-dwellers tend to accept a certain amount of hassle. It’s a choice. We just want the greeners to show the same courtesy. As my late friend Karl Hess wrote in his memoirs Mostly on the Edge: [All I ever wanted was to be] “A Good Anarchist, A Good Lover and A Good Neighbour.”


  • Einar Du Rietz is a journalist and communications consultant based in Europe. He has authored several environmental reports for the Electrolux Group and written many blogs for the Center for the New Europe at CNE Environment.