?You Gather? Vegan and Climate Activism (for Heroines and Heroes) #11
Hello climate heroines. Vegan heroes, what’s up?
This post is directed at some, not all of my vegan activist friends…
Okay, so I have previously classed myself as vegan. At the moment I eat 95% plant-based, with a little honey and very occasional eggs and even more occasional meat, usually in the form of fish. So right now you could call me ‘flexitarian’. I have had diverse conversations about veganism and plant-based diets with 100% hardcore vegan friends, as well as flexitarians, vegetarian and meat-eating friends. I have observed, often with horror, the kind of ‘discussions’ that go on in an often uncivilised and polarised way between vegans and non-vegans online. Particularly on Facebook, which, although many of us find it useful, is not designed to be a platform suited to diplomacy, consciousness raising and conflict resolution.
I am a climate breakdown and sixth mass extinction activist. This is why I organise with Extinction Rebellion. This is the starting place for my activism. This naturally takes me to the conclusion of eating predominantly plant-based for global sustainability reasons. Naturally I also come to the conclusion of being fundamentally against the neoliberal globalised capitalist paradigm we still inhabit, and which inhibits us.
In my view we should be aiming towards relocalised decentralised economies, tied to the land and local biocultural diversity, the true source of regenerative i.e. sustainable culture. The backbone of relocalised economies should be a predominantly de-industrialised, plant-based diet. I think this does mean more people will have to involve themselves in growing or producing food, even if just for a few hours per week. (It will be fun, you’ll get used to it). It is becoming well-known that vegan diets typically have a massively smaller carbon footprint than vegetarian and especially omnivorous diets, (the exception being fruit-only diets). Vegan diets also use significantly less land and water than meat diets, on average. (Different sources give different numbers, but at least ten times less land per pound of protein). Thus to address climate breakdown, cutting out 90% or more of meat and dairy (for most of us) is a no-brainer.
Eating predominantly plant-based for global sustainability reasons does not mean that I am immune to the suffering of animals. I very much want to end industrialised animal agriculture, including for the well-being of the animals involved. I support and empathise with direct actions performed by vegan groups at farms and slaughter-houses. They are at least alerting farmers to how times are changing, and must continue to change.
However, when considering global land use patterns, it is the destruction of entire species of wildlife that pulls at my heart-strings the most, caused by the deforestation and pesticide use associated with all industrial agriculture, not just animal agriculture. The extinction of an entire species might not get you crying like a video of mis-treated farm animals can, but I can assure you that many animals go through physical torture during the process of their entire habitat being wiped out. Not to mention the air miles involved in transporting many of our current staple and favourite foods to the UK…whether they be meat or avocadoes. Aviation drives further exploration for oil and gas, which in turn causes more destruction of habitat and deaths of animals. For instance, see this report from the WWF: https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/oil-and-gas-development
I know there are a lot of very sensitive people amongst vegans. I have met many of them, indeed to an extent I am one of them. Sensitivity is a good thing. I understand why this sensitivity is expressed as anger towards meat-eaters, by some vegans. And I am not someone who takes the suffering of animals lightly. When I discover a fly trapped in my home, I am anxious for its release, and I have previously risked being stung by hornets in order to carefully guide them to freedom. Choosing not to own a motor vehicle is partly motivated by my desire to minimise my impact upon the planet’s wildlife.
My business Epic Tomorrows is motivated fundamentally by compassion. For human beings and towards all life on Earth, from the bacteria which live in my gut, to the whales which swim in the ocean. My current commitment within Epic Tomorrows, as a climate and mass extinction activist, and a flexitarian (at the moment) is to commit to collating, curating and cross-referencing useful web addresses for activists. I’m listing them in a suite of spreadsheets which I’m calling the Well Gathered Workbook.
I have put countless hours into building this product already. I will put in many more ahead of the launch on 24th April. I will be selling only 30 copies at the introductory price of six squids (hopefully six squid or other life forms are not implicated i.e. killed every time a monetary transaction is made somewhere on Earth). After the first 30 copies I will take it off the shelf for a little while. I want to engage with the first 30 (could that be you?) on a deep level to get feedback and find out if there are other ways I can help you individually, (at no charge).
But before I continue to build this product, I just need to get the following out of my system, hopefully in a sensitive way which could trigger bridge-building debate, rather than Facebook point-scoring and Twitter slanging matches. I will admit, the title of this post is deliberately provocative, to alert more people to my post -a marketing tactic, although I did tone ‘annoying’ down to ‘irritating’. On the other hand I have been put out and frustrated by some, not all, of my vegan activist friends who have been subject to some of the attitudes listed below:
10 most irritating attitudes amongst my vegan activist friends, (okay, so I call these ‘attitides’ but some of them are beliefs, assumptions or areas of ignorance):
1) ‘Going vegan will save the planet’. This belief is complacent and wrong, and in my experience seems to come from a place of narcissism amongst some vegan activists, rather than genuine concern about, or research into, sustainable global land use and C02 emissions. See this article from New Internationalist for more details https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2018/06/06/vegan-climate-carbon
Going vegan will certainly HELP save the planet -it’s a big part of why I’m mostly plant-based myself. Yet, if we all went vegan tomorrow -which would be disastrous in terms of the multi-species deaths that are associated with too sudden a system change- C02 emissions in other industries could still easily take us beyond climate tipping points within a couple of decades. (This is related to my point above about food air miles and new fossil fuel exploration). Direct action (non-violent) against governments, and possibly corporations, is the only response to this. So, cut out meat and dairy consumption, sure, but that’s not good enough.
2) ‘Animal farmers are all evil / bad / insensitive people.’ This is a ridiculous assertion to make. For those of you who have seen Cowspiracy (despite its factual inaccuracies), do you remember the former rancher -turned activist Howard Lyman? A truly inspirational figure, to be sure, but do you think he is in isolation? What do you know about where farmers are in their personal journeys and livelihoods? Have you thought that some farmers may not be happy in their jobs, that they were born into farming families, and find it very difficult to find other suitable employment options in rural areas? As most vegans live in urban areas, this is something you may not have considered. Even the ones who are happy in their jobs are, believe it or not, capable of compassion towards their animals, even within what could be called, the culturally accepted context of genocide and betrayal that is industrialised agriculture.
There are other contexts which could qualify as culturally accepted genocide / ecocide, such as abortion and levelling land to build houses, but I certainly wouldn’t label these pregnant mothers and builders as ‘bad’. Yes, I’m being controversial -a woman’s body should not be directly equated with a farm, but do you see what I’m getting at? Black and white thinking is just not good enough when it comes to global climate justice.
3) ‘Eating plant-based works for everyone’. It doesn’t. A small minority of people have health conditions which have been cured by eating a meat-based diet. Best leave them be.
4) ‘My vegan dietary and lifestyle choices can be exported to any part of the world / my vegan dietary and lifestyle choices do not have an impact on the dietary and lifestyle choices of people in other parts of the world’. In my experience, this isn’t a consciously held belief of many vegan activists -it’s just an area of ignorance that they haven’t dealt with, because ‘they don’t know they don’t know’. This article from ‘NOW’ magazine (Toronto) does a good job explaining, although perhaps in a more spiky and confrontational way than I would choose: https://nowtoronto.com/news/vegans-climate-change/
However I would also make the additional more subtle point that modern affluent lifestyles in the global north reduce dietary and lifestyle options for the poor in the global south, and that includes specifically vegan consumption patterns in northern countries which perpetuate oppressive global infrastructures, including fossil-fuel-based, just as much as meat-based consumption patterns do. Only a ‘systems thinking’ approach to Earth and human society can save us now. We must not be isolationist in our thinking, which brings me to my next point…
5) ‘Permaculture? What’s that?’ Permaculture recognises the integrated role that sensitive animal husbandry can play in Regenerative Agriculture and rewilding (bringing back many species from the brink of extinction) -true for modern as well as pre-industrial societies. This doesn’t mean that these practices have to be used, but it is important to be aware of them (before wading into discussions wearing potentially oil-derived sized nines). The most excellent and revolutionary Maddy Harland explains things well here in this article from way back in 2014, which champions veganism in Permaculture: https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/veganism-and-permaculture
6) ‘My nine cats are not having an impact on the planet’ (substitute with preferred pets). This doesn’t actually apply to anyone I know, but I have encountered some vegans on the dreaded (but currently necessary) Facebook who seem to take the simplistic view that it doesn’t matter how many pets are propagated on the planet, as long as they are being cuddled and cared for and posted on Insta. I have known dogs weaned onto vegetarian diets, and I understand that veganism can work for some dogs too, but that’s not true of cats.
Additionally, whatever the pet, please consider that there is already an unsustainable number of humans on the planet, without any of those humans having pets too, with all the land use implicated in keeping those pets, even on vegan and vegetarian diets. It all adds up. Could we just stick to rescue pets, otherwise an absolute maximum of two large pets per household (cats, dogs, giraffes etc)? That would really help improve the greenhouse gas emissions scenario. Below is some information on the C02 impact of keeping pets in America from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The study is two years old but I doubt things have changed much in Trump’s America. Most of these pet owners won’t be vegan but they will nevertheless be contributing to a culture of excessive pet-keeping which vegans are not immune to: https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/the-truth-about-cats-and-dogs-environmental-impact
7) ‘Some lives are more important than others’. Again, this doesn’t seem to be a conscious attitude amongst any vegan activists that I know of, but an unconscious one, or a type of ignorance. It’s not helped by the media and marketing industries which have tended to use pictures of cuddly animals to signal content about veganism and / or attract people to the vegan cause. It’s the same easy option that conservation organisations use to encourage protection of (some) endangered species. I am not wholesale against ALL such marketing techniques, but when they contribute to a culture of ignorance about the importance of biodiversity and ALL life-forms in maintaining the complex inter-connected web of life which supports us and makes for the Earth’s rich tapestry, then, well…
Ironically some vegans may have fallen prey here to the farming industry’s portrayal of cartoon and cuddly farm animals over the years, at the expense of native British wildlife. This is not to ignore the great efforts of my vegan activist friends on badger culling sabs and hunt sabs, which I fully support.
‘Cuddly speciesism’ can compound and be compounded by attitudes 6) above and 8) below in particular. Have you ever found buzzards poisoned and dumped by the side of the road? I have. It makes me cry.
8) ‘If my food and clothes and other products I use are plant-based, I’m having a benign effect on the planet’. It is complacent and dangerous to think like this. This is an extension of points I have already made above, especially 1) but let me summarise it like this: If we drive motor vehicles, we are implicit in ecocide. As long as our food is flown to us, we are implicit in ecocide. As long as we propagate the neoliberal capitalist ‘paradigm’, ‘Business As Usual’, (or as I call it ‘Same Old Story’ in The Evidence), we are implicit in ecocide. Make ecocide law.
9) ‘I shouldn’t / won’t be friends with meat eaters, at least not on Facebook’. It’s up to you, but this attitude frustrates me because it is clearly unstrategic. If you want to convert the world to veganism, surely you can’t take an isolationist stance? If you want a compassionate world, should you not demonstrate compassion, even to those who don’t, even to your ‘enemies’? If you are genuinely so sensitive that talking to meat-eaters upsets you, then cool, but if you are coming from a place of hatred -not so cool.
10) ‘Vegans are the best’. You’re alright, okay? And so am I, when I’m vegan and when I’m not.
Now, after all that, I hope you will all come and give me a plant-based hug. I mean it, no hard feelings. I’m trying to build a stronger movement here, against climate breakdown and the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth.
Also see this excellent post by my friend L. J. Stirling, The Moral Limitations of Being Vegan.
Here is my Rebel listening track for this week (a bit different from last time’s Bach). This is the kind of music I use to wake me up in the morning, before I get to work. When I listen to the lyrics, ‘I follow you, deep sea baby’ it conjures an image of a blue whale.
Please like, comment, share or slam!
PHOTO BY GILLTUKHA/ISTOCK
Hello lovelies. Heroines, heroes, peaceful direct activists! Climate heroines, vegan heroes, rebels for Life.
I have finished the key entries in the first spreadsheet of my Well Gathered workbook which will be on sale in one month’s time. The first spreadsheet is a curated list of climate science and climate news websites. Here are the best of them:
HOT LINKS!: AGW Observer Carbon Capture Report Climate Action Tracker Climate Bites ClimateChange.net Climate Feedback Climate Science Watch Climate Sight Global Snow Lab Grist Historical Climatology Inside Climate News IPCC NASA Paul Gilding Polar Research RealClimate The Daily Climate The Science of Doom Yale Climate Connections
And here is my guidance on how to use this particular spreadsheet within the workbook:
- THE PARIS NARRATIVE: The IPCC is a useful scientific body as a starting point for the interpretation of climate-related data. Their best-case target of a 1.5C limit to warming is sound. However their scenarios and literature downplay the fact that 3 degrees of warming (AGW) above pre-industrial levels (1750) is already baked in to the Earth System (barring an industrial miracle -see below), although it hasn’t fully unfolded yet. See the excellent Extinction Rebellion talk, ‘Heading for Extinction and what to do about it’. Thus all IPCC 1.5-2C scenarios and recommended pathways for governments rely on global-scale, unproven carbon reduction technologies (technologies that take CO2 out of the atmosphere). This unprecedented technological revolution, requiring unprecedented global co-operation, would need to happen within the next ten years, and there are no signs whatsoever of it happening… It is this narrative of ‘mass carbon reduction’ that defined the non-binding inter-governmental Paris Agreement of 2015. According to the ‘Paris Narrative’, all carbon dioxide emissions reductions pathways towards 1.5-2C rely on the science fiction of this massive and expensive industrial revolution. Beware the Paris Narrative!
- ACTION NOTES or HOW TO USE THIS SHEET FOR EPIC HEROINE & HERO ACTIVISTS!: For insight on how climate activism strategy relates to the wider Epic Tomorrows theory and strategy, please visit The Evidence. Use this sheet in the following ways. A) Nip your doubts in the buds, and calmly shoot your foes down in verbal flames. (See DENIAL BUSTERS sites in the spreadsheet) B) Get your facts straight, when talking to the media and engaging in NVDA / mass civil disobedience. C) Arm yourself for peaceful war with the knowledge in this spreadsheet. Your life quest to save all life on Earth depends on it. Do not overburden yourself with excessive knowledge. Choose your sites. Limit yourself. Less is more. Start with LINKS ON FIRE! Connect with others. Join Extinction Rebellion and associated movements. Eat less meat.
To get a FREE copy of this first spreadsheet in the workbook, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s rebel listening isn’t hip-hop or dance music. For a nice change I have been listening to some baroque music, particularly Bach’s six unaccompanied cello suites. Very relaxing to have on whilst working. And as Yo Yo Ma says, Bach was very clever at composing in a way where the listener’s ear is used to complete musical phrases…notes are suggested as well as played, allowing the single cello to sound like more than just a single cello. Bach may have been very privileged, but to me his music sounds rebellious.
This relates to how it has felt with me on my internet searches of climate science -related websites and from today, climate activism sites. I feel like I am just on the edge of discovering melodies and harmonies in activism and in representations of climate science. This place of undiscovery or nearly-discovery feels like a very fertile place from which to direct my web searches. I am using this intuition, combined with some logic, to direct my searches. I know that some of you, the people I am meant to reach, will benefit from the results.
Heroines and heroes, radical climate and vegan activists and others, things are really coming to a head. In the positive sweep of global history, we are reaching a pivotal moment. Either we evolve to the next level, as a species, or we go down in flames (or possibly a mixture, depending on our location). Everything is to play for, and we need appeal only to the highest virtues and traits, deities and questers. Today I appeal to Athena, Ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration and strategy, amongst other things.
I am only a little embarrassed to report that after a meeting with my ‘work coach’ at the government job centre the other day, I am now bound to provide evidence of business sales at my next appointment on 29th April, meaning I have to move my launch date (again!) forward to 22nd April. During that launch week I need to make sales. This means I have to step back from XR afterall. It means I can’t be directly involved in the International Rebellion in London mid-April.
You may think I am involved in some Climate / Extinction denialism, to think like this. Quite the opposite. My personal view is that Extinction Rebellion will achieve great things this April, but not (yet) the stated aim of a national citizens’ assembly to work alongside the government to deal with the ecological crisis. I did want to be directly involved anyhow, but heigh-ho.
You may ask, how can I be a capitalist (a business person, an entrepreneur) when I know that neoliberal capitalism is responsible for the sixth mass extinction event, including climate breakdown, as well as entrenched social injustice within the human species?
For me it’s simple: I want peace. For someone who wants peace, and has studied (a little) the inevitable decline of global capitalism and the inevitable relocalisation of culture, a period of managed decline, including ‘Transition capitalism’ or what I call ‘ecopreneurial Descent economics’ (eDe) is needed to help mitigate the chaos and social unrest that always occurs between civilisational epochs. More on this another time, but essentially what I advocate for is a decade of private enterprise, the main purpose being to further global activism for system change (the end of capitalism), by dismantling large corporations and redistributing wealth. The way this private enterprise is conducted is just as important as the end goal of redistributing profit and using it to break up corporations. By ‘the way it is conducted’ I mean, what the substance of the business is (what is being sold) as well as how the business is resourced, owned, staffed, and directed. The business must play a clear and sustainable role in global system change, and have obsolescence designed into it (a planned disintegration phase as we move into the next post-capitalist stage of global civilisation).
My first product is the Well Gathered workbook -spreadsheets of useful websites for activists. In other words, curated lists. They include cross-referencing and suggestions for how to use the information. The information will always be free to those who can’t afford to pay.
It is absolutely vital that as activists in an over-complex world of competing forms and articles of knowledge, we build up a coherent picture of what is going on in the world, in order to act from a place of reasonable certainty. Ignorance holds us back, and it is only by being aware of the shifting whole, that we allow the whole to evolve to heal. This is a principle of Gestalt Therapy. What we deny (in ourselves, and on Earth) will sabotage our efforts at global transformation.
The serious stuff: if you want a free copy of the first sheet in the Well Gathered workbook, contact me. The first sheet is a curated list of climate science and climate news sites. I would like your views on it. How can I improve on it? If you help me out, you will get a free copy of the final product, and free product updates for life. Email address at the bottom of the post.
In my attempt to keep things light, I’m integrating my love of music into Epic Tomorrows. (Because activism should have a great soundtrack!). I finally interviewed Queen Left the other day. It was a really great interview, and you can listen to it on the Epic Tomorrows Soundcloud channel. Please skip through the first ten minutes of silence and mumbling (whoops!) I haven’t worked out how to edit it yet.
So tell me what you think of Queen Left.
This brings us to my recommended Rebel listening for this week. ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ by Queen Latifah, because Q.L. likes this track as much as I do, and because it’s partly where Q.L. got her name from.
By Queen Latifah and Athena, I strive onwards!
As always, feel free to comment or contact me with your vegan and climate activist dilemmas on email@example.com. Also email me to get your free spreadsheet of climate science and climate news websites, with some suggestions on how to use the info. (The vegan sites will be coming soon.) I am doing my best to find answers for you. Also feel free to sign up to my posts by email, by clicking the button in the Epic Tomorrows sidebar. Finally, if you would like to order your copy of the Well Gathered workbook, let me know. Thanks.
#devonindies #devonindiecreator #supportindiecreators
‘!Hello you lovely activists, you heroines and heroes! Today’s post is dedicated to Medea, the sorceress who was the true power behind Jason of the Argonauts, the woman who enabled him to plough a field with fire-breathing oxen, defeat a band of skeleton warriors and the dragon that protected the golden fleece. In the original myth, Medea was not scorned by Jason, and so did not poison him. And they all lived happily for a while…!
Okay, it’s all about the climate this week folk…It’s been just over two weeks since my last post. I’ve been struggling with my own skeletal adversaries, and don’t even ask me about that slumbering dragon -I’m not ready for that!
I was due to interview the political rapper Queen Left last night. She was stuck in traffic in her home city of Atlanta, Georgia, USA and I was tired, so we postponed. But having the very human email exchange that we had has only given me more enthusiasm for the upcoming interview. Respecting these postponements, these flows of life…
I’ve been playing some more games with time recently. A few days ago I had a message from my solicitor to say that Devon and Cornwall Counter Terrorism Unit had gotten back in touch with her. I had instructed her to hold fire when they last contacted her, to see how long it would take them to chase it up. She was keeping my written response ready to send. They wanted to talk to me about a blog post I wrote for the Extinction Rebellion blog, where I mentioned that I would probably get myself arrested again in April, non-violently in the streets of London along with many other XR rebels. The CTU are attempting to scare me a little it seems, or make an example of me. But they are only responding to me making an example of myself. 🙂 A message for the police and the CTU (if you are watching me even here on my own blog) and I mean this kindly: We’re going to win chaps, one way or another, so give up now. If you have children and you want their future safety assured, take off your uniforms and join XR. And please do carry on reading to learn something about climate science.
I’m almost done with trawling through climate science websites! Literally and emotionally! I hope I’ve saved you heroines and heroes some time though. After extensive searching over several weeks I’ve dismissed the most deceptive and misleading of so-called ‘climate sceptics’ / deniers’ arguments over ‘hockey stick’ tree-ring proxy data, the related ‘Climategate’ and other controversies. I’ve discovered how massive, fragmented and often profligate the nature of modern knowledge is, and how hard it is for any of us, including us activists, to have an accurate overview of the truth of what is going on in the world in one small subject area at any given time, let alone to try to maintain an overview from week to week as data and conclusions grow and shift.
The area of climate science is no different, despite the urgent imperative that we respond coherently to climate breakdown as a species. In my online search I have also been reminded of how our egotistical tendencies, natural desires for social recognition and a secure knowledge of the universe and our place in it, give rise to bias and an unwillingness to maintain an openness to complex, ever-changing data and the variety of conclusions that can be drawn from them. It takes a certain kind of intellectual rigour and moral courage to be able to continually occupy a place of ‘I’m not really sure’, rather than identifying with a clear position of ‘believer’ or ‘denier’. It’s nice to see initiatives like Berkeley Earth which was set up in 2010 to scientifically deal with the valid concerns of so-called ‘climate sceptics’. Reassuringly for some of us, the first Berkeley report of 2012 concluded that the concerns of the sceptics were ultimately unfounded -though it took a fair bit of rigourous investigation to reach that point.
Without the openness of initiatives like Berkeley, we give so-called ‘climate change deniers’ -or alternatively, anyone with an outlying opinion on climate science at either end of the spectrum- too much power by not engaging with them properly and reasonably, and I might add, with compassion for their insecurity -an insecurity that we all feel.
As I think is implied by The Science of Doom, although it is not always useful to polarise people between anthropogenic climate change ‘believers’ on one side and ‘deniers’ on the other, it is sometimes a convenient and almost unavoidable way to frame the debate. But we must understand that there is a diversity of debate between the extreme positions of claiming to ‘prove’ that climate change is not predominantly human-caused, and claiming to ‘prove’ that humanity will all but have disappeared from the face of the Earth in under five years from now.
The truth is somewhere inbetween. Yes, of course the warming in recent decades is predominantly human in origin. But predicting the future is notoriously difficult. Nevertheless, after my extensive online search of climate science / news sites for the Well Gathered workbook I can confidently say that there is a reasonable likelihood of civilisational collapse before the end of the century as a result of climate breakdown, unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mainly CO2) to near zero by around 2030 -not 2050 as the IPCC suggests. Ideally we should be looking at 2025. With a war-time effort it is possible. For the sake of my nieces and nephews, it is a no-brainer: the precautionary principle simply must be used here -human civilisation, perhaps even human survival (beyond a few thousand breeding pairs anyway) is at stake.
Okay, so this week’s rebel listening is a clear choice. Keith Flint, prodigy frontman, died just a few days ago. No I’m not going to link to an article on his untimely death. Suffice to say that I’ve had The Prodigy playing many a time during intensive work periods for Epic Tomorrows.
So feel free to sign up to my posts by email, by clicking the button in the Epic Tomorrows sidebar. And if you would like to order your copy of the Well Gathered workbook, let me know. Cheers ~
#devonindies #devonindiecreator #supportindiecreators
!Hello all you heroines and heroes, tragic characters all. We live in tragic times. Tragic times require heroic responses.
The Well Gathered Workbook is coming along. I’ve done plenty of work on the Climate Science & News spreadsheet this week. I’m rating tens of climate science and climate news sites -the most useful ones I’ve denoted ‘Hot!’ and the super-useful ones I’ve denoted ‘On Fire!’ I’ve also labelled which sites I think are the most useful for tweens and teens to start with, and Earth knows we need our youth to take a keen interest in climate science, starting now. The listed ‘On Fire’ sites so far are https://climatecrocks.com/, http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/, https://www.desmogblog.com/, https://skepticalscience.com/, and https://climatesight.org/. This last one is the personal blog of UK-based climate scientist Dr Kaitlin Naughten -an Antarctic specialist who started blogging when she was sixteen. Very inspiring for girls who are into science and want to pursue it further.
Yesterday, on Thursday 21st February 2019 -although already it feels like a week ago- Devon County Council declared a ‘climate emergency’. However they failed to set a zero carbon target date. A 2030 date was proposed by a Green councillor and was accepted by the left-wing third of the council, but predictably the Tory majority voted against it. The motion for climate emergency was passed with no date ostensibly, but it was after the ramblings of an old Tory who referred to the IPCC 2050 zero carbon target as a reasonable target (which it isn’t, relying as it does on unproven, undeveloped atmospheric carbon capture technologies). I knew that the failure to adopt the 2030 motion was partly due to entrenched livestock farming interests in Devon which would make the necessary land-use changes very difficult.
This decision came after many impassioned speeches from the public gallery, including from friends of mine, urging the council to act on the global emergency. Exeter students spoke, and a young girl spoke, daughter of a friend, telling the adults that they have had their time to get fat off the land, but now they must pay for it.
I sat in the public gallery and listened to the whole debate. This was after sitting through hours of other County Council matters. Outside County Hall it was a great atmosphere of festivities and resistance, on a warm and bright February day. Colourful Extinction Rebellion banners, as well as anti-Brexit banners, abounded. Students and children were everywhere. Some young girls, head high to my waste, proudly proclaimed to my friend that they were members of Extinction Rebellion. They held their signs of Nature and resistance. It was moving. Meanwhile, the cops trained their cameras on me. No surprise there. I joked with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a while that the police were probably making all kinds of fantastical links between us that didn’t exist.
Earlier I had enjoyed a tense pause as I waited for my friends in Magdalene Street cafe in Exeter -where some but not all of their cakes are vegan.
Inside the public gallery it was stifling. I removed my coat and my funereal shirt underneath focused my attention on the action that could be immanent. I fingered the personal attack alarm in my pocket nervously, and pinned on my XR patch, following the lead of my buddy next to me. If the council voted for 2050 we were to jump over the barrier separating the public gallery from the floor, and storm to the front of the building, locking on to each other with arms and legs.
It didn’t happen. Some of us were deflated, but we had stuck to our plan of no action for no zero carbon date.
After huddling round with the others in a circle on the grass outside, the debrief and the grief, the anger and resolve, I turned on my heels and walked back to the bus-stop a little darker, a little more determined, a little more free than before.
Today’s rebel music track (for the tragically heroic) is Put The Message In The Box by World Party. They would have changed the lyrics to ‘Put the box onto the bike…’ had they known…
As always, feel free to comment or contact me with your vegan and climate activist dilemmas on firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do my best to find the answers for you. Also feel free to sign up to my posts by email, by clicking the button in the Epic Tomorrows sidebar. Finally, if you would like to order your copy of the Well Gathered Workbook, let me know. Thanks.
Happy New Year? Maybe. How was your festive period? Mine was very low key. Time for me to reflect, read books, do some writing, and finish the first version of my business plan for Epic Tomorrows, which was finally signed off by my government-employed business adviser yesterday (the 28th). Funnily enough, the British government are funding me to develop informational resources which challenge the British government. Email me at email@example.com if it would be useful for you to have a copy of the plan. Especially if you are vegan or a climate activist. 2019 is a great year to start a business themed around veganism or climate activism. My own flagship business product is explained here.
I’ve also been enjoying continuing my work for Extinction Rebellion (XR) albeit in a more relaxed and sparse way than I have been in recent months. We have a good regenerative culture building within XR, e.g. we encourage each other to take time out and recuperate. I have been enjoying reading about the recent XR BBC blockade action in London. I couldn’t be there myself, but I did take part in the now infamous November 2018 bridge blocks, at which I was arrested. It’s amazing how XR have managed to create atmospheres around their actions which are both edgy, facilitating non-violent direct actions which end in arrests, and also family friendly, often with children contributing to the debate on the microphones. I put this down to the discipline of non-violence which prevails, drawing on the traditions of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
I hope that those of you who are non-vegan but are considering a more plant-based diet will try out ‘Veganuary’ i.e. going vegan for the whole of January. This simple exercise in self-restraint is itself a type of activism and has value on many different levels, from the personal and political to the commercial and environmental. Here’s a website to help you do it.
When it comes to vegan educational resources and campaigns, Viva! are one the forefront organisations (in case you didn’t know).
If you really want to go for it with climate activism in 2019, we are in such a dire emergency now that I would advise you join one of the more radical climate activist groups that have formed in the past two years. For the UK, a good bet is XR. Internationally there are also the options of ‘By 2020 We Rise Up’, ‘This Is Zero Hour’ and ‘We Don’t Have Time’. There are many more resources for vegans and activists which I will be gathering together all in one place in my Well Gathered spreadsheet.
I’m a romantic person, and you could say I have quite a romantic idea of what could happen in 2019 for vegan and climate activists, and hence for the whole of society. We really are in the cow-shit when it comes to climate breakdown and ecological collapse, and unfortunately our short-sighted democracies are just not equipped to take the radical and far-reaching economic, technological and social restructuring measures required. These measures are required to avert an otherwise likely global temperature rise of 4 degrees by the end of the century, a 4 degrees which some scientists and complex systems theorists say is ‘incompatable’ with organised human civilisation as we know it. Does that scare you? It should do! Look here for some good science.
My ‘romantic’ vision is one of massive planetary change, but I dare not go into too much detail here, because all our visions are different, and we need a shared vision of change, for any significant change to happen.
Speaking of romance, I hereby make a call-out to lovely, polyamorous, vegan, climate activist entrepreneur women to even notice me in 2019 and ask me out on a date 🙂 Or if I’m being too fussy, vegetarian, climate activist, polyamorous, and female would be okay. And lovely. I live in the southwest of England. Near Exeter. And sometimes Bristol. Maybe near you sometimes. If you want.
As always everyone, please get in touch with any of your vegan activist and / or climate activist dilemmas. If you are seeking information or advice you can’t find, maybe I can help you (for free I mean). Respond to this post or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a voice recording (that would be extra nice, audio content is more human).
To hear my vocal rendering of the spirit of this post, visit Epic Tomorrows on Soundcloud.