10:10 – having a bad day, going nowhere fast

10:10 inspires me, and The Guardian’s environmentalism has been one of its few redeeming features. But this:

It’s a bit like Joel Schumacher’s film Falling Down.

Bill Foster has become monomaniacal about reaching his destination. He abandons his car on the free-way and takes a direct route on foot through the most troubled part of L.A., enacting summary justice on transgressors he encounters. He’s not an unsympathetic character – just embittered to the point of violent misanthropic insanity. You know he has to die.

But while you’re relishing the carnage over at Harry’s Place or (more than likely) Spiked, keep in mind that inertia and targeted discredit are bigger forces for harm than shrill environmentalism. For those who haven’t noticed, there’s the bloodiest of wars going on between climate scientists and various agents whose interests are entrenched in greenhouse gas emissions, and in general, we-the-public are not helping.

Watch University of Plymouth Professor of Geosciences Communication Iain Stewart’s BBC series Earth: the Climate Wars. Read sociologist Anthony Giddens, listen to ethicist Clive Hamilton, and follow Open University geographer Joe Smith’s Creative Climate initiative. If organisations like 10:10 fail, we’re going down.

10:10 – the ethical purchase of a microwave is not straightforward

I’m a car- and plane-avoiding, local-holidaying, good energy-buying, recycling, ecos paint-using, FSC-buying vegan, currently sitting in a sleeping bag to write this because I feel bad, in the knowledge that national domestic emissions far outstrip the individual ones I’ve just outlined above, that I haven’t done the recommended draught exclusion (I will!).

Interested readers will have followed my tribulations trying to live up to my 10:10 campaign pledge to cut my emissions by at least 10% by October 2010.

Well, this weekend our faithful old microwave went crunk and a burnt smell invaded the kitchen. We have a small baby, just on solids, and a little girl coming to stay next weekend, and no way of hanging round the house waiting for a weekday delivery, so we wanted to move fast. How were we going to choose a microwave?

Here’s the problem: the ethics-oriented consumer guides (e.g. Ethical Consumer, Good Shopping) don’t care about quality and the quality-oriented consumer guides (e.g. Which) don’t care about ethics.

A further problem – Ethical Consumer’s Ethiscore for microwaves is at least three years out of date, and doesn’t tally at all with the Good Shopping score.

A further problem – the most recent issue of Ethical Consumer mag had a sunny ‘Boycott Israel Special’ news roundup, in which the only dissenting voice was a tiny expression of dismay from David Miliband. In this jolly little special, they promoted the academic, social and material boycott campaign without setting out what they hope to topple with the boycott (end Israel?), nor the ways in which they expect the boycott to effect this (clerical fascists win?), nor the endpoints for the boycott (Israel is cancelled), nor the difference between avoiding helping the settler movement on the one hand and boycotting all of Israel on the other (the difference is enormous), nor any history of the conflict (i.e. that there are two sides). I found Ethical Consumer deeply unethical, and am almost certain that they would have been promoting a boycott of Jews in 1930s Germany, simply because it was going on at the time and consumer boycotts make them happy. So I find this unsettling, as would you if you were trying to buy in such a way that you did the right thing by people, animals and the planet, and the organisation you turned to for serious input revealed some rather squalid practices of its own. To put it another way – I no longer have confidence Ethical Consumer’s judgement. Good Shopping’s write-ups are undated. Incidentally, I haven’t analysed the difference between Ethical Consumer and Good Shopping. Perhaps they split back in the day… rivalry at the top or something.

So, after toying with a Whirlpool model which cost £100 more and didn’t seem to promise any extra quality, we ended up going for a simple £64 Sanyo model. Sanyo’s a good company according to Good Shopping, and a medium scorer according to Ethiscore back in 2006, with a good score on the environmental side of things. Although Which said ‘Don’t Buy’, that was because the Reheat function wasn’t achieving 70% in the required time, or without considerable loss of the food’s volume. We figured that you’d only care about that if you are worried about being poisoned by the water-injected animal flesh you shouldn’t be eating. If we want to find out if something’s hot enough, we tend to put our finger in it.

We got the new microwave from Curry’s because they recycle our old one – less car trips (should we have waited and recycled via council facilities, though?).

All this took a while. I’m not happy. Do I really have to check everything in this life? In the absence of good ethical international law about manufacture, distribution and investment, can somebody sort out a merger between, for example, Which and Good Shopping?

In other news, when we gutted our house I kept a working fireplace so we could eat and keep warm in the event of the power cuts I predict. This year, because of 10:10, I have finally got a draught-excluding chimney balloon. (Why not a bin-bag filled with bubble-wrap, you ask? Too dirty when you take it out and hard to store when you want the drafts in summer.) Pathetically, half of my procrastination was down to a dread of putting my hand up the chimney to take its dimensions. To do – end the drafts in our still-gutted kitchen, including the terribly windy keyhole. Get sausage dogs for the doors (but are they too much of a trip hazard?)

10:10 is living proof of the power of a pledge.

Update: I should mention work too. Last week I prevented the purchase of a laminator by lending ours (which is mostly unused). A setback though – a new colleague prints out emails for me even though I’m one of the addressees, and uses fresh paper as scrap paper, and I’m not sure what to do about that. Well, I offered to do his recycling (it’s on my way). Maybe if he realises somebody is concerned about such things he’ll also be concerned, out of natural supportiveness. It’s easier with my other colleague – I just use his daughter’s future well-being as a stick to beat him with (we have a very married-couplish relationship, so I can get away with it, moreover he is a big-minded kind of bloke who rises above the discomfort of a guilt trip and considers the issues at hand). Also at work I successfully suggested a recycling scheme for a certain type of oil-based product which, though very durable, is thrown away nearly-new on a horrifying scale as if it were disposable, but which is always in demand. It went to the top, they liked it and apparently there will now be boxes for these objects in each department. It remains to be seen how long it will take (I’ve been warned). But it feels very urgent… landfill tax…

Nigel Slater’s collective guilt

Let me begin rancorously, progress mildy, introduced a bitter note about competing agendas against the eating of animal, then end with optimism in the face of Jay Rayner. First the rancour.

I took in Nigel Slater accusing his readers of collective guilt in today’s Observer Food Monthly. Many cows eat better than many people do. I frequently wonder what urbane animal-eaters will say when the penny drops and they realise that their barely-disguised primal, mind-blowingly violent, table habit is to stop.

And I take myself by the scruff of my neck and order myself, be nice, encouraging, welcome the positives, ignore the lateness, the herd-following, the whiff of modishness, be tolerant of bad reasons. Whatever the reason, Nigel Slater’s proposal means the death, agony and environmental wreckage lessens, even only partially. Of course a celebrity meat, fish and dairy eater is not going to abandon these things overnight. Welcome the positives.

In just that ill-fitting but determined frame of mind I read Nigel Slater’s piece.

It commences with a panegyric to vegetables. In it he lays the groundwork for what is to come, an opposition between vegetables and meat. “Vegetables beckon and intrigue in a way no fish or piece of meat possibly could” is a statement that diverted me for quite some time, and which is followed by what might aptly be described as veg porn (though not of the sexist PETA variety) replete with references to “beauty and tactile qualities” and “even greater sensual pleasure”, a “deeper connection”. So far, so good – Nigel Slater doesn’t want to fuck bits of flesh. More interestingly, he wants us to know he is sidling away from eating them too. Let us tread carefully though – he is not renouncing meat – he’s just more interested in his own (though not animals’) “well-being”. And then comes the crunch:

“…those implications that go beyond me and those for whom I cook.

Every little helps

We have damaged this planet. We have plundered its natural resources, emptied its seas, scorched its earth, turned its beating heart into a toxic rubbish tip. There have been decades, if not centuries, of take rather than give. I do not wish to relinquish entirely the deep sense of fulfilment I get from eating meat and fish, but I now place less importance on them in my diet than I did. It is the meat and the crackling rather than the vegetables that are now on the side. When you lift the lid of my casseroles, peer into my pots or read my plate, it is the veggies that play the starring role.

And yes, it is worth “reading” our plate before we tuck in. Where did that food come from? Does it sit comfortably with our conscience and what we believe good food to be? What, other than our immediate appetite, does it benefit, and crucially, what damage is that plate of food doing?”

Food as sensual pleasure; food as “damage”. (But not damage in the form of an animal life violently ended – who are the brutes, again?)

Possibly the strangest part is this:

“If digging up our gardens, getting an allotment, shopping at farmers’ markets, growing organically and eating sustainably is seen as a sign of our collective guilt for what we have done to the planet, then so be it.”

I don’t understand this defiance. Was he browbeaten and nobbled by the environmentalists, rather than reaching this conclusion off his own bat? If so, good for them.

Anyway, Nigel Slater is right. Not wholly right – growing our own is not the pinnacle of ethical eating, and ethical eating is not the pinnacle of ethical living. He’s right, with some more right stuff omitted. But basically right. Eat more greens. I am going to grow more, as part of my commitment to 10:10 (which is only a brandname for an earlier commitment to reducing waste / emissions). But it’s going to take a lot of my time. Definitely not for everybody. Economies of scale shouldn’t be sniffed at.

And on a final optimistic note, a quick sketch of vegan London today. This afternoon I met a woman from overseas, an acquaintance of a friend who thought we should meet (isn’t it lovely when people do this for each other?). We lunched at Tidbits in Heddon St off Regents Street, a vegetarian, largely vegan buffet where you pay by weight I’d not heard of but highly recommend, before chatting our way through a few errands. In Soho there was a street market and Manna had a stall. Vegan cupcakes? But Manna’s a vegetarian restaurant, not a vegan restaurant. Well, now it’s vegan, give or take some butter and cheese in the kitchen in case of diner requests. You don’t know how odd and welcome it was to hear that – dairy eaters accommodated rather than assumed. Manna doesn’t make too big a deal of it though because, like the fantastically creative ShoHo restaurant Saf, they probably realise it currently doesn’t pay to big up being vegan. There’s a lot of prejudice out there inspired, among others, by Jay Rayner, The Observer’s meat champion. But times are changing. And then to Lush for new shampoo. Not only is the shampoo I buy from Lush solid and unpackaged, it is also vegan and made in this country – even, one sales assistant told me, down to the shelling and processing of the coconuts. Then I went and got some of that filthy Cheatin’ pepperoni by Redwood. Man, it is good. My new acquaintance said the afternoon was turning into the secret life of a vegan. We parted and I made a rogue purchase of some sunflower margarine from the last M&S before Chancery Lane tube. For some reason my phone’s barcode scanner couldn’t make sense of the QR code, but I couldn’t see any problem ingredients. It is lovely.

I think London is moving veganwards.

I said final, but one last thing – I wonder what Jay Rayner will say when he gives up meat? I think he’ll say he did it at the very earliest opportunity without doing violence to his palate, his wallet or his health, and I predict he’ll attribute his foot-dragging to the tardiness of restaurateurs, farmers, buyers and wholesalers to get their shit together. He’ll stand firm on behalf of ordinary people without as much time for thinking or money in their pocket as I have. And just as he has grudging respect for vegans while despising our food, I have more respect for him and his talk of flavour, cost and nutrition than I have for Slater’s collective guilt and leisured DIY.

Jay Rayner’s position looks like it will lead to a settled commitment. Nigel Slater’s is particular, modish, and superficial.

10:10 is a mass movement

Many people*** are joining the campaign to cut their emissions.

It seems important to talk about this in advance of the Copenhagen summit, so here goes. Scroll to the bottom for what I plan to do to cut my own emissions.

Received by email.

<<<< STOP PRESS – The whole cabinet has apparently just signed up…. We cannot believe it…. Hang on, here comes a text from Ed himself… Yes, it’s true… STOP PRESS >>>>
Thanks to everyone who made it down to the solar launch at Tate Modern on Monday. We’re all still hallucinating from lack of sleep, but pretty sure it was a triumph. My favourite line was the very last of the evening, from Kevin McCloud’s brilliantly impromptu wrap-up. “If you all go out and get 10 people to sign up to 10:10 and get them to sign up another 10 people on Friday, then by next Tuesday the whole planet will have signed up and we will have won.” I reckon Kevin’s suggestion – if not his maths – is brilliant. Keep reading…
But first, we’ve got to hand it to the Guardian: the whole front page, the whole G2, more than 30 articles on the website, plus podcasts, photo galleries, video interviews… we all felt a little cheated on Day 2, when we only had seven full pages in the paper. All their stuff is here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/1010 Great coverage, too, in The Sun, Telegraph, Reuters, PA, Treehugger..Here’s all the latest news coverage.
Sure you heard the big news from yesterday, when  all the Tory frontbench signed up. As did Nick Clegg…. How much longer till Gordon cracks do you reckon?!? [See – that really is a stop press above – this was accurate 10 mins ago]. Other big names since launch are Stella McCartney (have you asked Dad yet?), Mark Ronson and Alan Rickman. Plus we have two seriously iconic British companies almost ready to cross the finishing line (it’s actually the starting line, but no need to emphasise that at this point.) All these sign-ups are fantastic, but they are not enough on their own… We’ve got to get from 0 to 60 very very quickly or we will lose momentum.
So – and with apologies to Kevin McC – here’s the plan: every single person who has signed up so far (that’s 9,182 of us – but we’ll round that up to 10,000 in recognition of the fact that it’s been 15 years since the last maths lesson) goes out and persuades 10 more people to join by the end of tomorrow (Friday). Except anyone who lives in solitary confinement in a prison or in a hermit’s cave. As you are speaking to your ten – probably shortly after they’ve agreed and think they’ve got rid of you – casually drop in that they also need to persuade another ten people…. by the end of the weekend. 10,000 x 10 x 10 is, correct me if I’m wrong, 1,000,000. One million. Ahem. One million.
So: how to get 10 people signed-up by the end of Friday… Call round all your family and friends tonight? Make an announcement before choir practise? Stick up the poster at work? Speak during school assembly tomorrow? Send an email to all your colleagues? Put out a shout on your company/campaign/choir/church/cat-lovers mailing list?  Use our online email-invite tool?
Add a note to your Facebook/Twitter/MySpace page?
As Daniel so eloquently described at our team meeting this morning, the 10:10 ship has most definitely set sail and she’s a thing of beauty with great potential to sail far seas. But, right now, she is springing quite a few leeks which are in need of lots of hands on deck (do ships spring leeks on the deck? sorry, this analogy is falling down) to plug before she starts floundering.
Repeating the above paragraph in English, we urgently need help with:
  • Money – we were very skint last week, but then had to spend quite a few thousand on the launch so now we are very very skint. In fact, some of us are personally quite seriously in debt as we couldn’t resist buying the plane once we’d thought of it. If everybody could please donate ten pounds today, we’d have 100,000 pounds, which coincidentally (and genuinely) is exactly how much we need to pay off the debts and run the campaign as far as the Copenhagen climate summit in December. Please give ten pounds or more here: http://www.1010uk.org/donate
  • Web People – Many apologies for all the technical problems with the website. Rest assured we have received your 400 emails and are looking at them lovingly. But here’s the problem: the Age of Stupid lent us their 3-strong web team for two weeks, but have now had to take them back. So we are in desperate need of web programmers or all types (including social networkers). Please contact mal@1010uk.org if you can help.
  • A designer – Ditto a graphic designer who can take our designs and turn them into all the free adverts we are being offered. Contact mal@1010uk.org
  • Sorry for so many requests so soon. But hopefully you’ve had a couple of days admiring your tag (oh, if you didn’t get one, email tags@1010uk.org – we’re setting up the distribution asap) and are now rested and ready for round 2. As everyone who has ever run a campaign before has said to us: this idea is ridiculously ambitious. You’d need two years, 100 staff and five million pounds…
Onwards and upwards
Franny, Dan, Leo, Mal, Harriet, James, Robin, Ian & many others
Team 10:10

10:10 Sign-Ups, as of midday Thurs 3rd Sept
Individuals: 9,182
Businesses: 352
Schools: 53
Organisations: 157
Politicians: All the cabinet, all the Tory frontbench, Ed Miliband (Climate Change Minister), Nick Clegg (leader of Lib Dems)
Actors: Samantha Morton, Jason Isaacs, Pete Postlethwaite, Colin Firth, Tamsin Greig, James Purefoy, Alan Rickman
Fashion Designers: Vivienne Westwood, Nicole Farhi, Stella McCartney
Artists: Anish Kapoor, Anthony Gormley, Gillian Wearing
Footballers: Graeme Le Soux
Chefs: Delia Smith, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall*
Authors: Ian McEwan, Sarah Waters, Irvine Welsh, Anthony Horowitz, Antony Beevor, Ali Smith, Carol Ann Duffy, Andrew Motion
Lords: Lord Giddens, Lord Stern (author of Stern Review)
Film Directors: Mike Figgis, Richard Curtis
Impressionists: Rory Bremner
Musicians: Stornoway, Reverend & The Makers, Bloc Party (Russell only), Mark Ronson
Energy Companies: Eon, British Gas, EDF, Scottish & Southern
Football Teams: Spurs FC
Organisations: Science Museum, Tate, Spurs Football Club, Royal Society of Arts (RSA), Women’s Institute (NFWI), British Fashion Council, Business in the Community, Mumsnet, Sage Gateshead, Julies Bicycle, Arcola Theatre
Universities/ Colleges: Edinburgh Uni, Westminster Uni, King’s College, Liverpool Uni, South Thames College, Newcastle Students Union, National Union of Students (NUS) nationally,  Birmingham Students Union, UEA Students Union, Leicester Students Union
Councils: Hackney, Islington, Richmond, Oxford, Slough, West Sussex, Stroud, Eastleigh, Kirklees
Schools: Fox Primary, St Martin Primary, Petchey Academy, Crispin School, Ashley Primary, Rosemary Musker High, Ambler Primar, Kings College School, Whitby Community, Winton Primary
Charities: Comic Relief, ActionAid, ), Global Action Plan, Women’s Environmental Network, Campaign for Greener Healthcare, Operation Noah, Envision, OneClimate, Fauna & Flora Intl, Green Thing
Back to me. Well, in order to assess this I’m going to have to benchmark my emissions now, but somehow I seem to have missed the point again… Just to recap, cars, planes and eating animal I’ve already cut out, but there is a hell of a lot I could do** – and more than I list below. For me personally cutbacks will mean:
  • Shunning over-packaged products, and letting companies and vendors know
  • Resuming local fruit and veg delivery, but one which doesn’t lead to so much waste
  • Avoiding food waste
  • Not leaving chargers plugged in or on overnight
  • Draft exclusion for skirting boards and interior doors
  • Only planned purchases of clothes and shoes
  • Investigate fibres and materials
  • Consult Ethical Consumer (a more than slightly imperfect source of information on this kind of thing, because it doesn’t review quality)  for other purchases
  • Recycling or, if this is more trouble that I think anybody can be expected to take, writing letters of protest
  • Sorting out the greenhouse in time for next year (new soil, mend windows, clean, keep cats out).
  • Investigating micro-generation and solar water heating
  • Quicker showers (not the place for reveries)
  • Replace TV (huge and already 2nd hand)

I refuse to cycle until the death rate comes down.

*Does the presence of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Delia Smith mean they’re following the advice to become vegan?

** The lack of evidence base for their advice is so infuriating

*** With my favourite commentators on the British Left notably absent – why is this?

10:10 – buy good quality stuff

Dear Breville,

I have just signed up to 10:10, the climate change campaign to reduce my emissions by one tenth. Item 6 of their advice (at http://www.1010uk.org/people#how_can_we) is ‘Buy Good Stuff’. It reads:

“Less stuff made = less emissions = less climate damage. So buy high-quality things that last, repair broken stuff rather than chucking, buy & sell second-hand and borrow your neighbour’s mower.”

In recent years since we have been able to afford it, my partner and I have made purchases with this in mind. Approximately two years ago we paid an above-average amount for one of your kettles – a stainless steel model I can’t find on your website so I reckon it must have been discontinued.

Yesterday, the handle fell off. How the screw which attached it to the kettle came loose in the first place is a mystery.

I set about trying to re-attach the handle but the screw was housed internally in the handle in such a way that I couldn’t even see the head, much less reach it.

It seems that my otherwise-working kettle is unmendable.

I would be interested in your response.

Best wishes,

Update: the Good Shopping Guide is helpful for making these kinds of purchases – but what do you know, it doesn’t include robustness, durability, longevity etc in its ethical rating.

Update 2: I also subscribe to Ethical Consumer mag and can use their ethiscores. Like the Good Shopping Guide, they fall down on 10:10 point number 6. What we need is some kind of amalgamation of Which, Ethical Consumer and Good Shopping.

Update 3: The Guardian spotted this post. Currently no reply from Breville. Meanwhile I’m using a stove-top kettle (oddball but very stylish gift from a friend) which takes 10 minutes to boil on a gas hob. I have only evidence-free hunches about what to do for the best in this small but symbolic matter.

Update 4: Sep 14th and still no reply from Breville. My father-in-sin says we have to drill through the handle and replace the old screw with a new one. If the thread’s gone (in the screwed-into part) we may need to create a new thread. Power tools make my imagination whirr but sometimes you just have to get on with it.

Update 5: I heard from Breville. My response:

Thanks for this response. It was slightly tangential to my question though.

I thought it was clear that my emphasis was on the environmental consequences of appliances which break after such a short time, and in ways which should be repairable easily, quickly and locally, and I’m not satisfied with your response in this respect. Basically, I’d argue that the handle should be the very last part of a kettle to break, and if through some freak circumstance it does, it should be straightforward for me to fix myself. And while you have given a lot of consideration to my finances, with mention of “warranty”, “uneconomical”, “cost” and “incur postage”, for which I am grateful, you haven’t mentioned the environment impact of this kind of breakage (which I think I explained adequately) at all.

My hunch is that the environmentally responsible thing to do is for companies to design repairable appliances, and sell parts and instructions so that owners can either repair them themselves or can take them to a hardware store which offers this kind of paid service. Sending the kettle back to Oldham on the off-chance, and incurring costs to boot, is unsatisfactory on all kinds of levels, not least use of fuel and packaging.

I’m going to drill through the handle, take out the old screw and attempt to replace it with a longer new one. If that doesn’t work, I’ll get back to you.

I realise that all this implies a big rethink for companies like Breville, in terms of warranties and business models. That’s what I’m calling for. If companies like Breville can commit to meeting their consumers at least half way in responding to our shared waste, materials and emissions crises, we may come out the other side relatively unscathed. And this issue of my kettle handle, while relatively piddling, is I think representative of Breville’s challenge.

Update 6 27 Sep: The kettle is mended. I had shown it to everybody who crossed my threshold. Eventually my cousin, a lateral thinker, suggested pushing from the other side, rather than prising, the (for want of a better term) ‘plug’ which fitted over the place where the screw goes. This worked. Out came the plug, we could get to the screw-head, reattach the handle (the threads were fine) and put the plug back in. But it took a long time, many people’s consideration, and our determination not to throw the kettle away or replace it. And we can’t get to the screw now to make sure the handle doesn’t drop off while we’re pouring boiling water. Unsatisfactory.

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?