Well, I did, as I anticipated in my last blog, manage to plant both trees this week and Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) has planted about 150 bulbs; so mission accomplished on that.
However, we have made no progress on booking a holiday. A couple of new obstacles have emerged on that. LSW wants sun and warmth but we both recognise that, as part of our new climate emergency consciousness, we should be reducing (if not eliminating) greenhouse gas-emitting flights to warm places from our life-style.
Also, we have now left it so late in the year that any city-break type holiday in Europe using the train rather than plane may fall foul of extra security checks if the UK leaves the European Union without a ‘deal’. My idea of hell is spending a large percentage of the holiday waiting in a queue to have a visa check or whatnot. So we are waiting and seeing what ‘deal’ emerges and may try Lyon by rail in November.
LSW and I have attended a few meetings regarding the climate emergency in the last week. I have been regularly attending (and documenting) a meeting of people in our village interested in moving the local parish to carbon neutrality by 2030. We both attended a larger meeting along similar lines in our nearby town, Nailsworth, which set up a climate action group about 4 years ago. Then we both went to a local Extinction Rebellion introductory session to find out more about the approach of this organisation towards the climate emergency.
I mentioned, a couple of blog posts ago, that our local village Parish Council has just committed to planting a 1,000 trees to help offset carbon emissions across the Parish. Nailsworth is already undertaking a similar exercise and have firm plans to landscape and plant 100 trees around a large playing field in the town. LSW and I will plan to help directly with that and might also sign up to planting a few more trees in our field.
Of course, our reduction in flights, our migration to an increasingly vegetarian diet, our attempts to reduce waste, our upgrade of our sash windows to double glazing, and the recent acquisition of an e-car powered by sustainable electricity are all tiny steps in the face of a global calamity. The scale of the climate emergency, and the challenge of reducing global warming given the number of tipping points that have probably already passed, were certainly brought home to us at the Extinction Rebellion meeting we attended.
However, we need to start somewhere. Despite now being retired and so possessing a flexible schedule that would allow me to spend a little time at ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’, I’m not yet sure I’m ready to be arrested for the cause (as many Extinction Rebellion participants evidently are). While I’m thinking about that protest option, I will continue with some lower key changes.
As I do so, I will keep in mind what George Monbiot (a columnist, political and environmental activist) wrote as he was arrested as part of a non-violent Extinction Rebellion protest:
“I know this action will expose me to criticism as well as prosecution. Like other prominent activists, I will be lambasted for hypocrisy: this is now the favoured means of trying to take down climate activists. Yes we are hypocrites. Because we are embedded in the systems we contest, and life is complicated, no-one has achieved moral purity. The choice we face is not between hypocrisy and purity, but between hypocrisy and cynicism. It is better to strive to do good, and often fail, than not to strive at all.”
So, I do worry that China and Russia and, now, the US Government are not at the table joining in to set global carbon emission reduction targets and that governments setting emission targets then take insufficient action to get close to them – a challenge that town and Parish Councils will also have to rise to! I do worry that oil and gas companies are investing billions more in resource extraction than in renewable energy. I do worry that our measures of well-being are overly oriented towards gross national product growth and consumption not health, relationships and happiness. None of that is going to change any time soon despite Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion’s clarion calls.
LSW and I live very comfortably; we are ‘embedded in the system’ and maybe we are the ‘hypocrites’ George Monbiot identifies. We are hardly holiday paupers having been to Australia earlier this year. I’m looking forward to roast chicken dinner on Sunday. We still buy blueberries grown in Peru for goodness sake! But we are starting to strive to do a little bit towards reducing our carbon footprint and that’s something.