Major changes have been the result of protest.

My reply to S Thomson in the Sheffield Star

S Thomson thinks I didn’t understand his/her letter. Maybe the reverse is true.

I am very aware that telling people the truth about the climate and ecological emergencies we are facing is a dangerous thing. Climate anxiety is now a recognised condition as many people are becoming fearful for the future. Others may be turned off from doing the right thing as S Thompson suggests. But unless we face the facts that are being presented to us by scientists our society will not treat them with the urgency required.

The pandemic has shown us that the Government can act in an emergency. We can argue about some of the decisions the Government has made, but they have found the resources to vaccinate us and keep people on furlough. Imagine what state the country would now be in if the Government’s response was to ask us all to buy our vaccination, but did nothing to ensure the supplies were available or to support those no longer able to work. But this is how the Government has responded to the climate crisis. They encourage us to put solar panels on our roof, but it is only the wealthy that can afford to do it.

Occasionally the Government does make dramatic decisions that will help us all to do the right thing. We had an example this week when it was announced that the sale of peat compost is going to be banned because this is destroying our peatlands. The UK’s peatlands store three times as much carbon as its forests. Announcing that the ban will not happen until 2024 is not treating it as an emergency. 

The only way we are going to get anywhere near meeting our commitments to reach zero carbon is with Government decisions that force us to change. But we shouldn’t be afraid of these changes, as they can also bring many other benefits, such as warmer homes, cleaner air, less inequality, and better health. 

Changing your personal lifestyle to be less dependent on fossil fuels is commendable- but what is required is system change led by Government to help the whole country to change. 

The major changes I can think of in my lifetime have been the result of organised protest by the people. The end of the poll tax, the end of Apartheid, the fall of the Berlin wall, and locally the closure of the old Bernard Road incinerator and the end of the destruction of our street trees. So while-ever the Government continues to ignore the urgency of the climate and ecological emergencies, I will continue to protest. 

S Thomson’s letter


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