As we slide into a recession, one or two commentators such as George Monbiot have been doing us a service by reminding us that the credit crunch is trivial compared to what is potentially facing us in terms of a climate crunch.
In August I highlighted a report from the New Economics Foundation which stated that we had just 100 months to avert rising temperatures and runaway climate change - 98 months now! There is an increasing sense of urgency about our need to do something about this, and the recent pledge by the government to make an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is encouraging. Problem is, they have a lousy track record of delivery on such pledges - they are too wedded to big business and consumption.
In any case, we can't make big enough cuts unless everyone is involved - and that means you! And yes it means insulating your house, using low energy light bulbs, turning the central heating down, putting a jumper on, car sharing, dusting off your bike lights and cycling to work if you can. You have heard it all before but now is the time to get on with doing it and encouraging other in your local community to do so also.
I am working with a nearby local action group and trying to set up a group in the village I live in. In Cheshire, we have the example of Ashton Hayes, which aims to be the first village in England to become carbon neutral. Since starting in January 2006 they have cut their carbon emissions by 21%. You can get help in doing this from the Low Carbon Communities Network. If you have a local group - get involved. I have only just started but I'll keep you informed of progress. So far I have contacted the Parish Council and will speak at their next meeting to try and get their support. I've put a poster on the village notice board, and have an article coming out in next weeks local paper.
But this isn't just about climate change. Also of great significance is Peak Oil. Its worth quoting the definition from Wikipedia:
Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline.
There is some disagreement about when peak oil occurred. Some people say 2007 others as long ago as 2005. But there is a consensus that we have passed peak oil. Just think for a moment what this means - a world without oil means massive changes in the way we live and there is no substitute, no magic technological fix on offer. We are going to go through what is known as an energy descent. And it is going to happen in our lifetimes. We are going to have to get used to living in a lower energy environment. And that means making the same kind of adjustments we would have to make for climate change anyway.
So, the local group I am trying to set up is not just about climate change because climate change adjustments to our lifestyle and peak oil adjustments go hand in hand. If you want to find out more I suggest you take a look at what Caroline Lucas had to say about the Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins.
We need to see theses changes as an opportunity rather than a threat. An opportunity to connect with our neighbours and build sustainable communities, communities free from the destructive excesses of free market capitalism,