IF YOUR bedtime reading choices say as much about you as your iTunes downloads – and we all know how important they are, because Top People like Barak Obama and, um, Gordon Brown, have shared their playlists (fyi, their faves are Jay-Z and Arctic Monkeys respectively) – then I’ve become a bit of a radical.
Two of the three books on my bedside table have ‘revolution’ in the title: Incredible! Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution by Pam Warhurst and Joanna Dobson is the story of how Incredible Edible Todmorden became a worldwide phenomenon, while The Third Industrial Revolution by Jeremy Rifkin is about how renewable energy and the internet can transform the economy and save the environment.
OK, so I’ve not actually turned into Che Guevara yet, but Ms Eco-Shopper, which was how I started out when I began writing columns about my trials with composting and organic veg boxes for The Press back in 2005 (which led to a book charting my experiences of going green, published in 2008), has become Ms Environmental Campaigner. Courtesy of Galtres Festival, I now have the tattoo and the hair wraps to prove it.
It’s not my normal look; the tat was temporary and I only did it to wind up The Husband. Even that backfired: the beads from the wrap got knotted in my curls and I had to cut it out, along with a chunk of my hair. I’m a rubbish hippy, but grunge isn’t compulsory for campaigning: I’ve addressed the council on fracking and damned Nick Clegg to noisy TUC rallies fully accessorised. I may have to dig out my pearls just to confuse the Tories.
Significantly, the third book on my bedside table is Al Gore’s hardback tome, The Future, which has grown dusty with disuse because, hey – who wants to know what that will bring? Most of us don’t; it’s too scary. Once the robots become smarter than us, which is due to happen in 2029 according to Google’s director of engineering, I don’t rate our chances. Though the acidic oceans, melting Arctic ice and methane leaking from the Siberian permafrost will have scuppered things way before then.
A leaked UN report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came to light this week, which talks about the ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems’ of global warming, even with adaptation, by the end of the century’.
Not that you would gather this from the news, which is fixated with jihadists and Nigel Farage. Both frighten me, but the fact that nearly half of the UK population thinks that there is really significant discrepancy in the views of climate scientists frightens me more.
This came out in a new survey from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, which revealed that 47 per cent believe that most climate scientists reject the idea that human activities like fossil-fuel burning are the main driver of climate change, or that scientists are evenly split on the issue.
Actually, 97 per cent of climate scientists agree. That’s more than a landslide. It’s everyone, bar the nutters.
Clearly something needs to be done about getting that message out there. The days when I fretted about recycling rates and free-range chickens seem a different era now. It’s not that those things aren’t important, but the need to reduce emissions and get the world off fossil fuels overrides them.
How we respond to that as individuals matters.
The Todmorden food-growing movement, which came about because people felt overwhelmed by the threat of climate change and worried about the future for their kids, was founded on three key principles: ‘Stop passing the buck’, ‘We are not victims’ and ‘Actions not words’. They’re all you need.
So, it’s time for actions, and not just words from me, too. That first composting column for The Press has a lot to answer for, and I don’t just mean the five compost bins in our garden. I have been on a journey that regular readers – I even have a few devoted trolls, bless ‘em – have joined me on, and it’s about to take me on a new, exciting and challenging phase.
I’m going to university to do a Masters degree in sustainability, starting in September, and I hope to make a career working as a climate scientist (make that 97.00001 per cent).
This, therefore, is my last column, as I will have my head down studying and essay-writing for the next year.
Thank you for keeping me company along the way. It’s changed my life.