You can’t have your planet, and eat it

Earlier this week a geography teacher told me how a student had to be permanently excused from classes on climate change, because they found the resulting anxiety too overwhelming. And that students are disengaging from politics because they don’t see politicians taking action on the issues that profoundly affect their future.

I wonder how that eco-anxious student is feeling today, with the news that Labour have junked their big, bold, green investment plan because “their commitment to economic credibility is more important”.

Right next to the BBC headline about Labour’s environmental backdown was the headline that global warming has exceeded 1.5C across an entire year for the first time (see right). The juxtaposition is painful, infuriating, tragic.

The BBC reports that, “It is expected Labour will argue that they have to focus on being seen as responsible stewards of the economy, rather than committing to a spending pledge that opponents regard as reckless.”

How about being responsible stewards of the planet? Of biodiversity? Of the wellbeing of future generations? Where is the political and moral courage to do the right thing?

How can we possibly restore young people’s faith in politics if the party most likely to be forming the next government is willing to throw the planet under the bus purely in order to win power?

Here is a slide I sometimes use in presentations.

Under the current economic model, the incentive is to extract from, and pollute into nature as much as possible. And somewhere along the way, the relationship between the economy and humanity flipped – it was meant to serve us, but many of us now feel that we exist to serve it.

The current economic model is producing disastrous results, so we need to redesign the model. It won’t be easy, but if we can put people on the moon and create AIs that threaten to be more intelligent than we are, I’m sure we can do it. We need to put the economy back in service of humanity, and remember that all of this is dependent on our natural world.

If the economy isn’t working, we have to redesign the economy. Because we can’t redesign nature. 

My conversation with the geography teacher made me ask myself – what can I, personally, do to help restore young people’s faith in politics?

Here’s what I will do.

I will listen to young people and be a standard-bearer for their views, while supporting them when they speak up for themselves. I will remember that my generation has unwittingly caused much of this damage, and we have a moral responsibility to clean up our messed-up world before handing it on to the next generation. I will stand up for what I believe to be right, rather than what might bring a short-term political advantage.

And I’m proud to say that the Liberal Democrats take a bold stand on environmental stewardship, holding big companies to account and recognising the urgent need to address our climate and biodiversity crises.

My time on the ocean taught me how powerful, majestic, and eternal nature is. And how puny and ephemeral humans are.I had to row with the prevailing winds and currents – if I’d tried to fight the ocean, it would have beaten me, every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Our job is not to conquer nature, but to collaborate with it – because we are part of it.

Other Stuff:

Fairer Food, Better Britain: 7th March – We’re holding an event at the Royal Agricultural University about food and farming, with a panel discussion followed by breakout groups to talk about food security, regenerative agriculture, community gardens, and other aspects of food production and distribution. Tickets are now on sale on Eventbrite! £5 waged, free for students/unwaged.

To keep up to date with me and my campaign, please follow me on Facebook! Or on LinkedIn, if that’s more your style.

We’re keen to welcome more campaigners to our team to help with deliveries and/or doorknocking. Please consider lending us an hour or two a month. Email my wonderful Campaign Organiser, Poppy Fair, for more details.

We are especially looking for help with media liaison and social media. 
Ideally 4-8 hours per week. Details available on request. No obligation – please get in touch!

We are also looking for financial support. Every pound matters – even the price of a weekly latte would help. If you’re ready for positive change in the South Cotswolds, please put your money where your mouth is by hitting Reply to this email, and I’ll let you know how. Thank you! 🙏

Quote(s) of the Week

“For me it’s clear: we must redesign the economy so that it can offer every person access to a dignified existence while protecting and regenerating the natural world.”
― Pope Francis, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future
Have a great week!


Photo by NEOM on Unsplash

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