Archive - September 2018

Extinction Rebellion
An imperfect storm

Extinction Rebellion

Last night’s talk from Extinction Rebellion was never going to be an easy ride.  Part two in Frome’s trio of uprising events to try and raise the stakes a bit in climate awareness.  Extinction Rebellion’s presentation is based on research which shows that telling the climate truth will indeed alienate some people (why the Green Party hangs back from this), but it also brings some to a much more active and engaged position.

And the truth is not good.  In fact it’s deeply shocking. I’ve said before that Brexit is a picnic compared to the changes, actions and decisions that need to be made around climate action – and of course Brexit is a massive distraction in that respect.  So Extinction Rebellion plan mass non-violent protest later this year against what effectively amounts to the premeditated extinction of…. well, everything. Their case is that once we know and don’t do enough, we are complicit in the continued act of poisoning our planet.

In the context of these short blogs, I was especially interested in the second of their demands (the first is actions to reach zero carbon by 2025).  In order to arrive at decisions which meet the needs of life on earth – rather than those of the paymasters of the Political system – they want to see a People’s Assembly.  This would involve sortition to ensure something close to actual democracy and a body capable of making decisions and recommendations based on evidence.  This is the first time I’ve seen climate activism looking at links changes in decision making systems and I agree, the two must meet.

Will all this work?  Roger Hallam’s view is ‘it’s the only thing that might’ and I’m strongly inclined to agree.

An imperfect storm

It’s a stormy morning in Frome.  Battered by the edges of hurricane Florence – exacerbated by climate change we seem unable to recognise.  And a collection of inputs over the last 12 hours that add to a river of thought:  Firstly a Town Matters council meeting yesterday in which people from three organisations stood and told us in stark terms what new county council cuts really mean.  We move in minutes from positive moving stories of people’s lives changed by simple inputs, to ‘Our funding is being cut this year and I’m being made redundant in December’.  I am not alone in feeling a mixture of horror, shock and anger – and powerless.  Although we have knows this was coming for years, the visceral impact of hitting rock bottom is different.

So I went home and finished reading John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ in bed.  (Dustbowl Oklahoma’s farming populating heading West in desperation, hitting both the worst and best of humanity).  Stories from then mixed with life of now.  Inequalities in Britain are greater than at any point since the nineteenth century, with over a million people considered to be destitute and rural England in the mix as much as anywhere.

Hope – or at least options – comes in my breakfast reading.  Hilary Cottam’s ‘Radical Help’.  Focussed on how we could remake the Welfare State, she simply exposes how we’re continuing to use systems designed a century ago to do a job that has completely changed.  The challenge facing us all is how, when we know what to do, is can we get the drivers of these vast ocean liners to change course?  In health, in education, in work, in political systems, even with climate change, humankind has the information we need to get out of the mess.  But…..


Copyright © Peter Macfadyen 2019