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

The secret truth behind environmentalists’ favourite argument

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 20th, 2013

Argument

When environmentalists argue amongst themselves, whether at some formal debate or late at night over a few drinks, I confidently predict that the argument will go like this.

One will say (in one form or another):
“There’s no time to wait for radical change or revolution; the crisis is overwhelmingly urgent, we simply have to act within the frameworks we have now”.

The other will argue (in one form or another):
“But there’s no point in acting without radical change or revolution; without that we are only addressing symptoms and not the real problems”.

We’ve all participated in those kinds of arguments, and we’ve all heard them a hundred times.  They become a little tiresome.  But I believe that they point towards a truth that remains unspoken.
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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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The art and music of our world’s predicament

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 3rd, 2010

Emma Wieslander, ‘Derwentwater I’, 2006

I got back from the Dark Mountain Project’s Uncivilisation festival a few days ago, and while I could write about many of the aspects of that stimulating week, one thread it really tugged on for me was the role – the critical importance – of the arts in shifting the cultural stories that shape our future.

So today I would like to highlight a few musical artists who have inspired my personal journey, and to invite you to suggest a few artists of any kind who have brought something to your engagement with the global problematique, in whatever way, and perhaps deserve a little more exposure.

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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.

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

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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 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 »

The Crash Course at Christmas

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 26th, 2008

Neoconservative stewardship

I spent a few hours this Christmas watching former Pfizer Vice President Chris Martenson’s Crash Course, which undertakes the daunting task of presenting the overarching interplay of economics, energy and environment in today’s world, and doing it in a friendly, accessible way. He does an impressive job, and it’s all broken down into easily digestible videos from 2-15 minutes long.

His simple indisputable explanations of topics such as why economic growth does not equal prosperity are invaluable, but most impressive to me was the clarity with which Chris distinguishes between his own beliefs and the facts he is sharing which have shaped those beliefs. For example, he states up front his belief that “the next twenty years are going to be completely unlike the past twenty years”, and then shows us just which facts have led him to that belief. It becomes hard to disagree. Read more »

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 »