Behaviour Changeling : Putting all the responsibility for Carbon Emissions reductions on ordinary householders will inevitably fail as it meets strong resistance. The bigger picture must be to provide Carbon-free Energy to all.
The habitual trend in politics is to utter without having done sufficient research, just relying on cultural assumptions, watercooler talk, hearsay and what you read in the newspapers, which is dumbed down and always resorts to cultural prejudices.
At least Anthony Giddens in his book “The Politics of Climate Change”, attempts to get beyond that kind of gutter press and move into the heady air of the moral mountain heights. But he takes with him some extraordinarily unhelpful baggage, Classical Economics being part of it. Plus, an inability to see the wood for the trees.
The British newspaper, the Daily Mail, is running a poll today asking its readership : “Do you think climate change data is being suppressed ?” And apparently, 92% of the responders do indeed think so. Here’s the whole page of polls :-
Now, of course, the people that read the Daily Mail are a self-selecting group, so their views don’t necessarily reflect the will of the entire British people, but yet this view, based on mere rumour, clearly holds sway with a goodly portion of the electorate. It could have something to do with the opinions that the Daily Mail itself expresses, of course :-
So I’m talking to some people and someone says that people don’t care about the fact they’re wasting Energy, that people just don’t think.
Even though they know about Global Warming and the risks of dangerous Climate Change, and they know about the connection between burning Fossil Fuels and Global Warming, they just don’t care about how much Energy they’re using.
And I know this is heresy to say so, but I said that people shouldn’t have to think about Energy, that they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about using Energy. I said that the Energy that is provided to them should be Carbon-free and responsibility-free. People shouldn’t be forced to act against their nature. Energy is effectively free at the moment. It’s way cheap, even cheaper than food for a lot of people. So people use it. People love using Energy.
To be honest, he was taller than I expected, and more Eastern in appeareance, a kind of lanky version of Mehmet behind the deli counter at my local Turkish International Food Emporium.
David Miliband was also considerably thinner than I would have liked, considering he might one day rule the New Labour Party, who might just rule my country again. We wouldn’t want him blown away by the slightest breeze, surely, would we ? He needs feeding in my opinion.
Many people around the world are praying and crossing their fingers for some kind of Climate Change treaty to be signed at Copenhagen.
Practically all the nations of the world will have their United Nations delegations in Denmark’s capital this December, and many governments are hoping for a breakthrough of one sort or another on the form of words, the financial commitments and the political drive to get things done.
Trouble is, the nations can promise and sign and agree all they like, but nothing will happen, because the wrong players are in the room.
Where will I be on 24th October 2009 ? What will I be doing on 24th October 2009 ?
Ssh ! It’s an open secret.
It won’t be violent. It won’t be terrorism. It won’t be breaking and entering. It won’t be dropping banners. It won’t be Climate camping. It won’t be marching in the streets. It won’t be leafletting. It won’t be organising a rally. It won’t be taking part in a stunt.
I’ll be doing the most radical thing that anyone can do given the prevailing cultural winds : not consuming. I’ll eat and breathe, but I won’t shop.
I’m not buying into the system that built all those cars, that flew all those planes, that logged all those trees, that spilled all that oil, that flared all that gas, that heated all those buildings, that chilled all that food, that poisoned all those minds, that sold us all that non-essential land-filling plastic-coated stuff.
When I was asked to review a chunk of the 2008 Climate Safety report from the Public Interest Research Centre, I was less than positive about the social movement building outlined in the recommendations for “mobilisation” of the public (see below).
Tim Holmes, one of the people involved in the Climate Safety report, has started a new web log critiquing the very same issues :-
Sometimes a plan is just so wrong that it has to be resisted.
Tesco want to build a rather large retail store in my very local area, implanting a supermarket that looks more than twice the size of any other building here, and shoehorning in over 200 “residential units” to boot.
It may be legal, and it may even pass some of the planning guidelines and strategies, but it’s clearly a resource grab – trying to put as many profit-generating assets as possible into a limited space.
Whenever you hear government ministers or public figures telling the people that technology will save us, remember this : the word “technology” is synonymous with the word “business”.
“Technology” is Big Engineering, and this is what is done by large companies and corporations. Large organisations that make profit by selling manufactured products and Energy always have a surplus set aside for their communications budgets, and that includes persuading government people that their business is invaluable and needs promoting.
When are the intellectual and political ranks going to stop trying to apply universal guilt ? The real question to ask is not, “how are we going to get average emissions down ?” You can’t treat all the people in the United Kingdom as one blurred lump. Around 20% of consumers are conscious. Another 20% to 30% are going to be hit directly by any measure designed to put an environmental tax on Carbon, and will have no choice about responding.
Climate Change worldwide is affecting the poorest first and hardest – an expression used by everyone from Nicholas Stern through to Christian Aid. But it’s a stratification of impact that isn’t just global. The poorest in the industrialised countries are suffering hardship too : people who cannot get their homes renovated after floods, people who have to apply for Fuel Poverty assistance.
Despite what the psychologists evidence and the psychotherapists cogitate, there’s no getting through to some people, and I really think we just ought to accept that, stop with the guilt trip and the navel-gazing and admit it : the people with leadership authority have got to start telling people that things will change, whether they come along with it or not.
Everybody knows that there’s no secret to persuasion, no “how to win friends and influence people” magic techniques : you just need to have enough money to guarantee yourself the widest possible audience and the dominant narrative, and your product gets all the sales it needs, and overrides “what if” critique. TV was made for it. The Hollywood film industry is its highest and finest embodiment.
Somewhere in the back of all our minds, we know that cows eat soya and soya and cows are grown where the Amazon rainforest used to be, and the Amazon is one of the last ecosystems controlling the overall Climate of the planet.
So we know beef ranching is intrinsically bad, whatever the discussion about cattle burps actually means.
But a brief dip into the news and views of animal husbandry science experts reveals that there is a very intense and ongoing argument about Methane from farmed animals, and what it implies for Global Warming, and my reaction is that we should make ourselves more aware.
Reactions to the article “Wind Turbines Give You Spots” is encouraging, if contentious. Looks like we’ve mined a thick vein of dispute. Could a simple, happy, smiley Public Relations campaign to promote Wind Power counter this ? I think not !
The Campaign against Climate Change has been running a very thought-provoking extending compendium of ideas on how to reduce British Carbon Emissions by ten percent by (the end of) 2010, to which you are all welcome to contribute :-
A momentous report in from Dorset, which seems to be one of Britain’s most radioactive frontlines in the battle between Climate Change Denial and Renewables common sense.
Susan Chapman, Green Party candidate, a colleague from the small but highly informational Take Global Warming Seriously campaign, and an active member of Poole Agenda 21, writes about the tedious, unforgiving work of campaigning for a Carbon-free energy future.