Tag Archives: climatechange

One step (or stone) at a time

Part of the Operation Noah day activities on the 5th July included a taize service (what’s that, I hear you ask) which was very moving and turned out to be very symbolic of the challenge that we will face in trying to address our carbon foot-print as a community.

As one element of the service, we worked together to move a pile of pebbles from the larger x10 footprint (which Ruth and Josh had used at the school assemblies with the children) to the smaller x1 footprint; but there weren’t really any “rules” and all of this whilst singing the taize as well.

– The first hurdle was “who to start ?”. Well, at least that wasn’t too hard with having Ruth within our community.

– The biggest hurdle was “who to go second ?”; where we all metaphorically looked at each other (and wondered if we were going round in the circle or not). I have forgotten who “broke the mould” but then we fairly easily got into a pattern of moving one stone each from the big footprint to the little one.

– The next hurdle was “well actually, an individual can move more than one stone at a time” and we fairly easily got into a pattern of people moving two or three stones at a time.

– However, the collective realisation dawned, now that we had started the task, that the pile of stones really wasn’t getting moved very quickly (and that we would be singing the taize forever!) and that actually we needed some rather big actions if we were going to finish at a reasonable time. So, the second biggest hurdle was for someone to take a really big handful of stones from one pile to the other.

– Finally, there was one stone left and then one of the younger members of the congregation taking part stepped forward and moved the final stone.

The symbolism here was strong at each stage in the process to the task that we face in Hartley Wintney about thinking about and doing something about our carbon footprint, as we have so clearly been asked to by the children of the village.

– The first steps are always hard. It will be hard to get our community moving and taking action. Breaking the barrier of “why should I go first” is actually pretty strong. There is always something else to be doing in our busy lives. However, a momentum builds up, once you can get things started.

– We are bound to find that the first steps were good to get us going and build up our confidence, but not sufficient to achieve our ends. Again, we will need to work together and it will seem strange “breaking the mould” again and doing things that will really make a difference. At this stage people will need lots of support and encouragement, but these really big actions will also be required for the enormity of the challenge that we face.

– I felt it was significant that the youngest member of the congregation moved the final stone, because our actions today will effect the world that we leave behind for our children and their children.

All in all, it was very thought-provoking … … …

Meeting my MP for the first time

Children of Hartley Wintney present their fabric petition on climate change to their MP

Children of Hartley Wintney present their fabric petition on climate change to their MP

Friday was the first time that I’ve met my own MP ! The occasion was that the primary school children of the Hampshire village, Hartley Wintney, were unfurling a giant petition for their local MP James Arbuthnot, calling on the Government to protect their future. The petition calls on the Government to cut the UK’s carbon footprints by 90%. This was the start of a community climate change weekend event called Operation Noah Day and I’ll try and post more about how it went soon ….

The petition – made of recycled bed sheets – was taken by Ruth Jarman, chair of the Hartley Wintney Operation Noah Group, to all four primary schools in the area and collected hundreds of brightly coloured signatures. Children also received an Operation Noah Day leaflet with five suggestions for all village parents to “Change the way you live because of who you love”. Supporting her was St. John’s Church Careforce volunteer, Josh Parmar.

The wording of the children’s giant petition is “To the UK Government from the community of Hartley Wintney and Dogmersfield. We want to cut our carbon footprint from this (large footprint) to this (10x smaller footprint). We will do our part. We need you to do yours”.

The power of unreasonable people

The definate highlight of the Innovation Edge conference, hosted by NESTA at the Royal Festival Hall yesterday, was Sir Bob Geldof. The whole theme of the morning was about hearing from people who have actually changed the world. Sir Bob was preceeded by Tim Berners-Lee – who else could casually say “I invented the worldwide web because ….”.

I can’t resist a few sound-bites from Sir Bob (or George Bernard-Shaw):
– “Never under-estimate the power of unreasonable people … they have a restlessness to change the world”
– “Every idea has its time, a perfect syncronicity with their need at a moment in time”
– “Everything is running out: water, oil, time, …”; and of course:
– “Poverty is shit” .

Bob Geldof has enough on his plate with solving poverty and I was left thinking who is our champion for actually doing something about climate change and facing upto the fact that, not only is the transport sector the largest end-use category of emissions in the UK, but also it contibutes the most significant increase in our carbon foot-print year-on-year. Eddington predicts twice as many cars on our roads by 2050, Stern says that we need to reduce our carbon foot-print by 60-80%. “Do the math” as the Americans would say … How are we going to sort out this fine mess?

P.S.> I should have mentioned that the Prime Minister was there as well, so atleast there is is some top-cover for the innovation agenda in Government circles.