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

Dark Optimism – the album!

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 31st, 2011

Because why not? 🙂

A collection of songs from various genres, all in some way pertinent to the state of the world as we enter the new year. Here’s hoping that the ‘2012 apocalypse’ meme doesn’t encourage enough panic to fulfil itself!

(this ‘album’ is shaped by the songs contributed by Dark Optimism readers last year, and others since. Thanks all!)

Edit – January 2012: Ani DiFranco (song #9 above) turned up at OccupyLSX outside St. Paul’s the other day. See below 🙂

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.

Read more »

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.

Heinberg – after Copenhagen

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 15th, 2010

An interview with the ever-insightful Richard Heinberg, discussing where we should put our efforts in the aftermath of the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit. It is well worth a watch, and you might want to consider spreading it to your contacts via the “Share This” link in the bottom right corner of this post.

I heartily endorse his perspective, but disagree when he argues in support of carbon taxation at around fifteen minutes in, saying that “we need to make fossil fuels more expensive”. In my opinion, we do not – we need to guarantee a fair entitlement to the available energy, not ration it by the depth of people’s pockets.

As Richard says, “if you’re taxing everybody on their use of fossil fuels – raising their cost of living – it’s pretty hard to get their buy-in to that”, but once you guarantee people a fair entitlement, in line with a declining cap, society can then collectively focus on keeping the price of energy as low as possible, which is a simply-understood task that everyone can buy into with enthusiasm.

Richard is touching on a widely-unrecognised contradiction at the heart of present energy/climate policy discussions – the desire to raise carbon prices while keeping energy prices low. Market-based approaches struggle to see past this, but TEQs would resolve it at a stroke, through the recognition that reducing the quantity of carbon emissions can be best achieved by means other than a high price.

Heroes and villains in Copenhagen, and beyond

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 5th, 2010

ObamaMan

“Tell everybody
Waitin’ for Superman
That they should try to
Hold on, best they can

He hasn’t dropped them,
Forgot them,
Or anything,
It’s just too heavy for Superman to lift”

~ The Flaming Lips

Read more »

Interactive Carbon IQ Test, and real climate change solutions

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 7th, 2009

The above ‘Carbon IQ test’ is an excellent way of exploring how much you know about the carbon cycle, and what that means for viable solutions to our climate challenge. Have a go at it before checking out the information below.

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Carbon Offsets and the value of money

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 1st, 2009

Reversion

Off the back of the comments on carbon offsetting in the two videos I have posted in the last week, I should mention that this Wednesday evening I will be on a panel discussing offsets, carbon trading and carbon rationing as part of CheatNeutral‘s spoof chat show ‘Going Neutral’ at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre.

(edit – the debate can be viewed retrospectively on my site here)

So this feels like the perfect time to take a look at the concept of voluntary carbon offsetting, the most recognised example of which is the planting of trees to ‘soak up’ our carbon emissions, thus supposedly making our net impact ‘carbon neutral’…

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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 »

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 première 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 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 »