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

Why our cultural stories matter

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 13th, 2008

Next Generation

“A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have often written on the topic of cultural stories, but I am told I have never explicitly addressed on this blog why I feel they are so critically important in our struggle for a future.

I am on record as stating that climate change and peak oil represent perhaps the most urgent and significant forces shaping our age, yet in an important sense even these trends are only symptoms of an underlying issue. They are consequences of the choices we have collectively made and continue to make, and these choices are formed by our understanding of the world – by our stories. Read more »

Transition Towns – get involved where you live

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 7th, 2008

Transition Towns

Last month I discussed some of the national and international developments that are shaping our future, but in spite of the ongoing climate talks in Poznan, today I’d like to focus on the importance of local-level action.

Amidst all the focus on global climate agreements it’s easy to forget that agreeing a tightening global cap on emissions is not a solution in itself – such a cap would be meaningless without on-the-ground solutions and lifestyle changes at the local and individual levels. This is why I see the tremendously rapid spread of the Transition movement as such a hopeful sign. Read more »

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 »

Focus on Climate Change and ignore Peak Oil? Not good enough

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 14th, 2008

Oil Platform - Day

Lately I seem to be encountering many climate change activists who have a blind spot when it comes to peak oil. At present, Friends of the Earth appear to be particularly prone to this.

They assert that climate change is overwhelmingly urgent (no arguments from me there) and so that the depletion of fossil fuels is largely irrelevant. In fact they argue that it can only be good news, limiting the availability of these dangerous substances which have the potential to destabilise our climate.

But this ignores the reason why humanity is so loathe to wean itself off these fuels in the first place. They are exceptionally potent energy sources which greatly increase our ability to change our human infrastructure and shape the world around us. Energy is perhaps best defined as the ability to do work, and there is much work to be done in the transition to a low-carbon way of life. Read more »