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

Interview on David Fleming, music and hippos!

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 21st, 2016

Lean Logic and Surviving the Future

Last week the wonderful Brianne Goodspeed of Chelsea Green Publishing interviewed me on my late mentor David Fleming and the astonishing gift he left to the world.

His sudden death in 2010 left behind his great unpublished work—Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It—a masterpiece more than thirty years in the making.

In it, Fleming examines the consequences of an economy that destroys the very foundations—ecological, economic, and cultural—upon which it is built. But his core focus is on what could follow its inevitable demise: his compelling, grounded vision for a cohesive society that provides a satisfying, culturally-rich context for lives well lived, in an economy not reliant on the impossible promise of eternal economic growth. A society worth living in. Worth fighting for. Worth contributing to.

And since his death, I have edited out a paperback version—Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy—to concisely present his rare insights and uniquely enjoyable writing style in a more conventional read-it-front-to-back format. Chelsea Green are simultaneously launching both on September 8th, but since I have just received my first copies, I believe some bookshops may have them already…

For more about the man, the books, and the hippo, read on!

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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 »

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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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 »

What We Are Fighting For: A Radical Collective Manifesto

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 20th, 2012

What We Are Fighting For: A Radical Collective Manifesto
Greek anger


Out today from Pluto Press is What We Are Fighting For: A Radical Collective Manifesto – a book to which I was delighted to contribute.

My chapter, “The Struggle for Meaning”, wraps up the section on ‘New Economics’ and addresses our collective fight for meaningful lives, and the importance of the beliefs and stories that shape and power our struggle. It considers the Transition movement and TEQs through this lens, viewing them as part of the vast, diverse upwelling of people around the world resisting the current death march and fighting, so simply, for a future.

I feel most honoured to see my work published alongside inspirational writer/activists like John Holloway, David Graeber and Ann Pettifor.

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All Party Parliamentary TEQs report launch

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 23rd, 2011

APPGOPO TEQs front cover

What a week – Tuesday’s launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil’s report into TEQs was a tremendous success, with excellent media coverage, including Time magazine, The Sunday Times, Bloomberg News, the BBC, the Financial Times and many others (linked article list). The only problem has been that the degree of interest has been such that I haven’t found a moment to write anything here – although I have been Tweeting, I feel as though I’m the last to cover it!

A fuller, more thoughtful piece may follow when time allows, but for now take a look at the videos from the event (Caroline Lucas MP, John Hemming MP, Jeremy Leggett and me), the various blogs that are discussing the implications, and of course the report itself.

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In memoriam, David Fleming

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 29th, 2010

David Fleming and Shaun Chamberlin

My dear friend and colleague David Fleming unexpectedly passed away last night, peacefully in his sleep.

I am still somewhat in shock.

I only had the great fortune to know him for four years, but from the outset I knew what a privilege it was. He found me at a time when I was struggling to know where to direct my energies, and supported me in so many ways to learn how to build a life around doing what I love.

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LSE Complexity Seminar – audio and slides

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 7th, 2010

Shaun Chamberlin speaking at LSE Complexity Seminar

The slides and audio are now available from the seminar David Fleming and I gave at the London School of Economics last week.

The topic was “Transition Towns and Tradable Energy Quotas: Frameworks to support a diversity of small-scale solutions to the large-scale problems of peak oil and climate change”.

Note that the slides are mis-numbered on the LSE site, so my opening section is Audio Part 1 (which begins with introductions from those present) and Slides Part 2, and David’s is Audio Part 2 and Slides Part 1!

My section was a half-hour run-through of climate change, peak energy, finance and the Transition response, much of which will be familiar to regular readers, but delivered to an interesting (and interested) new audience.

Transcript of Radio Ecoshock interview

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 9th, 2010

a-Infos Radio Project

Christopher Fraser of London Transition has kindly transcribed the popular interview with Canada’s Radio Ecoshock that I posted a couple of months back. I’ve also added links at a few pertinent points.

Alex Smith, Radio Ecoshock: [addressing audience] You know we’re going to run out of civilisation’s lifeblood, fossil fuels. And if we burn what’s left, the climate may tip into a mass extinction event. Meanwhile barking madness seems to be the only growth industry in some places. Is it time for more pills, booze or Endtime religion?

Our next guest says there may be some hope left. Shaun Chamberlin’s blog is called Dark Optimism, and that may be as good as it gets. Shaun is part of the Transition Movement in Britain; he’s the author of the new book The Transition Timeline for a local, resilient future, and co-author of an upcoming report for the British Parliament on a scheme to give everyone an energy quota. Shaun, welcome to Radio Ecoshock.

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Radio Ecoshock interview

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 28th, 2010

a-Infos Radio Project

Above is a 24 minute interview I did last week with Canada’s excellent Radio Ecoshock. The full 60 minute show can be heard on Energy Bulletin here.

Dark Optimism readers may also be particularly interested in Ecoshock’s recent “Expecting Collapse” edition, featuring interviews with Dmitry Orlov and John Michael Greer, as well as clips from Professor Joseph Tainter.

Apologies to all those who’ve been visiting looking for this, I’ve been laid up in bed for the past couple of days.

Edit – Christopher Fraser of London Transition has kindly transcribed this interview in full. Available here.