Outrage, engagement and action

Bill McKibben

Last week I blogged about Russell Brands outrage and disgust with the three main UK political parties: his view is that we need a revolution which is largely spiritual. Would not a spiritual revolution manifest in changed outward behaviour? If Russell Brand still has his money invested in the fossil fuel industry this surely undermines his ethical stance on climate change, and his justifiable outrage at current political inaction.

On Thursday night I went to Birmingham to hear the inspirational Bill McKibben talk about the global fossil fuel disinvestment campaign. Known reserves of carbon based fuels are five times greater than the maximum amount we can possibly burn without causing catastrophic climate change. The share price of the oil, coal and gas companies is based on them exploiting all these known reserves. As we must leave the carbon under the ground these resources are effectively worthless and thus the share price of the fossil fuel companies rests on a carbon bubble. It makes both good economic and ecological sense to disinvest now. Churches, universities, individuals and organisations around the world are just beginning to do so. The disinvestment campaign was effective in helping bring down apartheid in South Africa. It will be a necessary element in bringing about effective action on climate change.

Russell Brand advocates not voting. Having been a Green Party, and before that Ecology Party, supporter since the mid-1970’s and having always voted for candidates who failed to get their deposits back I do share his frustration with the slowness of political change. Once in my life, many years ago, I did vote for one of the three main parties when no Green was standing, and with a vague sense of revulsion I voted Liberal Democrat to stop a Tory getting elected: I felt somehow polluted by the experience. However I think it is important to engage politically and valuable to look outside one’s own backyard for inspiration. The Green Party has famously made a breakthrough in Brighton, and just as impressively but less famously in Solihull, Kirklees and elsewhere. I’ll blog soon about some of these lesser known political heroes. They might even inspire Russell Brand to get up off the sofa and go and vote.

Bill McKibben interviewed in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/bill-mckibben-fossil-fuel-divestment-campaign-climate