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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The NEW INTERNATIONALIST is a long running magazine with a strong geographical focus to certain content.
It also has a sound stance on what is stands for, and has a radio station and several blogs with interesting articles. Would make good regular reading for 6th form students.
There is a review of what looks like an interesting book on Climate change, pictured below:

Also on the PLANE STUPID website (which campaigns against air travel, particularly no frills flights) I came across this undated article by Pamela Nowicka on the disparity between "Climate Change Land" and the Real World, which highlights the problems of actually getting people to change their lives in the way that they need to:

Sitting in my London flat, bundled up against the buffeting May winds outside, with the thermostat on my not-turned-on central-heating registering a chilly 19 degrees C, I reflect on the previous weekend’s Climate Change conference and the mind-altering experience of flitting between two realities: Climate Change Land (CCL) and the Real World.

In CCL, everyone is very concerned about Climate Change and its impacts on the Planet, whether environmental or in terms of social justice. There is a sense of things changing fast…and not in a good way. There’s a commonality of purpose, a consensus that 4X4s are, if not exactly the work of the devil, at least Very Bad. Most people in CCL are cyclists and recyclers, and they have a shared sense that there is a lot more to Climate Change than fluffy polar bear cubs toppling of glaciers and drowning in icey waters (obviously without being disrespectful to fluffy polar bear cubs).

Wandering around the conference, having chats about Transition Towns, Contraction & Convergence and the lie of Carbon Credits, you could be forgiven for thinking that the whole climate change thing was just about sorted, and it was merely a question of putting the right mechanisms in place.

Lulled into a false sense of common purpose and shared values, the hapless delegate can find herself (obviously using herself in a way which includes himself) in for a nasty shock when beaming back into the Real World.

On the streets of London, it’s as though Climate Change Land is just a dream. Cars containing single occupants compete to eat up road space, honking at any cyclist who dares challenge their apparently god-given right to take up most of the road and accelerate through red lights.

Staggering into an independently owned café for a reviving Fairtrade latte, our erstwhile delegate flicks though a paper. The front page is full of the pictures of drought-ridden denizens of the global south looking rather fed-up, and a diagram of a fluffy polar bear cub toppling off a glacier. But inside the paper is full of ads for low-cost airlines, stag weekends in Prague, exotic foreign holidays, 4X4s and the latest consumer must-have to-die-for wotsits.

Disconnect or what? It’s a bit like schizophrenia but without the glamour.

Like a time-traveller bouncing between dimensions, our plucky delegate struggles to make out which reality is really Real. Is it the people of Climate Change Land, talking about industrialised countries having 5-10 years to change behaviour before the Climate Changes become locked in, sentencing the planet and inhabitants of the Majority World to horrendous consequences? Or is it the ‘business as usual with the occasional bit of rhetoric chucked in to sound good’ activities of denizens of the Real World.

Perhaps nowhere is the disconnect more glaring, a veritable psychic crevasse filled with the still warm bodies of a billion fluffy polar bear cubs, than on the thorny topic of tourism, holidays and international travel.

For most people in industrialised countries, tourism and holidays mean flying. And, as anyone from Climate Change Land can tell you, flying means emissions which are not currently counted, and which cause more damage because of the high altitude they at which they are produced. Climate Change people can also quote, apparently at the drop of a hat, statistics about the staggering and government funded growth in airports, increasing numbers of flights, subsidies on the aviation industry, aviation fuel and the predicted doubling in size of the global tourism industry within the next decade.

But in the Real World, none of this matters. Because everyone in the Real World knows to the very core of their turbo-charged, I’ve worked for it so I’ll buy it, individual consumerist being, that holidays are sacrosanct, a must-have product, essential to life and certainly NOT a luxury.

And in the Real World, we’re just not bovvered about Climate Change. We’ll swap to low-energy lightbulbs, buy Fairtrade or organic and then flick through the internet to get the best price on easylastminute.com to jet off on the holiday of a lifetime to see the fluffy polar bear cubs as the topple off icebergs and into extinction. Because this is the Real World, and there’s not really anything anyone can do about that climate thing. The scientists disagree and if it was really so bad the government would do something about it. So it’s nothing to do with me. But you can watch my clip of the polar bear cub on YOUtube.

Article by Pamela Nowicka, who is the author of the No Nonsense Guide to Tourism.

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