Thursday, February 22, 2007

I will if you will...

First, a sing-song: Did you ever sing this on the bus? (To the tune of 'She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes'):

Singing....I will if you will I
Singing....I will if you will I
Singing, I will if you will,
I will if you will
I will if you will, so will I.

That was the chorus. There were several quite rude verses which we, as schoolboys, sang with gusto on field trips. (Let me see, how did it go? 'Oh she's got a lovely bottom set of teeth.' I'll leave you to work that one out.) Oh, and there's a Scots version which goes 'Oh ye cannae shove yer grannie aff the bus'. Thought you should know that before getting down to the heavy stuff!

What can we do? No, I haven't taken leave of my senses: just trying to inject a little humour into a serious subject: climate change and what we can all do about it. I expect, like me, you're rather tired of reading endless stuff about how serious it all is and how we have to start doing something now. But no-one answers the massively begged question: What exactly do we do? One of our organic veg customers made exactly this point to Val (my wife) a couple of weeks back: We can all see there's trouble ahead but what are we supposed to do? Changing light bulbs and recycling obviously isn't enough. It's up to the politicians, isn't it?

I will if you will: Politicians usually follow where the public leads so we all should have have our say and do our fair share. All of us. That's the point of the song: I will if you will... Most of us are ready to make sacrifices if only we knew that everyone else was doing so too. At present, we see friends flying off on absurdly cheap polluting holidays, driving around in gas-guzzlers, keeping their houses nice and warm with coal and oil, buying food from far and wide so why - the reasonable argument goes - should I be the first to downsize my lifestyle? I will if you will... but you probably won't so why should I?

Practical action: Here's some ideas. Please add more in Comments if you wish.
  1. Get involved in a climate change network such as This sort of environmental social networking site stops you feeling alone and gives you an opportunity to see what others are doing and how they are doing it. It also helps you to start or join a local network or group based on where you live or at your workplace, though it can be as global as you wish. The possibilities for forming such groups of like-minded people are legion. (No doubt we'll have climate change dating agencies soon. Now there's a good idea!)
  2. Get in touch with your local political representative. Tell them what you think should be happening and what you're prepared to do. is a good start for those in the UK if you don't know who your MP is or how to get in touch. Carbon rationing is an idea whose time has come but the politicians need to know there is grassroots support. Try the Carbon Rationing Action Groups for details of how this works and see how inherently fair it is. I will if you will...
  3. Get together with your neighbours and form a group. You could start off by viewing Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' which should set things in motion. It's now available on DVD.
  4. Calculate your carbon footprint. Start by reading It's carbon judgment day by Mark Lynas.
  5. Get in touch with your local newspaper to tell them about you and your group are doing or plan to do. That could be anything from installing unexciting but essential building insulation (the single most worthwhile thing to do for which there are grants available) to making serious carbon-reduction commitments or pledges. How? Join Cred and make pledges to save carbon.
  6. If you have kids, remember they're the inheritors of this awful mess we and our forebears have unintentionally made of our planet's atmosphere, ocean and land. It doesn't have to be like this. Think 'out of the box' about your lifestyle. If you come up with any smart ideas, tell everyone in any way that suits you. Al Gore has a small army of people trained to present his 'slide show'. Could you do something like that? There's nothing to beat getting the word across by actual local contacts if you have that kind of charisma! (I don't so I blog instead.)

And me? What am I doing? If all the suggestions about sound a little prescriptive, please note that I really do practice what I preach. I'm typing this with a warm blanket wrapped around my legs, a wooly hat on my head and I'm wearing a thick fleece. It's not too cold today (about 12 degrees C both inside and outside) and I'm confortably warm with no heating. Val, who is a convert to being the change you want to see in the world (thank you Gandhi) like me, wears similar outfits. We travel very little, never fly (obviously or I wouldn't be writing this blog) and I've just asked her if she would calculate our carbon footprint. We do have a very efficient wood-burner for the evenings and use Green electricity and I'm in the process of building a passive solar structure onto the south-facing house front... more on this.

Everybody's doing it, doing it, doing it! Well that's what we'd all like. So let's all sing from the same hymnsheet, eh? Someone has to start the ball rolling so let it be you. Remember the refrain: I will if you will, so will I!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Happy Birthday! I hope...

Last night, my new granddaughter was born. I wish her many happy returns and a wonderful and secure life on our still-beautiful planet. I so earnestly hope that all goes well for her (and my other four grandchildren)... and yet I worry. What a world she's been born into! Over thirty years ago, I remember my grandfather worrying openly to my wife and me about the future for our own children and questioning the wisdom of bringing more of them into a problem-filled world. And yet, back then hardly anybody had heard of climate change and world population stood at just over half what it is now.

Fortunately, my new granddaughter has two of the most wonderful caring parents a child could wish for and she lives in a country which is less likely than many to be badly affected by climate change. So she's a lot better off than most of the kids who were born on her birthnight elsewhere on our planet.

But if she were about ten years old now, she might make this video.