Looking forward to what?


I tried hard, really hard, to write an upbeat and cheerful article for my ecology column in the local paper, the last of the year. But I had to admit defeat, I just could not be cheerful, even though it is Christmas. I tried to be but how on earth can I be cheerful when there is nothing cheerful to write about?

We have the energy reform bill that has just gone through the senate and has been approved by enough states for the Constitution to be amended. The President is being seen as a hero. But where in the Reform is the part about development of renewable energy? Yes, it is there, but barely noticeable. There is not even an important amount of space dedicated to the subject, it’s mentioned in passing. So we know what that means: open mining, fracking, fracking and more fracking to get at the natural gas. And what that means is that the water tables will be poisoned, the land will become useless, the trees, plants and insects will start to die and we, the human beings, will become sick. What kind of a future is that?

If you haven’t seen Gasland or read about what’s happening in the USA then you should, as you will see that what I am saying is not fantasy but fact.  And the news that the UK could be fracked in 60% of its territory is totally shocking and appalling. How can the government even begin to think about such a thing, let alone permit it to happen?  This is why I am depressed, not cheerful.

And then the ice in the Arctic has practically disappeared. The ice cap is melting so fast that everyone is amazed. And underneath the ice cap are huge reserves of methane gas, which is now escaping into the atmosphere. Methane gas is apparently even worse than carbon emissions. So no chance of reversing our situation, none at all.

The only bit of good news is the release of the Arctic 30, the brave Greenpeace volunteers who tried to demonstrate against the Russian company Gazprom and prevent their drilling for oil in the Arctic. They were imprisoned illegally for “piracy” and then “hooliganism”. In what world do those two terms justify what the Russians did to those volunteers? And how would you describe what Gazprom is doing to the Arctic? I would use these words: “death” and “destruction”.

And then I take a look at the BBC and Guardian websites and discover most of the UK under water or snow or rain, hurricane conditions, yet again. Thousands and thousands are stranded without transport, even more have no electricity and so Christmas will be pretty miserable for lots of people. How many times has the weather gone berserk in 2013? Too many times…

And I’m writing this while I have no electricity. Why? I don’t know. It’s not raining, it’s not windy, so why? I can write this on my computer with its trusty battery and then upload once the electricity returns. I am assuming it will.

I watched No, the movie, last night. It is excellent. It is about the referendum that took place in Chile in the 70s, to decide if Pinochet should be allowed to continue as President or not. The film is about the creative guy behind the No campaign, René Saavedra, and his conviction that a campaign based on the future, on what the future could hold, the freedom and happiness that could exist, if everyone voted No, would be what would sway opinion. They won in the end, it was a far from easy path to victory, and Pinochet was on a short lease to extinction, fortunately. But this film reminded me of how we were all hopeful, back in the 70s. We were at university, we believed in free love, we preached peace and love, we had a bright shining future ahead of us with endless possibilities. Now, everything has changed and our future hangs over us offering us nothing but fear of the unknown, massive and violent climatic events, inefficient electricity supplies, contaminated water coming through our taps, and politicians intent on moving us forward to destruction.

I live in a state of limbo, between warning people and alienating people. No one likes to hear the truth, because the truth is not very nice, but if people don’t understand what the situation is, then how can they hope to act in favour of renewable energy, the protection of the environment, the lowering of carbon emissions…  I wrote to two very close friends in the UK recently telling them that they are in the middle of the fracking area of Sussex and that they should join the movement to stop the fracking plan. Neither has responded. What am I supposed to think? They don’t care? They don’t want to know? They feel unable to do anything? They probably think I am a crackpot, maybe I am.

So I tell myself that it is much better to adapt to the situation rather than lose myself in despair. It’s Christmas after all. Fortunately, I take great comfort from my surroundings, still beautiful, still full of life, and the sunshine that makes everything grow and grow. I take great comfort from my friends, my family, my job, my colleagues, my books, my practice of yoga and belief in peace. Life goes on, it’s just a bit more difficult, that’s all…..


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