Pivotal began when environmental scientist Peter Daldorph loaned me his copy of Gwynne Dyer's 2008 book, Climate Wars. I think he felt bad about it afterward. The book had upset him, and it upset me too. It's a work of speculation, by a well-respected military historian and journalist, based on both the science, and interviews with world military and political leaders.
In a style as gripping as any spy novel, Dyer presents a number of possible future scenarios - and all but one are ghastly to contemplate. Unfortunately, the one that isn't - the one where the world's leaders, right now, agree that the threat is imminent and we must take immediate action to drastically reduce carbon emissions - is the one he also thinks is the least likely. There just isn't the will, the economic implications are too dire, we all have to agree, and so on, and so forth, to the end of the world, amen.
To a person like me, who lives almost entirely in a world of imagination, the book created a very vivid and unforgettable picture. But it didn't, for me, lead to further action - it just made me depressed. I'm a nature lover, and a humanist, I recycle, buy organic, and take the bus if possible, but what more substantive action could I take? The book's focus was very much on world leadership as the solution to the problem. And this was before the sweeping Jeremy Corbyn Labour leadership victory here in the UK (at this writing it is one day post that victory). Democracy really wasn't seeming up to the task.
"If you think Dyer's bad," Peter said, "you should read Naomi Klein." But it turned out that Naomi Klein was "bad" in an entirely different way. Klein too starts from the position that climate change is happening and must be stopped or slowed or we face dire consequences for the planet and for humanity. But she makes a compelling argument as to why the world's worst offenders have failed to act, linking it to the neo-liberal agenda of privatisation, globalisation and free trade, and pointing out that it is those same policies which have led to increased global and internal inequality.
For me, this put the whole question in a new light. Now, I saw,"winning" the battle against carbon was not necessarily going to result in a depressed and depressing world in which the middle and working classes would suffer the most and the growing economies of the developing world would be stopped in their tracks. Winning this battle could also mean winning a battle against inequality. It could, eventually, mean a better life and a better world for nearly everyone (at least those for whom it's not already too late. I'm thinking of the polar bears now). And this was a world I could imagine without pain. Indeed, it was - potentially - beautiful.
But not everyone is going to want to read a radical book by Naomi Klein.
So what could I, a sometime scriptwriter and filmmaker, without any following or funding, without any skills in permaculture, or organic farming, or politics, or anything much except in creating events, and those mostly for the sake of pure entertainment, what could I, and my friend Peter, do to get that positive vision across and make it real? To help ourselves and others turn and face the changes that are coming, one way or another, in a positive way?
This Post is by Michelle Golder