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

Rituals for Lover Earth

by Shaun Chamberlin on October 16th, 2009

Lover Earth

This is Dark Optimism’s first ever guest post. The below article was originally published a week ago by Charles Eisenstein, on the Reality Sandwich web magazine.

It blew me away, exploring the themes of cultural stories and definitions of self that will be familiar to my regular readers, yet bringing to light their deeper reaches in a way that I found both enlightening and exciting. It is longer than my usual contributions, but well worth the effort.

As Charles kindly gave permission for me to reproduce his article here, I will let his words speak for themselves.

Read more »

All Party Parliamentary TEQs report – rationing, not carbon trading

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 14th, 2009

Market invisible hand

As the evidence for the utter inapplicability of free market carbon trading to our climate emergency continues to pile up, interest continues to grow in the less PR-friendly alternative – the rationing of carbon-rated energy.

Yesterday, the UK Government’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas previewed a draft report commissioned from The Lean Economy Connection. The report, which I co-authored with Dr. David Fleming, emphasises the necessity of considering our pressing energy challenges alongside climate change, and argues that national energy rationing systems on the model of TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas) will be essential to the fair distribution of fuel as shortages unfold, with implementation now an urgent priority for the UK.

John Hemming MP, Chairman of the All Party group, stated that the UK government remains unprepared for peak oil: “The evidence is now strong that peak oil is either upon us or just over the horizon. Even the International Energy Agency accepts that an oil supply crunch seems to be on its way. The UK government should urgently consider the TEQs system, as I believe it’s the only comprehensive and fair way to tackle climate change and the coming oil crisis.” Read more »

My respect for the ‘Drax 29’

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 3rd, 2009

Sign my pledge at PledgeBank

A week after NASA’s leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, actress Darryl Hannah and others crossed the line into illegal direct action in a desperate attempt to prevent coal mining and burning from ending our hopes of retaining a hospitable climate, twenty-nine protesters are standing trial here in England for a similar action last year.

The ‘Drax 29’ admit stopping (safely) a coal train two miles outside the Drax power station in an attempt to prevent the deaths already being caused by climate change. Nonetheless they have entered a “Not Guilty” plea against the charge of ‘Obstructing the Railway’ (which carries a maximum two year prison sentence). They are defending themselves in court, and after reading their inspiring closing statement justifying this position to the jury, I felt moved to create the pledge above. You can read their defence yourself in The Guardian here, or it is reproduced in full below: Read more »

Despairing of Ed Miliband, Becoming a Filmstar, and Other Adventures

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 4th, 2009

Shaun Chamberlin
It has been another crazy whirlwind of a month, with this weekend set to be the first in five which I get to spend in Transition Town Home, having spoken recently in Bungay, Glastonbury, Belsize Park and the Forest of Dean, as well at the Transition Conference (I hate that name, can’t we call it a ‘Gathering’ or something?) in Battersea, and at the Sunrise Celebration Festival.

One highlight for me was watching the world premi√®re of the movie “In Transition” and being surprised and delighted to find that I was in it (having completely forgotten the quick interview they grabbed with me at my book launch!). Another was meeting an A-Level teacher who is already using my book as a teaching aid for his Environmental Design students.

But perhaps of wider interest was the fact that Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, turned up at the Transition Conference as a ‘keynote listener’, but still managed to drop a few bombshells. Read more »

The Transition Timeline – a closer look

by Shaun Chamberlin on April 15th, 2009

The Transition Timeline - front cover

The last month has been a bit of a blur, with very well-attended book launch events all over Britain, a two-day seminar at the Centre for Alternative Technology scoping out Zero Carbon Britain 2, more radio interviews, and even being caught on film for the first time (more practice required methinks!).

While I’ve been zipping around, a number of people have requested a more detailed write-up on The Transition Timeline than I have so far provided online, so let’s take a closer look. Read more »

A Lost Generation

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 5th, 2009

BBC Radio 4 discusses Peak Oil (intelligently!)

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 27th, 2008

BBC Radio 4

The “You and Yours” programme on BBC Radio 4 this week held a studio discussion on Peak Oil, with energy investment banker Matt Simmons, peak oil educator Richard Heinberg and the Chair of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil, John Hemming MP. The 12 minute discussion can be heard here and includes discussion of the options open to the UK government, including Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs).

Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 22nd, 2008


An ingeniously clear and engaging 11 minute animation explaining why the next few years are the most important humanity has ever faced, or will ever face. We who are lucky enough to be alive now are effectively the most powerful people who will ever live, and future generations are breathlessly watching our every choice.

More information on the animation and the thorough research behind it can be found at: http://wakeupfreakout.org/

The climate science translation guide

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 3rd, 2008

Age Of Stupid Climate-o-meter

We are all familiar with the concept of climate change, and the need for reduced carbon emissions, but really getting a handle on the scale of the problem can be difficult, thanks to all the confusing terminology.

I looked all over the web for a straightforward comprehensive explanation of terms like Global Warming Potential (GWP) and the different meanings of CO2equivalent but I couldn’t find it, so eventually I decided to spend some of my time (and the time of many helpful friends and colleagues) on creating one.

I didn’t count on quite how intricate the underlying science is (it became ever clearer to me why there is so much confusion in this area), so the process took some considerable time, but I believe that this post is now something that many will find useful. It has been checked for accuracy by qualified experts. Read more »

Social anarchism and non-violent direct action

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 10th, 2008

Collective bridge building

(pic – yesterday’s non-violent direct action at Kingsnorth, courtesy of Indymedia)

I’m back from this year’s Climate Camp, and was deeply impressed with what I found there, both in terms of the organisation of the site (carried out largely by social anarchists) and the attitude and behaviour of the protesters.

The Camp is still running as I write, and I know large numbers of people are remaining to clear the site of all traces of our presence (in line with the request of the landowner), but for me it has been the most enjoyable, inspiring and re-energising of weeks. Judging by the media response I wasn’t alone in this. Read more »