Today was meant to be about chasing late invoices (grrr) and Tweeting and emailing people with venues that might want to show my first film (www.invisiblecircusfilm.com). But I was pulled up short by the #ClimateReality online stream which is happening for the next 24 hours. Another Al Gore brainchild, it takes each hour in a different country, and covers the real-world effects of climate change in that place. Right now (10.31am) it’s the first hour in Canberra, Australia. A well-informed and impassioned woman has just finished a presentation encouraging people to stand up and speak up about the reality of climate change in the face of denial. She’s about to introduce the former Australian director for the WWF.
It reminded me that this is the stuff I really think is the most important to think, write and create work about. It also raises questions and issues for me. The thrust of this campaign is all about being positive and campaigning for changes in the law, contraints on the fossil fuel industry and on big business, but also- as the WWF guy has done- working with the World Bank to ‘put a price on pollution’ and boost renewable energy.
I’m torn here, because the basic ‘anti-denial, pro-reality’ message is completely vital, and of course we need more renewable energy urgently. However, when speaking on solutions the campaign seems to presuppose working within capitalism and utilising market forces to ameliorate the effects of climate change. There’s not much discussion in the campaign material of how an economic system based on constant ‘growth’ and expansion is basically unsuitable for a planet with dwindling natural resources. Not to mention, these institutions may not exist in the same way or have the same priorities after a large scale economic collapse.
I don’t have much faith in a set of solutions that doesn’t deal with that. It’s not just because of ideological problems with the injustices of capitalism, I actually see it as a mathematical issue. So much clean water, so much fertile soil, so much fuel, so many thousand year old trees- all being decimated by rampant consumption at an insane rate, fuelled by an economic system in the process of eating itself. Capitalism has to grow or it dies. And it needs cheap raw materials to grow. Where are they going to come from? Haven’t we largely pissed them away? Is the Earth making any more oil, gold, uranium, coal, gas, water… not a fraction as fast as we’re consuming them. Even if there is lots left of a particular resource, it doesn’t change the fact that using it and using it on an industrial scale is going to lead inexorably to depletion. Errr…duh? And what other way of using resources can capitalism really offer us? Who is going to make a buck out of leaving it for the next generation?
My next post is going to be about Uncivilisation, which happened in Hampshire about a month ago. It was founded by a pair of writers, Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine, who had both been green campaigners for years. I interviewed them both at the end of the festival, and am in the process of editing the interview and some of the other footage I got into an ‘Uncivilisation’ clip. It was a fascinating weekend, a mixture of practical post-collapse skill workshops, scary debates on the potential effects of collapse, sharing of personal fears and emotions, and writing workshops about the ‘narratives’ that have led our culture to this place, and the new less destructive ones we could create for the future.
Everybody I met there said that they would need a week or so to process what they saw and heard at the festival. I thought I’d be able to blog about it about a week later but my Bristol life of theatre and online life of promoting my first film took over yet again and wiped the lessons of #unciv11 from my mind for a while. My issues with #Climatereality reminded me. The talk of working with the World Bank, lobbying politicians, looking eagerly forward to electric cars, reminded me of all those ‘narratives’, those myths, we discussed at #unciv11.
The myth that man is above nature and could and should control it.
The myth that we deserve the things we want, and can have them without consequence- for example, electric cars, and even more wealth creation through renewable energy.
Above all, the myth of progress- that our story as a species is one of constant improvement and betterment, that all of us are part of a struggle for some final utopian pinnacle in the future. Rather than all of us inhabiting the present moment on a finite planet as we always have.
More on #unciv11 soon, I promise. Meanwhile, tune in to #Climatereality and send the link to any deniers you know. They’re now onto Korea and the effects they are experiencing there- though the translator is having some problems. It’s good to spread the word about the reality of climate change. Just lets not forget that even the terms of the ‘reality’ they’re discussing is full of harmful myths about humanity’s place in the world and the best ways forward.