I heard Ed Miliband speaking on the radio yesterday, saying that we need to be on a “war-footing” to tackle climate change. That we need to fight the problem like we fought the Nazis in WW2.
As a rallying cry, this is hopeless. A war-footing is far too negative. Miliband is being badly advised. People will close their ears and minds to such an appeal.
There does not appear to be an immediate existential threat to our future, our lives or our culture – not like the visceral threat posed by Hitler in 1939. We are all happily shopping online, slugging back the prosecco and catching up on Game of Thrones. Oh yes! And having some lovely early spring weather – I’ve not heard so much birdsong before and everything is bursting into blossom.
No one wants a war, when there isn’t an obvious enemy. Who are we supposed to be fighting? Wars are exhausting!
The first rule of any campaign is to inspire, to set a target and show that there is a map and a pathway to achieving that goal.
In the late 1970s Britain was quite forward-thinking about alternate energy supply – does anyone remember Salter’s Duck? But we pushed ahead with Nuclear and then gorged on the new North Sea oil resources, paying for mass unemployment while we closed down old industries and put off the inevitable. Such are politics and vested interests.
I remember as a lad thinking how brilliant it would be if we had our own Apollo mission – a mission to harness the waves and the wind and the rays of the sun. There is so much energy waiting to be harvested almost for free. We would have been the world-leaders in energy technology, exploiting all the tech spin-offs that would have been developed in such a national mission.
What did Kennedy say to inspire the US to drive the Apollo moon mission forward?
We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too
Now that is a clarion call!
We do not need to be on a war-footing, we need to focus the nation on creating carbon-free energy and to develop new technologies that will bring the climate back under control.
In doing so, we would become the Silicon Valley of energy and carbon neutrality.
We may have to eat a little less meat, but then we will develop even more delicious plant-based alternatives that will soon become favoured over meat.
We may have to learn to add another layer of clothing rather than heat the house so high – maybe learn to wear last year’s jumper rather that this week’s new fashion for instagram?
Proudly show our carbon neutral efforts and credentials on instagram rather than the new eyebrows.
We will have to learn to travel in power-efficient electric cars – I’m sure we can get used to it. Most people have no idea what is under the bonnet. All they want is to be able to get from A to B in something that is comfortable and possibly looks cool.
I suppose Gaia was an attempt to brand this mission, but it has too much of a beardy, hippy connotation. My best thought is UK Sol as all the energy comes from the sun or Impetus UK. they sound a bit 1970s though – Im sure some clever marketer can come up with a mission name and logo that we can all feel proud and part of.
We Britain is so good at banding together for major national projects. The millennium created so many new buildings and projects. The 2010 Olympics were a national triumph.
Brexit has already split the nation into warring factions – we do not need any more war footings. We need a leader who can bring the country back together with one purpose. A purpose we all pretty much agree on now, but feel small and helpless to do anything about.
We need a leader to show the way, to nudge, cajole and praise, to lead us into new, hi-tech sunlit uplands – to make Britain a great leader in the world once again – after all, isn’t that what Brexit is really all about?