I just heard a BBC presenter stating that it is too late to reduce emissions to avoid dangerous effects of climate change. We’ve known this some years but the trusted voice of the BBC now confirms it. The topic was the Royal Society report on Geoengineering Climate, launched today with James Lovelock and others. Their point is that although we should continue to reduce emissions through industry and lifestyle, on a nation by nation basis using carbon trading as the basic mechanism, we also urgently need more radical and imaginative global solutions such as carbon scrubbing, carbon sinks and algal blooms in the sea.
The carbon emissions approach, termed ‘mitigation’ or ‘amelioration’ is vital but it needs to move into a new phase where we adapt to the effects of global climate disruption, which includes continuing to mitigate it. This balance of the terms ‘mitigation’ and ‘adaptation’ is quite complex, as you can see from this report on Scotland’s Climate Change adaptation framework. Can you separate the two terms? What do they both mean?
For me, what matters is accepting that change is happening. Polar ice is melting. Wildfires are raging. It also means accepting that climate change is unpredictable, so we must not argue over the precise predictions for the future but plan for wide ranges of possibility. It means keeping a ‘both/and’ approach, that you must both hope and act for a better future and see the worst of what could happen if we don’t hope and act.
On Sunday, I went over to the Climate Camp at Blackheath. It was fascinating: quiet, focused and thoughtful, like a climate university (although perhaps missing some expert lecturers). The focus was ‘what are we going to ask for at Copenhagen? How do we get world leaders to aim for more ambitious emissions targets and look at alternatives to carbon trading?’ I discovered the tent of EcoLabs – with a display of artwork commissioned to illustrate the Future Scenarios in Mark Lynas’ book Six Degrees. MIT now believes that the likely temperature increase will be in the range of 3.5-7.4 degrees hotter by 2100 so it potentially exceeds the book’s 6th degree. It was hard to even face looking at the effects of the third degree increase. As I went out of the tent, a smiling dad with a little toddler on his shoulders came in.
I decided whatever I was doing wasn’t enough. So, what am I doing?
This afternoon I’m volunteering at the launch of 1010 at Tate Modern, a huge campaign to galvanise the UK’s businesses, schools, museums, households, councils etc to reduce emissions by 10% by the end of 2010. It is set up by Franny Armstrong, director of The Age of Studid, and is looking like it has the potential to captivate people’s imaginations. After today I want to focus on getting cultural and heritage organisations to sign up to the 1010 pledge.
This weekend I’m going to an event called Moot, to camp with a small group of people who work in museum, gallery and arts education who are concerned about ecology and climate change.
Next week I’m going to a small conference led by DCMS, who have commissioned Arup to develop an adaptation strategy for the cultural & heritage sector.
I’m continuing to work on a project, now called The Tide Clock, about the role of cultural heritage & creative activism in areas of coastal and fluvial flood risk.
I’m developing a framework for cultural heritage organisations to think about both mitigating and adapting to global climate disruption, looking at both their operations and their public engagement mission. I’m considering creating a network called ClimB for climate brokers in the cultural and heritage sectors, who work with clients or within their organisations to implement and improve this framework. I’d be very grateful for any feedback on this draft framework and from anyone keen to support a network of this sort. Leave comments here and/or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org