James Lovelock's talk at Hay Festival
I've been thinking a lot about James Lovelock's talk at Hay Festival which left me angry and optimistic in equal measures. I've seen Lovelock speak a few times about his Gaia theory and at the Festival he talked more about the idea that the planet will adapt no matter what humans do. According to Lovelock, there is little point in spending time and money on things like recycling and energy efficiency - these make a tiny difference and the planet will survive regardless. He also used the term Green Propaganda, arguing that the green lobby have prevented nuclear power in the UK. Those are the bits that made me angry...
I take his point that it would be hubris to think that mankind can 'save the planet'. After all, we've only been here for 0.004% of the Earth's life, so it can cope pretty well without us! His view was that we should focus on saving - feeding and watering - the people on the planet. With 842 million people not having enough to eat, this is an enormous problem, and I can take on board Lovelock's thinking that this should be society's focus - not installing solar panels on homes for miniscule energy savings. At 94, he was surprisingly relaxed about the idea that there might be some 'collateral damage' when climate change really takes effect. The population may decrease, but mankind will probably survive in one way or another. What we need to do now is look out for the people who are here.
In some ways, this chimes with our thinking when setting up Eighteen Rabbit. We'd spent five years talking about the environmental impact of live events, seeing few results and no step change. We wanted to 'make a difference' (corny as that sounds) and felt that the biggest impact is to improve the lives of people. Trade is an obvious way to lift people out of poverty, enabling self sufficiency, and access to adequate food and shelter. Hopefully Eighteen Rabbit has made a small difference to some people's lives.
So, after digesting Lovelock's talk, I now realise there's much I agree with. Though I'll still be committed to sorting my recycling and using green energy!