The news on climate change goes from bad to worse. The sinks which absorb some of the carbon we emit are failing – the Canadian boreal forest now emits more carbon than it absorbs thanks to infestation with a beetle, and the oceans are also failing to absorb the amount of CO2 they used to as they warm up and acidify.
The failure of politics
And the politicians are failing to come up with adequate solutions. The G20 meeting has put back the chances of getting a good deal in Copenhagen. The stimulus package meant to rescue the world economy will make things even worse for the environment. The Waxman-Markey Bill now going through the US Congress would allow America to ‘offset’ ie buy in from other countries, 27% of its emission reductions, when they should be making more cuts themselves.
Vested interests block real change
Everywhere the vested interests that benefit from business as usual are using the excuse that the world’s financial crisis makes it difficult to act on climate change. Nothing could be further from the truth. A new Green industrial revolution would revive the world economy much more effectively than keeping the old, failed, environmentally damaging infrastructure going. And it would be better than the false solutions the vested interests that currently run the world have been promoting. Investing in renewable energy would bring far more jobs than investing in nuclear power, or so-called ‘clean coal’.
And acting to curb our carbon emissions would make us happier, as Jonathan Ward, our advisor on well-being, points out in his article on our website. No longer would we have to work long hours at jobs we dislike and we only do to pay the mortgage, manufacturing consumer junk which is programmed to break down as soon as the guarantee runs out so that it has to be thrown away and replaced. Instead we would work much shorter hours and have time to spend with our friends and families, the things that really do make us happy.
A new age of leisure
Whatever happened to the ‘age of leisure’ we were promised, when machines would do most of the work? We could have much longer holidays, enough to sail away on holiday instead of having to fly, thus curbing the most environmentally damaging of all leisure activities. This is not to say that all jobs are pointless and environmentally damaging, but a lot are, and the really worthwhile jobs could be shared out, so doctors, for example, would no longer have to work insanely long hours to keep the NHS going.
The Zero Carbon Caravan
All this makes the task of the Zero Carbon Caravan even more important. The UN Climate Summit is coming up in Copenhagen in December 2009. The world’s politicians and business leaders will be deciding a new climate deal for our future. We need to make sure these talks lead to action on the scale that the science demands to prevent runaway climate chaos.
A war-time effort
This will demand enormous changes in how we live, but is also a great opportunity to reshape the economy. From agriculture to rocket science, existing skills will be in great demand to fill rewarding, necessary and people/planet friendly jobs. The transition is going to require as great a communal effort as was needed in the Second World War, when the economy was changed over to making weapons in a few months. Only the threat is not from Hitler, it is our own addiction to excessive material wealth at the expense of the planet that sustains us – and the poor whose resources we steal. But the wartime effort shows we can do it, and this would be more than justified - WW2 killed 45 million people, climate chaos threatens to wipe out 10 times as many. There is no safe place to run to, the only better world will be the one we create for ourselves. Let’s fight climate change, not war.
Zero carbon travel for a zero carbon world
The Zero Carbon Caravan will take the demand for ‘a Zero Carbon World, as fast as we can’ all the way to the Summit by travelling there completely ‘zero carbon’ – using cycles, sailing ships and kayaks, showing how we can live and have fun without fossil fuels. Zero Carbon events along the way will show and discuss how and why to go zero carbon. It will be ‘zero carbon travel for a zero carbon world’.
By travelling in a relay, (so you don’t have to go all the way to Copenhagen), we will show the world’s leaders how we can work together to build a sustainable and just world, and avoid the nightmare consequences of climate chaos. It will be a journey to remember, with the chance to meet, educate and inspire thousands of people along the way.
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