Tag Archives: climate change

Climate Change – What on Earth can I do?

I remebember – some 50 years ago! – being curled up in a ball on my bed, inconsolable, blubbing real tears for the panda bears that were soon going to become extinct.

Then, some 35 years ago, working on a college project to design a conservation poster, or something like that, reading the Red Book in the college library, being appalled at the extinction pressure put on local species I knew and loved.

I was fired up. I went round to the Friends of the Earth to offer my services. They stared at me blankly and politely shewed me the door. In retrospect – I may have seemed scarily hyper – I’ve learned to tone down that strength of enthusiasm over the years, but the moment was gone and I, like many people, shrugged my shoulders and thought, “Never mind, what can I possibly do as a single individual?

The World Wildlife Fund saved the Pandas and we all went Awww! when the little baby panda sneezed on YouTube and everything seemed to be okay. We had saved the world! We were free to go on trashing the world, guilt free. There was always someone around to small and take away the mess and dump it in a jungle somewhere far away.

I put the recycling out every week. I agonise over high-carbon decisions, but generally give in to the easy option. I waited four years to get my latest phone. The old one was getting very slow – due to built in obsolescence – I still use it as a second camera and ipod.

I love my phone. I was a very early adopter. I got the first iPhone when it came out. Almost everybody laughed as I got it out to look stuff up on google. “You’ll be doing this soon,” I told them. They laughed even louder.

Try and prize their phones out of their hands now! It was the same with twitter, facebook and instagram. “What’s the point?” asked all this people, who now spend all day swiping and twiddling their thumbs with new messages and pictures of their cats.

But I worry – not only about the rape of our personal data, or the way the internet destroys value in the offline world, or the way it makes everyone unaccountable for their actions. I also worry about the power it uses… and the human minds it consumes.

I recently made a video – How to draw Greta Thunberg – YouTube have now removed comments from my “made for kids” content but, before they did, 50 percent of the comments were beyond negative – they were slurs. My innocent, how to draw videos usually get 99-100% thumbs up likes – so far Greta has 70.2% – 33 likes to 14 dislikes – one subscriber even felt they had to unsubscribe.

That’s a lot of haters who, I presume, don’t care if the apocalypse is just around the corner. They’ve booked their seat at the restaurant at the end of the world and can’t wait for the firework show to begin.

What don’t they like? Do they not like hearing the truth? Or can’t they bear the guilt put on them by a kid? Or that a kid is smarter than them? Or don’t they like that she’s actually doing something – actually standing up for what she believes and is doing something about it – even if it means sailing across the Atlantic rather than flying – how brilliant was that? She got as much ridicule doing that as film stars do, when they fly to climate meetings – (they should be ridiculed!)

Do they just not like that she’s a bit different. Do they hate the very qualities that have made her such an inspiration to a whole generation? Maybe they work for coal and petrochemical interests, see the writing on the wall and are wondering what they can do?

So what can I do? What can I do to bring back the insects that I remember spending summer Sunday mornings scraping off the car headlights and windshield?

What can I do to bring those pesky starlings and twittering sparrows back to the feeding table. What can I do to bring back the trilling of the chaffinch, that seemed to just disappear a couple of years ago?

What can I do to stop the advance of robots calling me up to tell my they want to hack into my Amazon account if I give them my pin number.

What can I do about Amazon? It’s fabulous! I love it! Amazon panders to all our most base instincts. It knows more about us that we do ourselves. It reduces all profit from human ingenuity to the minimum, which it then aggregates and gives to one man to spend on his personal whims.

What can we do about Facebook and Google? We love them, don’t we? We love them as they exploit us and everything we love so they can, maybe unwittingly, destroy everything we hold dear.

What can I do?

Giving up the internet is pointless. It is the only way an individual can try and make their voice heard these days.

Moaning is pointless. No one listens to moaning.

Giving up anything, doesn’t sound too great – saving the planet should be positive sum gain.

There have to be positive things we, as individuals can do.

Leading by example. Not blocking bridges or winding up the very people whose minds and attitudes need to change.

There must be something?

Climate Change – learn from the Apollo mission

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?