Richard’s book Endangered Species that I mentioned yesterday is all about the endangered species of English country folk, but after meeting with him I went on to hear George Monbiot, and three other speakers (one from Greenpeace, one from The Campaign Against Climate Change and one from the Heathrow Climate Camp) talk about the wider endangered species – the human being.
Monbiot should be Prime Minister. The situation is unbelievably gloomy and yet he is able to offer a lifeline of hope while still being sober and realistic. As a masterful orator he is completely conversant with his subject, and is able to talk about such a difficult situation with humanity and humour.
It’s best to go the horse’s mouth to hear what he has to say. Have a look at his website and at a project he refers to: Zero Carbon Britain. The latest research shows that only zero carbon emissions can now avert climate catastrophe. Although this seems impossible to achieve, Monbiot believes it can be done. It would apparently not be expensive to create an array of solar panels across the Sahara and a field of windmills in the North Sea that would feed into the European grid and give enough zero-carbon electricity to power all of Europe. But is there enough political will to achieve this? And then there’s the rest of the world…
But as he finished by saying: “If not now, when? If not here, where? If not us, then who?”
To give you a feel for the power of his ideas, here’s an excerpt from his site. He’s one of those people who dares to say what many of us only dare to think…
How else will the destructive effects of growth be stopped?
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 9th October 2007
If you are of a sensitive disposition, I advise you to turn the page now. I am about to break the last of the universal taboos. I hope that the recession now being forecast by some economists materialises.
I recognise that recession causes hardship. Like everyone I am aware that it would cause some people to lose their jobs and homes. I do not dismiss these impacts or the harm they inflict, though I would argue that they are the avoidable results of an economy designed to maximise growth rather than welfare. What I would like you to recognise is something much less discussed: that, beyond a certain point, hardship is also caused by economic growth.
On Sunday I visited the only UN biosphere reserve in Wales: the Dyfi estuary. As is usual at weekends, several hundred people had come to enjoy its beauty and tranquillity and, as is usual, two or three people on jet skis were spoiling it for everyone else. Most economists will tell us that human welfare is best served by multiplying the number of jet skis. If there are two in the estuary today, there should be four there by this time next year and eight the year after. Because the estuary’s beauty and tranquillity don’t figure in the national accounts (no one pays to watch the sunset) and because the sale and use of jet skis does, this is deemed an improvement in human welfare….