10:10 project to cut emissions / where are the science educators?

The initiatives are coming thick and fast in the run-up to Copenhagen. I mentioned Ed’s Pledge in a previous post – 10:10, which launched today at Tate Modern, is something else to sign up to. 10:10 is concerned with individual measures – something which should not cause us to divert attention from the Estates and IT departments at our workplaces, or agriculture, or Royal Dutch Shell. But still – I’m in.

But I’m also disappointed and saddened by the quality of the information.

Turn off radiators in the hallways? If your thermostat’s* in the hallway, then it’s going to think your home is colder than it actually is. And doesn’t a cold room in the house chill the adjacent rooms?

What about when hardly anything nutritious is in season here except stuff even paleoethnobotanist George Hillman, in field-based experiments with Ray Mears, finds either unpleasant or more trouble to harvest and process than it’s worth? Is it better to go for hothouse local fruit and vegetables or import it from warmer places? Is air freight better overall than refrigerated sea freight?

How do I know what “high-quality stuff” is? After guarding a badly made but superbly light and comfortable aluminium beach chair throughout the Green Man Festival I let it out of my sight it this weekend at our party and in the meantime it was flattened – literally flattened – by a six-foot bear of a drunk guest. All he tried to do was sit down hard in it. I got it from the web. I guess one thing I can do is review it there.

I’m not an environmental saint by any stretch but I am a socially-conscious vegan who holidays by train and foot, shuns the car and spends winter evenings in a sleeping bag rather than turning up the heating. I expend a lot of my most precious resource – time – trying to live a responsible life with respect to my fellow beings. My boyfriend is pretty much the same. We feel we make a lot of sacrifices – certainly, we would prefer to take overseas holidays and install a power shower. We watch people we know carrying on as normal and we think about how we have only one life and wonder if we’re mugs. We think not – but we want to be treated like adults who can handle complexity and deserve to be dignified with some empirical findings which empower us to make our own decisions.

Will somebody tell me what my maximum emissions, waste and energy allowances are projected at for the next 10 years, based on equitable distribution irrespective of borders? OK, so we don’t know yet? Well, on what does it depend? How might it fluctuate? What happens if I exceed this maximum? How can I calculate what I’m expending?

Because there are some things I want to do before I die, and I want to know how many times I can do them without ripping off everybody else, not least some poor fucker who has never even seen the inside of a car.

I think behaviour change is necessary, and would love to see this kind of approach work. I take my hat off to The Guardian for setting up the initiative. But the superficial way things are going with this run-up to Copenhagen, we’ll be reaping only cynicism.

Update: Climate Camp workshop titles are a case in point. The ratio of reflection on the movement itself to actual climate education is not good (unless you are a child, in which case it appears to be very good).

  • What drives our activism: an exploration
  • Art or Protest or Both? Can we combine creative means with politics?
  • Composting the Capitalist State – how we can, why we must
  • Lessons from the Animal Rights Movement (NETCU)

It saddens me to think this, but the reason direct action looks so appealing to Climate Campers is because they have failed to articulate a set of needs and formulate these into a set of demands which could work in our representative democracy. If we don’t know what we need, we won’t be able to defend it and we’ll continue to be outmanoeuvred by corporations. So, basically, are there economic or social climatologists at Climate Camp? It’s not clear, because the workshop facilitators aren’t named. If not, I wish them well, as an inspiration, but I’m not very interested in hearing from amateurs with instincts, or professional activists. I’d prefer to hear from authorities in their field – at least, where that authority is conferred by and limited to expertise. I want to know the credentials of the speakers I attend and I’d like an explicit acknowledgement of the dangers of prejudice and misinformation at climate camp. Because there’s a lot of greenwash around.

Update 2: thank goodness for CAT.

Update 3: A vid or two on the launch of 10:10 on the Arts and Ecology blog. Reminds me, I need to figure out what I’m going to do to cut my emissions. Many of the pledges mentioned in that video involve stuff I’ve already cut out but what I can do is grow more food this year, resume my local fruit and veg box deliveries but get a smaller box to avoid waste, buy only very high quality things calculated to last a lifetime or beyond, and look into microgeneration.

*Yes of course we have thermostatic controls on each radiator. But the point is, 10:10 doesn’t do contingent advice.

Update: surprise surprise, in 2007 the installation of micro wind turbines often increased emissions. Is the same true today? How to avoid this?

Update: on the subject of fighting one’s corner, Left Foot Forward does a good job debunking scaremongering about intermittency of power with renewable generation.

Art or Protest or Both? Can we combine creative means with politics?

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