Plane Stupid launches new blog series


In collaboration with website blog CtrlAltShift, Plane Stupid is launching today the first of many blogs on issues such as climate change, environmental justice and social justice to name a few. Every Monday you will be able to get your weekly dosage of key thinking on the important issues of today. Here's the first, written by activist Richard George and titled "We're In Charge - Or Nothing Is Going To Change".

To paraphrase author and activist Derek Jensen, every morning I wake up and ask myself whether I should go to work or shut down an airport. Going to work usually wins - I work for a green charity, and tell myself that I can make a difference sitting at my desk - but that doesn't make it a rational response to climate change. Instead, it's time to get disobedient.

It's not a want of impassioned campaigning that's stopping progress on climate change, but a lack of meaningful action. If campaign success was measured in petitions, marches and demonstrations, we'd be well on our way to solving the problem. Instead, scientists are warning that we're headed for a 4 degree rise in global temperatures, and we're only on track to meet our CO2 targets because of the recession.

Those of us who have been enjoying the balmy summer might secretly look forward to warmer temperatures, but stories about vineyards in Scotland bear no resemblance to reality. At 4 degrees, Kent turns into Marrakech - 45 degrees C in the shade. Even a 2 degree rise leaves Europe uncomfortably hot and condemns the global south to a very nasty future.

You might think that such a serious threat would galvanise people to action, but so far the response has been muted. Sure, we've marched a bit, and there have been calls for govenment to do something. We have even got a shiny new law: the Climate Change Act 2008. But the net result is resolutely business as usual, as lobbyists, businesses and politicians frantically backpedal, obfuscate and do everything they can to prevent lasting and meaningful change.

The problem, as I see it, is partly one of language. We turn our faces to the sky and cry, "The earth is dying! We must do more to stop it!" But the earth is not dying, it is being killed. Unhelpfully, the people killing it are incentivised to do so by the fortunes they make selling cars, trading in carbon or flying people to Manhattan to go shoe shopping. Helpfully, they have names and addresses, which means that we can pay them a visit and persuade them to stop.

We need to accept that government, businesses and the army of civil servants are not going to make the changes we need. They have too much invested in the present system. Instead, it is our responsibility, not just to be the change we want to see, but to reshape the world as we want it to be. This means changing our behaviour - buying less crap, turning down thermostats and all that jazz - but far more importantly, it means making sure that business as usual is simply not an option.

We still have a chance to make a difference, but we'll have to be quick. Unlike campaigns to end poverty, or stop the arms trade, this one has a deadline. Once we hit a certain temperature, large amounts of greenhouse gases, such as the methane stored in the frozen Siberiam permafrost, will start to leak out of their own accord. If we're going to stop runaway climate change, we have only a few years in which to do it.

So what can - and should - you be doing? Think global, act local. Find your nearest "carbon criminal" - a coal fired power station, an airport, an open-cast coal mine - get some friends, and pay them a visit. Don't be a "green consumer", or an "ethical shopper" or whatever buzzword some arsehole in marketing dreamt up. Instead, get active in your community, your school, your workplace.

Make sure that government realises that the changes which need to happen - and which would make the world a better, fairer place, even if climate change wasn't happening - are going to happen, even if we have to go through them to do it. Because until they realise that we're in charge, nothing is going to change.

But whatever you do, don't lose hope. We can win this if we work togethor and remember what we're fighting for. It's ok to go to work most days (unless you work for an oil company, in which case, call in sick). Just remember: if you want to make a difference, you have to get off the sofa and start taking action against those who would condemn us to a future not worth living.

See you on the streets.