"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


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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Of grief

by Shaun Chamberlin on December 21st, 2012

'From fire, Redwood', by Maria Elvorith

Let me tell you a story.

It’s a story about our land – our home – and our ability to live peaceful, harmonious, respectful lives upon it and in partnership with it.

And it’s a story about the big bad political structures and corporate institutions that conspire to stop us doing so, using the unspeakable, impenetrable black magic of bureaucracy and backhanders to bind our best efforts with frustration and fatigue.

Oh, you already know that one?


Ok, then maybe you’re ready for the next chapter, about what comes after?

Fine. Sit down, make yourselves comfortable.
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Values and Propaganda

by Shaun Chamberlin on September 29th, 2010

Richard Avedon 1995

I have just spent an intrigued couple of hours musing over the outstanding new Common Cause report, which explores the battle over cultural values that underlies communications and marketing, while keeping one eye always on our environmental challenges.

The report has both stimulated a fair bit of controversy (as I will explore below the cut) and, excitingly, provided an answer to a question that has been bothering me for many years now, since reading Edward Bernays’ influential 1928 book Propaganda.

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Heroes and villains in Copenhagen, and beyond

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 5th, 2010


“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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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 »

Burn up

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 27th, 2008

Neve Campbell in Burn Up

I have just watched the BBC’s outstanding thriller Burn Up, starring Rupert Penry-Jones, Marc Warren, Bradley Whitford and Neve Campbell (trailer available here).

It is a dramatic account of the intrigue, betrayal, sex and violence surrounding characters in the oil industry, international diplomacy and the environmental movement in the build up to the international conference that will decide on the successor to the Kyoto Protocol. For those who haven’t yet seen it, be aware that the discussion below the cut contains spoilers. Read more »

Of music, movement and the meaning of life

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 11th, 2008


Those of you who know me personally will be aware that the indescribable exhilaration of physical movement to music (more commonly termed ‘dancing’) is my greatest release and joy.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been much enjoying the latest issue of Resurgence magazine, which focuses on the theme ‘Music for transformation‘.

I have learnt, to my delight, that one of the founders of quantum mechanics, Werner Heisenberg, told his students that they should see the world as made of music, not of matter (by which, as far as I understand it, he meant to emphasise that reality is process, not form).

But in particular, a section of Mark Kidel’s article Conversation & Crossroads set me tingling, and ultimately led me to consider how climate change challenges the very basis of Western thought. He writes: Read more »

Reinventing collapse

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 29th, 2008

Reinventing Collapse

As George Carlin once said, “they call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it”.

At the risk of this blog becoming ‘review corner’, that seems the perfect introduction to the book I just finished reading – Dmitry Orlov’s brilliantly enjoyable Reinventing Collapse. This is a true work of dark optimism, with a fair dash of dark humour to boot.

In it, Orlov draws on his experiences of the collapse of the Soviet Union to explore the future American residents like him are likely to face as the effects of the USA’s disastrous economic, energy and foreign policies take hold. Read more »