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Do we need more radical measures?

(13 Posts)
CanalTrip Fri 13-Oct-17 20:15:40

When we talk about climate change, the focus tends to be on renewable energy, and as important as this is, very little discussion of more radical measures takes place.

Is it time to have a national conversation about reducing energy use? About re-using rather than recycling. About changing our expectations about material possessions? And perhaps most importantly in my view, about population control?

None of these conversations will be comfortable, but if we ignore them the outcome is likely to be a great deal more uncomfortable and probably in the not too distant future.

pennycarbonara Fri 27-Oct-17 08:22:52

Of course it should have happened a long time ago. (This kind of thing seems to have actually been most popular in the 1970s, but the first big publicity about global warming and the ozone layer happened in the 80s when policies and attitude trends were very much against the sort of shift you describe.)

Partly I'm cyncical - yes, it's desperately needed and long overdue, but thinking people won't unless forced to by government policy, and not many would vote for that.

BUT something does seem to be shifting this year. It focuses on a small number of areas and can be simplistic and therefore seem almost faddish (e.g. veganism; reducing plastic usage - yet related issues like tetra-paks being harder to recycle than plastic bottles get drowned out). The sudden policy shifts towards electric cars are very interesting; they don't seem to have accounted for the resource shortages for battery production - maybe it's tacitly assumed fewer people will have cars - but more governments are evidently starting to take the idea of peak oil seriously.

I daresay what you say will happen, but again, like the above, a bit too late.

There are cultural issues too - e.g. as was discussed on some of the boards last year, a bit broad-brush, but to summarise, people from middle class backgrounds being happier to have second hand goods.
There will be a certain percentage of people who could make the shift more easily if there were campaigns and publicity, and attitude shifts, (I wonder what proportion?) but there would still be those who are collectors and hobbyists in various areas who'd still be solidly into their material stuff.

It's also difficult economically: environmentally we need degrowth, but how would you manage it politically in a realistic fashion? People don't need the quantities of, say, fast fashion clothing, or new phones that are imported every year, but as well as consumer demand there are a lot of jobs dependent on these things.

I agree about population, but whilst some changes could be possible relatively quietly (e.g. health service not refusing sterilisation to anyone who requests it), would it be possible to make it seen as better to not have kids or only have one kid, without sparking bullying towards larger families? The UN only last year added rights to have children to one of its charters - the conversation is going the wrong way there. There are lots of subtleties going on as well, the way news and government these days talk about "families" rather than "households" or "people" - things like this further cement the idea that it's the default thing for adults to do, to reproduce.

BlackeyedSusan Mon 30-Oct-17 17:11:20

yes. but it isn't going to happen anytime soon. just reading threads on mumsnet tells you that material things are still important. there was a thread recently where a significant number disagreed with the op that recycling was important and that they could not be bothered.

BlackeyedSusan Mon 30-Oct-17 17:12:18

also this board only having three threads tells you how "important" people think it is

PrincessoftheSea Mon 30-Oct-17 17:15:09

Yes but I don't think many people are that interested. Its not high up on the political agenda.

Amoregentlemanlikemanner Tue 09-Jan-18 21:28:15


hevonbu Thu 18-Jan-18 04:51:19

I wonder about this section of Mumsnet, "climate change". Not many posts in spite of climate change being such a great danger. This is puzzling. confused

Here's an interesting educational film about it:

I enjoyed this old talk too, one of the best I've seen in years:

In one way it is also interesting to live in these exciting times, to get to see with your own eyes what's going to happen....

HopelesslydevotedtoGu Tue 17-Jul-18 14:20:55

It does feel like we are tinkering around the edges but not making the kind of significant changes that are needed. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic type stuff.

My dh did some research into our carbon emissions as a family and we are pretty good, but he said the major components were things outside our individual control. e.g. food, but that could only be slightly improved by choices we could make as supermarket consumers and most was a produce of our food economy, e.g. farming and supermarket practices.

Saying that we already don't have a car, haven't flown for a while, don't eat much meat, so for your average person in the UK there is prob lots that can be done individually.

But I think to achieve a massive reduction it means that our society will need to change a lot, and many people are really really resistant to change.

Does anyone know, in countries that are already experiencing harms from climate change, are the people living making significant changes? Do we need to wait until more people are directly affected by climate change before the masses will act?

I often hear people say they are 'naughty' for doing things that are harming the environment, I think it's the wrong mindset as it trivialises it.

Is it more realistic to try and reduce energy use? Or to encourage increasing use of nuclear power which can reliably meet our current energy output and is safer than coal/ gas etc? Or stick to encouraging renewables which although fantastic will be much harder to scale up in UK to produce lots of energy esp with the objections from NIMBYs? Although I'm sure you get NIMBY with nuclear power stations once you manage to build one the energy output is massive.

In honesty I don't think people in UK and similar countries will voluntarily reduce their energy use by enough quickly enough. So my opinion is that it's better to invest in mainly nuclear but also renewable energy to reduce the harms through fossil fuels as quickly as possible. And then more gradually encourage a decrease in energy use and an increase in renewables over time. Happy to hear others ideas though.

onalongsabbatical Tue 17-Jul-18 14:28:05

My partner has been in conservation for over 50 years, has two physics degrees and runs an energy consultancy business. Important as it all is to do the best we all can, I'm afraid the science would indicate - in conjunction with what we know about how hard and slow behaviour change is (I'm a retired psychotherapist) - that it's already too late. And as it's fairly obvious that human beings do only cotton on to things when it's too late, I'd suggest buckling up for what's ahead, much of which won't be pretty. Sorry.

HopelesslydevotedtoGu Tue 17-Jul-18 14:44:46

Are there any preparations/ precautions/ decisions that you are making as a family sabbatical with this in mind?

In the UK I think we wouldn't directly experience the extreme climate events that many other areas of the world would experience (very unfairly for many of them I know) but obviously we would be affected hugely by the resultant reduced food production globally, migration, political instability.

I read a report the government produced on climate change effects on UK a few years ago and it was mainly talking about increased migration to UK, increased food prices for imports, flooding within UK and summer heatwaves in the south. Weirdly it also said that the warmer weather could increase tourism to the UK which I thought was rather missing the point!

Interested to hear yours or others thoughts.

onalongsabbatical Tue 17-Jul-18 15:11:52

Hi Hopelessly, as a grandmother to two young boys I find it heartbreaking. I don’t talk about it much except to my partner because I don’t want to be seen as despairing, but honestly I have little hope for the future. My personal preparations are psychological rather than physical, but I have begun to think some physical prepping might be timely – but it’s not my area of expertise. I’ve started to look at the prepping boards here.

But honestly how does one prepare for societal breakdown, food shortages, water shortages, disruption? I’m in my 60s now – how much will I see? I don’t know. My partner still does his work based on the assumption that there’s a point to it while thinking that there isn’t – that’s the crux isn’t it, that’s what we do as human beings, act one way while thinking something else? It’s only when pushed to the limit that stoicism becomes panic and people show what’s really underneath. I’ve long thought that any illusion of there being places of safety is just that – illusion. Yes, we may not get the worst of the weather, but if it’s bad enough that crops fail – as is already happening to some extent – if it's bad enough for water shortages, hello hosepipe bans - it’s bad enough to cause massive problems, because without enough food and water to sustain a population the decline could be fast and brutal.

I’m sorry to be such a bloody doom-monger. This is actually the first time I’ve put this ‘out there’.

HopelesslydevotedtoGu Tue 17-Jul-18 15:40:47

Thanks for your very thoughtful reply sabbatical.

I'm in my mid 30s and as a child we were very aware of global warming as it was called then, we grew up with knowledge of it, I suppose many of us thought something would be done by now, by someone. Instead although the awareness in my generation is good, we have probably been more polluting than the generations before. That's depressing. Your sentence act one way while thinking something else describes my generation very well! Everyone I know is concerned about climate change but I only know a handful who have made substantial lifestyle changes.

I waver between feeling utterly panicked about my children's future like you, and thinking (selfishly thinking about my children only here) that mass famine/ crises in the countries first affected by climate change will finally cause the most polluting countries to politically take action and avert catastrophe for countries like the UK. So for my kids and grandkids life will be very different, harder, but will continue.

Obviously I'm hoping that there will be a better outcome!

I think a lot of people have an unvoiced hope that Science will save us, there will be a scientific breakthrough which will take it all away... Obviously no actual scientists are saying this is going to happen!

Yes I think civilised societies could fall apart very quickly.

onalongsabbatical Tue 17-Jul-18 16:07:49

I ended up as a psychotherapist for many, many reasons, but one was certainly because I understood that societal change would only happen with the change of many individuals and that individual change isn’t easy. I don’t think blame is ultimately helpful either – at least not blame of ordinary people like you and me, who have limited power and can only deal with our own lives. Politicians and other powerful figures can be held to account for sticking their heads in the sand though.

It’s not selfish to think about your own children primarily, it’s natural. Never before in human history have we been confronted with a situation of so much gravity combined with such a huge amount of information, which in itself can cause overwhelm. Can I recommend a book to you if it might be your thing? This was a big influence on me – she’s an ecologist and a Buddhist and a lot more. This is the only one of hers I’ve read but she’s written more since then and it all looks on point – the last but one’s called ‘Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy’.

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