An XR invitation to David Attenborough

David Attenborough gave a blunt speech at Katowice on 3/12/2018. He gave the same message at the National Television Awards ceremony (on 23/1/2018) : the planet is in grave danger, and climate breakdown is only one symptom.

His career in this field is even longer than mine: not until 1973 did I join what became the Green Party, formed in response to this problem which had just been flagged up by the MIT, only then we thought we had time  to change course.

It still hasn’t happened. At least not enough. The ‘Paris’ Climate Agreement in December 2015 was a considerable advance towards what is needed, but the latest IPCC report sharpens up its previous advice: ‘Paris’ is not on course to save us from the developing catastrophe. There is advice as to what could be done. George Monbiot’s book Heat contains imaginative innovations, but why have they not been taken up by entrepreneurs, or governments?

What follows is based mainly on my last week’s blog, but this is intended primarily as a plea to David Attenborough rather than as mitigation in court for an offence I intend to commit.

David, I intend to be part of whatever action is decided by Extinction Rebellion ( XR) at Tinker Lane, Nottinghamshire, the latest site where drilling has commenced with a view to hydraulic fracturing. Others in XR have experience in Non Violent Direct Action. Although I am 84, I have no such experience, so I shall be guided by them.

I have a request to make, though in case that is too much to ask I have a less startling suggestion.

Come with us.

Or if not, please publicize my weblog. Specifically I have been informed by others who have helped me with their internet expertise that I cannot myself insert into the Wikipedia entry on The Tragedy of the Commons, the following statement :

The basic cause of the Tragedy is that the optimum strategies for exploiting opportunities for growth become the worst possible strategies as limits to growth are reached. Due to the exponential principle this change happens quite suddenly, but the growth-oriented strategies persist.”

I am told that this is an original insight. I appreciate the compliment, but Wikipeda is an encyclopedia, not the place for original material. It will only be included if quoted by someone suitably eminent.

Here is a shortened version of my last week’s blog:

The Green Party was a response to the 1972 MIT Limits to Growth warning that although economic growth has given us the modern world’s advantages, sooner or later those limits would cause the world economy to crash. It was obvious to me that this needed a political response. I went Jehovah’s Witness style door to door with the message “The end of the World need not be at hand”. Even in 1974 10% were worried by the MIT Report.

But I did not grasp the enormity of what we had taken on. I am now frighteningly clear on why the political approach is not enough. It is necessary. but so is non-violent direct action, for two reasons which have only dawned on me over the years.

In the first place, ending growth means downsizing. Downsizing is frightening to all but the well-heeled, and few of them see yet why they should. My weblog explains how a basic income is a possible answer to this problem.

But the Capitalists, IGas (who are drilling at Tinker Lane) for example are hoping to make profits, but they are as trapped as the rest of us. The commercial rule is “If we don’t take advantage of an opportunity, someone else will.” They are gambling, but the modern world is prosperous due to gambles which paid off. 

Methane escaping into the atmosphere accelerates climate change 30 times faster than carbon dioxide. Therefore our actions will be pointless unless they help to lead to a cessation of hydraulic fracturing world wide. 40 years ago there was time to plan for a soft economic landing. But the MIT warnings were not heeded.

Agreement for a complete ban within the industry is not necessarily far fetched. It worked for CFCs. Wrecking the ecosphere is not in the interests of transnational profits. As CEO of ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson funded climate denial lies for 10 years. Yet as Secretary of State he advised Donald Trump, to support the 2015 ‘Paris’ Agreement on Climate Change. Tillerson understands the danger of climate change well enough, but he knows that a ban must be total.

David, you said it. The planet is in grave danger. Politics is not enough, but neither are your gentle warnings. The very least I expect from you is a favourable mention of XR.






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