Back to the future?
A letter from Jonathon Porritt, author, green champion and founder of Forum for the Future, introducing the BIG Green Week 2014 programme.
he way we deal with bad
news about the environment is pretty astonishing. A blaze of short-lived publicity, followed by total silence. That’s what happened most recently with the latest Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change back in April. Its account of the likely impacts of accelerating climate change on societies all around the world couldn’t really have been grimmer. The media picked it up, ran with it for a day (with the usual quota of head-in-the-sand denialism), and then promptly dropped it. Amazingly for us in the South West, they couldn’t even be bothered to make the connection with the appalling floods we had earlier in the year. Yet that’s what the big debate about ‘adapting’ to climate change is all about: even those politicians who agree that disasters of this kind are increasingly the result of man-made
climate change, they seem to think that all we need to do is to get better at adapting to it! Tell that to the hundreds of people on the Somerset Levels still profoundly affected by the floods. The truth is we just don’t know how to cope with the likely horrors of accelerating climate change. The implications are so huge, for us as individuals and for society as a whole, that we lapse back into a state of disempowered inertia. And that’s why I wrote The World We Made. Its starting point is very different, written through the words of a 50-year-old teacher looking back from 2050 to tell the story of how we got from a pretty bad place today to a pretty good place in 2050. It’s not science fiction, and it’s not some crazy utopian tract that simply ignores the harsh realities of the state of the world today. But it is very upbeat, celebrating both the astonishing power
of new technology, and the abiding resilience and determination of billions of people to help make a better world. And Bristol is one of those cities that really could turn that kind of 2050 vision into reality. The FutureBristol website reveals a number of fascinating scenarios for the city – possible futures, if you like – with a very strong emphasis on the role of individuals and communities in making good things happen. BIG Green Week 2014 will play host to an amazing array of individuals and community leaders engaged in that kind of work – providing a whole series of inspiring signposts to the kind of genuinely sustainable future that is still available to us. If we get a move on! ■