"To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing." - Raymond Williams

#Brexit, #Gaiexit and the borders of our globe

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 22nd, 2016

World Borders

On the eve of the #Brexit referendum, I have found myself struck by the juxtaposition of two exceptional pieces of writing which run somewhat deeper than the ‘lowest common denominator’ debate running in the mainstream media.

It wasn’t immediately clear to me which way I would vote, but reading these nuanced pieces – which draw out sensible reasons for considering both sides of the argument – helped me to make a decision.

The first is this piece by Giles Fraser in The Guardian. I believe Fraser has declared that he will vote ‘Out’, yet unlike many ‘Brexiteers’ his piece makes a crucial argument in favour of free movement for people: Read more »

Fee and Dividend or TEQs? In the aftermath of Paris COP21, what *should* effective climate policy look like?

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 21st, 2015

We Saved The World

We just sent out our Fleming Policy Centre newsletter, with reflections on the Paris climate summit. Bottom line: it’s not good. In the words of the author Naomi Klein, “Our leaders have shown themselves willing to set our world on fire.”

Meanwhile, the mainstream media seem to be doing their best to put the world to sleep again. One excitable front-page headline I noticed in The Observer proclaimed:

“World leaders hail Paris climate deal as ‘major leap for mankind’: Almost 200 countries sign historic pledge to hold global temperatures to a maximum rise of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”.

The same article concluded on p9, with a quiet mention that: “there will be no legal obligation for countries to cut emissions”.

In truth, the good news is found elsewhere, with the ever-swelling numbers of ordinary people realising that our future is being destroyed in our name. In the print edition of the paper though, one tiny voice of sanity did sneak in to a sidebox, as climate scientist James Hansen commented on the agreement: “It’s a fraud really, a fake”.

But if we are so dismissive of what global politics is producing, then it is perhaps fair to ask what we wish to see instead. Read more »

David Fleming’s legendary Lean Logic approaching publication (at last!)

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 29th, 2015

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It

I am pleased and proud to be able to mark the 5th anniversary of my friend David Fleming‘s death with the news that his life’s work is approaching publication.

I believe that a beautiful way to honour those we love after their death is to keep alive in the world that which was best in them. In David’s case, there was no clearer way to do so than to see his masterwork Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It reach the audience that deserves it.

As Rob Hopkins and Jonathon Porritt explain in their forewords (yet to be released), it is a book that has been hugely influential even before its publication!

The copy-edited manuscript is now with the publishers ahead of its summer release, but I thought I would mark today by sharing the new cover design (I love it!) and my introductory preface:

Read more »

Dark Optimism’s first drug commercial

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 8th, 2015

Words on religion, from beyond the grave

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 19th, 2015

Dr. David Fleming

I am currently hunkered down working on a project close to my heart, editing my late friend and colleague Dr. David Fleming‘s incredible life’s work Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It, for its publication by Chelsea Green later this year.

I did though hear about the pope’s interesting new encyclical. It’s well worth a browse (and do check out Rap News’ take), but here are a few of my favourite lines:

“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” (yep, this is an official document from the Pope!)

“The ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems require that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms.”

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The Dangers of Carbon Pricing, and the Canny Way Forward

by Shaun Chamberlin on May 29th, 2015

CO2 roadsign

Lately we’ve seen the president of the World Bank and ‘business leaders from the very carbon-intensive industries’ pushing for carbon pricing (taxes or ‘carbon trading’ schemes). This is intended to demonstrate their deep change of heart and determination to start seriously addressing climate change, but to my eyes it is a deeply cynical, pernicious attempt to channel the passion of those deeply-committed to action on climate change into mechanisms that will only maintain the suicidal status quo.

Which is why I poured all my experience of ten years’ work on the topic into this peer-reviewed academic paper, which I believe demolishes the case for carbon taxes or carbon trading schemes as the way forward, and shows a clear, well-researched alternative (though it took almost as much effort as writing my book!).
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Interview on grief, Dark Optimism, aliveness and activism

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 21st, 2014

Kosmos Dark Optimism image

This is an excerpt from a longer video interview Rhonda Fabian conducted with Shaun Chamberlin at the New Story Summit in Findhorn, Scotland as part of a Findhorn Foundation documentary initiative.

Originally published in the Kosmos Journal.

Rhonda Fabian: Shaun, please tell me what Dark Optimism means to you.

Dark Optimism is a widely misunderstood term. I get a lot of people coming up to me saying, “Are you feeling dark today, or optimistic?” That’s not quite what I mean. Dark Optimism means being unashamedly positive about the kind of world we could create, but unashamedly realistic about how far we are from doing that right now.

So it’s not that sort of bright shiny optimism, which I can find quite frustrating. It’s more like, “Well everything isn’t fine actually, you know?” It’s an ability to look at the more difficult aspects of where we are and what we’re doing, whilst also retaining a sort of deep faith in human potential. And also drawing on the deeper questions of why we’re really here. And does the state of the world in any way challenge our purpose in being here, or make that impossible? I don’t think it does.
Read more »

RapNews on the New World Order

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 1st, 2014

~~~

RapNews have outdone themselves, and that’s saying something:

August wanderings…

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 1st, 2014

A couple of nice videos from my wanderings in August. I started with a few days at the ever-wonderful Transition Heathrow, to support them through their threatened eviction. You can see how that went in the short video above.

And then a coach was arranged from Grow Heathrow up to the Reclaim The Power anti-fracking camp in Blackpool, where I gave a couple of workshops, on TEQs and the Grow Heathrow eviction resistance, as well as doing my first Legal Observer training. The video below tells the story of that camp, and I certainly learned a lot there, as well as having a great time.

It reminded me in many ways of the Climate Camps – it’s amazing what a group of committed people can build and achieve when nobody’s telling them what to do… Read more »

‘The Impact of Transition. In numbers’ – a note of caution

by Shaun Chamberlin on May 19th, 2014

This post was originally written by me as a guest post for Rob Hopkins’ Transition Culture blog, but I have kindly given myself permission to reproduce it here 😉

Moomin

A response to a recent post by Rob Hopkins ‘The impact of Transition. In numbers.‘.

Transition is a wonderful melange of conversations, projects, interactions, inspirations, hard work, failures, successes and entirely unexpected events which we are altogether unsure what to make of!  Transition initiatives themselves are as unique as the people who make them up.  Initially termed ‘Transition Towns’, they have twisted and squirmed out from under that label like squealing children from under a favourite uncle, becoming Transition Islands, Sustainable Villages, Cities in Transition and all the rest.

To use Rob’s favourite quote from Moominland: 

"It was a funny little path, winding here and there, dashing off in different directions, and sometimes even tying a knot in itself from sheer joy. (You don’t get tired of a path like that, and I’m not sure that it doesn’t get you home quicker in the end).” 

Yes, Transition: fun, exciting, inspirational, powerful, even maybe uncharacterisable!

But, remember, it is just one thing, this Transition.

Blergh.

Deadening isn’t it, this counting?  

What does it even mean anyway: "one thing"?  Surely Transition is a mess of thousands of different people, communities, activities, passions..?  At best it’s one category.  And who wants to be categorised?  

And what’s a category anyway? 

There is always a difference between any one thing and any other, so to say that there are two of something (let alone two hundred) is always an imperfect statement, in the same way that an analogy between two things is always imperfect.  Analogies may highlight important similarities between two things, but they gloss over important differences too, which is why they can be dangerously misleading when applied too widely.  Numbers too are imperfect analogies for reality, and are dangerous in just the same way.

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