Socks up, heads out of the sand!

IssueMay 2006
News by Sasha Turrell

Are you feeling the shadow of climate chaos breathing a little closer this spring? Even the government's own chief scientist has agreed it is the biggest challenge we face. The current trajectory of our fossil-fuel burning society is preparing a disaster on a scale which is pretty indescribable. Not only is it an ecological disaster, but the growing fight for resources is the major reason behind most of the world's current wars...

Given all this, one might wonder why there has been such a serious failure from “activists” and campaigners, as well as the public, to address the problem. No doubt the reasons are many and complex, but presumably some strong contenders would be: our own complicity in the economic system, the power of collective denial, a faith in new technology, and the feeling that no-one else is doing anything.

Prevarication, denial and selfishness are all to be expected from governments and industry but are we letting them get away with it by following suit? Well, if we are - and of course many of us are doing what we can with the dice loaded against us - it's time to stop. Bring on the Camp for Climate Action!

Catalysing action

The camp is happening at the end of August in northern England and will create space for 10 days of information, example and action on the causes of climate chaos. Because there is a necessity for collective action and local, national and global agreement, one of the first things we must do is get together. To undertake the urgent work of energy transition we need to work out what needs to be done, what others are already doing, what we should be stopping - and what we should be starting. Reading about how bad things could be is obviously not motivating many of us to change, we need to get together and do it!

There will be debates and information on various parts of the science and politics of climate - we recognise that we are entering new territory and no-one has all the answers - what level of carbon emissions is too high, can we avoid carbon rationing, what future for the hydrogen economy?

There'll be practical skills to learn and ideas and practice for political campaigning. We aim to catalyse and start taking action on dealing with the causes of climate change, because we need to do more than change our lightbulbs.

On top of this we want it to be more than disaster-mongering; we'll have plenty of entertainment and lots of activities for younger people - with an energy-use focus. Although it's crucial that existing campaigners take part, we aim to create an event that reaches out to the huge web of people who are deeply concerned but have no idea how or where to begin making changes.

Be prepared

We have a narrow time-window and we're gonna need radical ideas and every crazy inventive action we can think of, if we're to make something good come out of this mess. But the answers are the ones so many of us have been fighting for, for a long time. And climate change will not go away; year after year it's going to get more serious, with more media coverage and more debate. Crucially, we need to understand that the longer we leave the process of starting “energy descent” the more difficult and painful it will be. What we do now could save twice, three, or ten times as much work in two, three, or ten years time. Let's not leave it until it really is too late.

Britain is going to be a very different place in 30 years' time; will we choose to shape it? Or will we leave it to “fate” - which in other words is the state and its sad gaggle of “experts”, apologists and thugs? As the problems grow and more and more people look for solutions and alternatives beyond the mainstream, we have to be prepared. Our work and our ideas have to be more appealing than those of the authoritarian Right.

The future is unwritten. Inaction is the tragedy.