Part one: what must be done
Climate change. If you haven’t seen the film age of stupid, see it. Really, see it. It seems to me that if we give a damn about our (collective) future we need to be, each, making as much of an impact as possible. But what with all these inconvenient elected representatives, piled deep, with the knowledge that the UKs contribution to climate decision-making is likely to be quite good anyway, and that the real struggles to preserve the future of the world lie distant and remote and shrouded in politics, where is our place?
To start with, in the influencing of our in-country decision-making. This means, at its most basic level, noise. We simply must demand, and we shall be given – but the demand must be loud and it must be mainstream. I take it as a simple observation that without sufficient mainstream noise, nothing can be done that will be seen as an unpopular measure. We must continue to undertake the mainstreaming of protest, the adaptation of protest for the mainstream, the continued development of a mass mainstream movement which can instigate mass ‘protest’ – the holy grail of any social movement. A strong independent newspaper would be able to do this, and in its absence we must look to and find alternatives on the internet.
Enabling this mainstreaming is another crucial role. Yes, we do need to establish, in some cases quite bluntly, that others should be convinced of our need to demonstrate the viability of alternative energy systems – convinced of the present scientific agreement and not of the certainty of future catastrophe but of the unacceptable risk posed by our current pattern (meeting continued and current growth of energy demand involves, as far as I can work out, simply unacceptably high levels of risk). But we must combine ethical necessity with as much desirability as possible. We must market the small-scale solutions, the community solutions. The most challenging task we face is to make the low-energy life as attractive as the high-energy one has been.
This means patterns, processes, adapted habits, techniques, actions, which can be quickly replicated and increasingly implemented. It means the development of a strong resources – a nationwide wiki resource or similar of easily-implementable adaptations, a network of convincing champions, to make take-up easy. It means finding ways to integrate these actions smoothly into lives – from social interaction and in social interaction.
It is far harder to develop a brilliant idea than to transmit it – it is far harder to transmit a mediocre one than develop it. We must be funding the development of lifestyle solutions, not just (although obviously also) further mass research into renewables.
And it means that we each should be active in getting to individual sustainable carbon use, rolling out lifestyle adaptations that are preferably also improvements.
So, to sum up: we have three main tasks. To provide the incentive (convince people that climate change is a big enough risk to make sure we do not take the chance, that relying on a magic technology is too big a risk to take the chance, and after that, that needing nuclear is too big enough a risk to take the chance). To simultaneously trial, develop and market the alternatives, demonstrating the possibility and attractiveness of change. To provide this emerging mainstream not (just) with banners and whistles, but with a protest form translated into an appropriate form for mass mainstream action. So to provide a loud and irresistible voice which drives strong, necessary and enabling legislation.
And all this, it is not even enough to save the world. It will contribute, in giving clout to our political statements, possibility to our necessity. And it is enough to make us world experts in visionary solutions, proof of the viability of living sustainably, and potentially a whole load better off. There seems to be to be little question that this is a better scenario than running the risks.
It takes a massive number of people to do this. So all who even vaguely think I am speaking sense ought to take part. That includes you, if you think you might agree with me; and more pressingly – as far as I am concerned – me.