As an experiment with the notion of “common values”, I recently sat in a cinema with a bunch of my fellow citizens and inhaled the film “The King’s Speech”.
They laughed with the jokes (as in fact I did, right on cue), mourned with the pain (which gave me cause for reflection, too); and gave a huge round of applause at the end.
And you know what, I could have been swept along and joined them, apart from one observation.
The triumph of the central character over his physical disability, the applause he received, both at the time and in the cinema, this was all whilst giving a message that the country was about to commence widescale violence towards another country – the declaration of war.
Everybody was cheering for war. I couldn’t join in.
It is to the good memory of David Fleming that I recommend you read his last published work, co-written with Transition Towns’ Shaun Chamberlin, “Tradable Energy Quotas : A Policy Framework for Peak Oil and Climate Change” :-
Amidst all the psycho-sociological arguments being waged by political theorists and campaigny people about changing peoples’ values, and whether that’s right/useful or not, one plain fact should emerge like a tree to clutch in a flash flood – people respond to rules.
If the rules of the game are that we should reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050, and everybody, including the energy production companies, are required to play a significant role, this fact alone establishes “common cause” and creates a framework for action.
Although the Climate Change Act is the law – a piece of legislation – it has yet to be fleshed out. Until it becomes clear what the exact policies, measures and instruments will be, agreed and implemented, there will continue to be massive amounts of flailing and flapping about, scepticism, recalcitrance, dogma and complaining.
When it becomes clear what the framework for the energy industry, big business and social provision will be, then people will knuckle down and accept the inevitable.
I’m not arguing for eco-fascism – far from it. Mistakes in policy are all too possible, and so strong engagement is required, far beyond the token democracy we are currently permitted to take part in. Taking part in a government consultation on energy and carbon emissions is about as effective as waving a placard in the direction of Downing Street, except you don’t run the risk of getting arrested for it.
The only thing the public are currently permitted to do is cut their own domestic emissions. They’re not allowed to have a say about what business or government do about emissions.
Yet despite this complete absence of public involvement, there are signs of progress. Once we have managed to fight our way through the windstorm of nonsensical technological “fixes” that are worse than useless; once we have some educated people in the Government and the Civil Service – education on matters of engineering rather than humanities; then we can start to see sense from the top.
Urgent request from the floor : please can the Government and industry please stop alienating people with calls for consumers to change their behaviour. It’s producing resistance, and that is a threat to progress on reducing emissions.
What do I think about changing values ? I don’t believe “we” should try to change values or behaviour. That amounts to manipulation in my view.