Thus far 2011 had been rather a gloomy year green-wise for me. Much conversation about sustainability party-poopers such as indestructible plastics in the ocean, out-of-control genetically engineered crops in Western Australia, runaway climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula, and collapsing fish stocks everywhere. Much as I like to focus on the positive, it wasn’t always easy to look on the bright side of eco-life.
So it was with great delight that I read an email from Cynthia Ong and my friends in Malaysia on the success of their campaign against the construction of a coal-fired power plant. The proposed site was between the Coral Triangle, an area of still relatively pristine corals, and the rainforest that is home to such critically endangered species as the orangutan, pygmy elephant, and rhinoceros.
I was delighted to be involved with their campaign (see the blog I wrote at the time), as it happily coincided with a trip to Malaysia that I had already planned. With Cynthia and her team, we speedily put together a stunt on land, air and sea, as a reminder that dirty power affects every aspect of our ecosphere.
A study had shown that it was completely possible to meet Malaysia’s burgeoning power needs from renewable sources, so the overturning of the plan represents a very welcome outbreak of common sense. Congratulations to all involved, including my friends at 350.org who first brought it to my attention. I hope that other campaigns will take heart from this important victory.
This was the first real campaign that I had been involved with (as opposed to “raising awareness” or online involvement) and it was hugely rewarding. I would highly recommend getting together with like-minded individuals to tackle a specific local issue as an antidote to the eco-blues.
A couple of nights ago I was a guest on Late Night Live, with Phillip Adams. One of the most enjoyable radio interviews I have ever done. He said that I “combine athleticism with intellect, and with idealism, which is a very rare triumvirate” – so he is evidently a man of exquisite taste and judgment. You can listen to it here. And of course, don’t forget that you can catch my weekly “Roz Roams” podcast, co-hosted by Vic Phillipson, over here.
I have just joined the board of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, an inspired concept linking people who like to go to remote places with people who need data from remote places. Everyone’s a winner! I have a few science projects of my own planned for the Indian Ocean crossing – more on that later.
Our campaign for a plastic-bag-free Olympics in London in 2012 has reached a critical stage, with the second meeting at City Hall fast approaching. This is a major opportunity not only to prevent millions of plastic bags being added to the billions already going into landfill or oceans every year, but also to launch a major public awareness campaign. Please sign our petition here!
And finally, last night as I sat lonely as a cloud in a hotel room in Sydney after a corporate speaking engagement, I treated myself to a film, “Made in Dagenham“. It tells the story of a handful of women working at a Ford plant in the UK, who in 1968 won their battle for equal pay. Amazing to think that blatant pay discrimination was taking place within my lifetime – and no doubt still is, in many parts of the world. And completely inspiring to see what can be achieved when people take a strong stand against injustice.
As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”