|Issue 12 : 23 August 2006|
First of all a warm welcome and a huge thank you to a record 70 new subscribers. My aim is to make my newsletter as accessible to any first-time reader as to die-hard friends since before issue 1, so hey, let's roll!
Have you noticed how rapidly attitudes are shifting this summer? It’s a blooming miracle. As fast as things get worse, they get better in other ways. Global awareness – our evolving collective consciousness – just grows and grows.
OK, climate change is hitting our own sun-scorched back yards, and much as we don’t like the prospect that working in the city could get even hotter than it’s already got, it goes much deeper than that…
(Incidentally, do you know the coolest places in town without air con? Cathedrals! “It’s not that we need air con, it’s just that we’ve forgotten how to design buildings without it!” so says Neil Crofts of www.authenticbusiness.co.uk)
Things are being said by bishops, by Governors of California, by the former next president of the USA, Al Gore, by Mayors of London, by Tory leaders, by news barons, by the CBI, by celebs, by media stars and by the BBC that simply wouldn’t have been said even a few months ago!
Building on the amazing work of the Corporate Leaders Group who have long been calling for change, many new big business names are stepping up and starting to lead:
Some of the slightly less expected names in The Climate Group California Roundtable include Virgin Group, British Sky Broadcasting, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase:
General Electric and WalMart are stepping up too.
For some it may be a case of green gloss paint slapped thin upon a monster, but for others it may be that deep down inside lies a good green core that’s perhaps been forgotten about.
Lewis Pugh swam the entire length of the Thames in climate protest:
Our new Environment Minister David Milliband has spoken out on DTQs (Domestic Tradable Quotas). The FT’s Richard Tomkins backs the idea in ‘Let's bring back rationing’ (1 July 2006):
The Telegraph’s travel writer Nicholas Crane speaks out bravely in ‘Why we must give up flying’ (29 July 2006) Inspirationally the author chose never to fly again – ten years ago!
Many big initiatives are beginning to work together – how awesome is that? Former President Bill Clinton and Mayor Ken Livingstone have announced a partnership between the Clinton Climate Initiative and the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group:
By far my fave clip of the month comes from George Meyer, long time writer on The Simpsons. What a fresh way of looking at the problem! If you only click on one link, make it this one:
We are moving beyond thinking the unthinkable and starting to speak the unspeakable.
My letter of the month – Deus ex machina
My letter of the month goes to a US correspondent Nils Gilman for his letter published in the Independent on 3 August, ‘Solutions to global warming lie in painful choices, not quick fixes’:
Naively against the tide
My second best letter of the month goes to Philip Phillips (Telegraph, 5 August) for bursting a well known bottled water bubble. Be warned. You will never see the product the same way again!
Sir – Those surprised by the price of bottled water should consider Evian. Spelt backwards, it says it all.
Philip Phillips, Isle of Man
Carbon Coach in print
I was honoured to be asked to be guest author of the leader article in Construction Manager, the journal for the Chartered Institute of Building:
Modern Building Services also printed a piece of mine, ‘Let’s halt the drift’:
Come Off It day
URGENT NEWS: Thursday 31 August is Power Cut day. Please spread the word and join in by visiting:
There are many exciting developments in connection with Come Off It day. There are some really big days of action being planned by others. I’ll keep you posted.
A great campaign has started in Hong Kong – on the 8th of each month!
CARBON CONSCIOUS THINKING
The president’s barking, the PM’s flown off and the headline’s gone missing! It’s a topsy-turvy old world, and a huge swell of ordinary people are now getting on with the job of saving it. Imagine reading this headline in tomorrow’s newspapers:
Stop the presses: our home planet, spaceship Earth, has been diagnosed seriously ill. The sky is full of invisible ‘smoke’. We are the cause. We will suffer in our lifetimes, our children more so, and millions already are. We have just a few years left to completely turn the ship around, and to radically adapt our habits, or we all die. We are all in this together.
Why don’t we read this? Is it boring? Is it irrelevant? Is it untrue? Is it too painful? Too inconvenient? Too confrontational? It’s mega depressing of course – so do ‘they’ suppress it? Or do we?
Do the media think we already know? Do we think we know? Do we know? Is it that ‘those in power’ (and in oil) would rather we didn’t? Are there bigger news stories? I struggle to think of anything that tops “Imminent mass extinction of our own making!”.
My good friend David Wasdell, director of the Meridian programme, has important news for us if we dare listen. His paper ‘Beyond the Tipping Point: Towards the Anthropocene Extinction Event’ was delivered to The Foundation for the Future, Humanity 3000 Workshop, Seattle, in April this year. This is as chilling as it gets, no question.
Or is it a case of don’t panic! What on earth will happen if people know the truth? Well… what on earth will happen if people don't?
Are some of us too numbed, too drugged up to the eyeballs, too high on fossil fuel-induced euphoria? Are we too busy securing our next carbon fix to notice that time, gentlemen, has been called?
It struck me recently that WH Auden’s poem “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone” (immortalised by Four Weddings and a Funeral) works in the context of what is happening to our own Mother Earth – or worse: what we are doing to her:
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
I hope I’ve not lost you. Please stay with me. People ARE turning this thing around. Mother Earth is not dead yet: it is premature to grieve. Read on, there is cause to celebrate.
The waiting game
“Please wait” our computers politely ask
as they slowly load up our software.
Me reduce my carbon?
Yeah. I’m all for it, but naturally I’m waiting for others to stop before I do…
We are the patient and the doctor. Delay will only make matters worse – far worse.
Patient no more?
Maybe it’s time we got used to the idea that our leaders are human and that they are busy making a living, enhancing their careers, enjoying themselves as best they can. Is that unfair on them?
We can be heroes
This leaves a job vacancy for us ordinary folk. While they’ve gone AWL (absent with leave – and with our leave?) – we can all be leaders, we can all be heroes! And many of you are!
Job vacancy: save the world (apply within) (credit: Cliff Findlay at niceism.com)
"Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us." So said Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, a long while ago, before the current heated climate of opinion. Rather than wait for our leaders to lead let’s get on and do something!
Namely, cut our own CO2 emissions.
It may not save the world, but it might inspire someone else to!
If we don't call time on 'the longest ever party' in the history of the galaxy (thanks Douglas Adams), who will?
It only takes a handful of people to stop pissing in the pool to make others wonder.
What have you done today to make you feel (carbon) proud?
Left the car at home? Cycled to work? Walked to the shops? A business trip avoided? A productive intercity train journey? Switched a few items off standby? An economy drive? (I’ve measured one regular trip I must make and it can be done at an average 30mpg – or 50mpg – without much time difference.) And here’s the twist – the slow trip tastes better. It is also better for your pocket, your health, your sanity. Like Mackeson – by golly it does you good!
All those saved CO2 bubbles. You count yours, I’ll count mine. (New readers: a big purple balloon, one metre in diameter, is what 1kg of CO2 would look like, if we could see it!)
Remember that purple bubbles stand out more against a less purple background. The more we ‘get it’ the more we help others to ‘get it’, too.
Water water nowhere
There is a lot of ‘embodied carbon’ in pure tap water, so saving water saves carbon too. My family’s cold water use adds almost half a tonne of CO2 to our total footprint. For a no-effort way to save money in your home, see Anti Apathy’s Give a Hippo a Home page:
Tap Magic Ltd have a clever little ‘dual flow’ tap insert:
The national average is 150 litres per person per day. Billions on the planet right now would be ecstatic with just one or two clean litres a day.
This month I’m focusing on the most potent myth of all: denial.
“Surely we’re still not quite certain that manmade climate change is real yet?” The brilliant George Marshall has an excellent new blog:
His current lead story reviews the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) report ‘Warm words: how are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better’. It’s well worth a read.
I’m going to be political now (and I may lose a few subscribers) but is there anyone out there who really thinks the war on terror has nothing to do with oil?
Now go forth and save a few more one kilo purple balloons today. Smile a big, authentic low carbon smile. Let friends wonder what you’re smiling about (but don’t be smug!). Don’t tell them… unless they ask.
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