Watching Newsnight tonight I noticed not for the first time that something very exciting, and as far as I know, unprecedented, is happening.
The environmental cognoscenti now comprise a critical mass of our politicians. And they are allying with radical change heralds the Climate Campers to send a message of “That’s enough” to the British masses.
I’m strongly braced by Prescott 2.0’s hectoring – mainly because I agree with everything he says: industrialised countries have to make the deepest cuts in emissions in order to permit the people of the world’s poorest countries to improve their standard of living.
Climate Change secretary Ed Miliband will be negotiating a deal on climate change at Copenhagen in about 100 days. Tell him you want him to cut our emission and protect the interests of the world’s poor by signing his pledge. The campaign is terribly simple – there’s nothing you wouldn’t want to sign, if you cared. I think he just wants goodwill. I can certainly give him that. But his department is going to have to get its finger out and educate us sooner or later. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, sure – leadership. But blind following is what gets us into all our messes, no?
Now, I haven’t read much analysis on it, but I would like to understand how this sudden acceleration into awareness raising, compared with practically sweet f.a. over the preceding years, relates to the financial crisis. But I won’t ask too many questions here. Basically, educate us, Ed. We are ready.
Nobody at the grass roots activist level gets to say that capitalism has to slow down severely, because that scares the horses. I’m not one of those who believes capitalism is inherently exploitative and wasteful of people and materials (although it has a tendency that way). I love entrepreneurship, innovation, invention, but built-in obsolescence and manufactured desires are incompatible with our ongoing existence. Throw away tooth-brushes. Beach chairs that won’t stand a bit of rough treatment by drunk men. Coat hangers which fail at the join of the frame and the hanger. Throw-away plastic pint receptacles. Tents sold so cheaply festival-goers feel OK about abandoning them at the end. Abandoned rotisseried corpses. These are just things which I have seen in the last week and they are going to stop.
I’d like to explain the link I’ve just made between waste and emissions, but I’m going to bed. You may as well write off the preceding paragraph as unsubstantiated ranting. You see what I mean – we need an education. Our elected representatives have to stop the technical negotiators insulating us from the science.
Too late to dig out the link now, but it was on the subject of Vestas that I read an account of an exchange between Miliband and George Monbiot on the latter’s blog. Monbiot was commiserating that the silent majority weren’t able to speak out about renewable energy.
And that was it. No links to accessible sources of information for the uninitiated. No opportunity taken to restate the case for renewables. Only sighing. And Ed’s pledge is, I’m afraid, only a very unambitious departure from sighing. He appears to want a herd and I find this infuriating. I want a world of informed, thinking people who would soberly and voluntarily rule out doing a lot of the things a lot of us take for granted now because they had vision and knew it was the right thing to do.
But anyway sign Ed’s pledge and empower him to negotiate for us to make the necessary cuts in our omissions. He needs the support, he doubts it, he can’t do anything without it, and that is why he has made it so simple and so easy.
Update: in East Germany during the era of the iron curtain, waiting list for a car – a trabant – was years long. If your trabi broke, you had to hustle for the parts, and if you got a part, you installed it yourself. In the caption for the trabi at the Museum of the GDR in Berlin, it’s written that every trabi owner was their own mechanic. May those days never return, but it’s good to be able to care for and fix your stuff. Here’s something topical about the endangered status of instruction manuals.