A greener field of thought

IMGP2309I’ve just wasted too many hours today hoping to be able to inject a green voice into the pro-growth wastes of BBC airtime. I had a spot to say my bit about HS2 and greener transport policies on You & Yours, but I just hung on for an hour receiving no explanation. No green perspective was included in the whole programme. You can see what I think about the BBC and green voices here.

I’m both trying to make a difference and trying to cope with the fact that I can’t bring about a revolution. I want to have more influence but I don’t want to go down an egotistical route. It’s hard. Yesterday, I put this update on Facebook:

“When you turn on the (UK) news there are so many appalling things the Government plans to do that make no sense, that are just pushing through action for the sake of votes, that destroy civic and ecological connections. Each thing makes me think ‘I’d give up a lot to campaign against that’. Planning 150,000 little boxes on greenbelt land. HS2. Trident. Badger cull. Fracking licences. Eric Pickles wanting to revive high streets by letting cars speed in and park anywhere. Everything by Michael Gove. NHS sliding into privatisation. I could go on, and on. And I haven’t even started on foreign policy and world issues. So, how to turn that energy into action into projects that sustain me (actually, sustain four family members)? I’m working on a plan with others to focus on positive ecological innovation, harnessing creativity and culture. Just have to convert that crackling ire into energy for this plan…”

So many people commented on it, it must have touched something. A big topic was whether I (and we, in general) should get more active in political parties. Some said I’d be a great politician, others said we need alternatives to political parties. I am a Green Party member but feel I can’t give precious time to get up to the ranks of potential MP candidate if hardly anybody votes Green. It’s a conundrum. But in the meantime, I can still advocate the green/Green perspective. If I can’t be heard on BBC Radio, I will at least speak when and where I can. I have to speak my mind, and if it risks me not being employed by particular clients, so be it.

So, what was I going to say about HS2? This is the planned High Speed rail line from London to Birmingham, which will then extend with two lines to Leeds and Manchester. It’s a big topic because its projected costs are so high – latest estimate £70bn. (Note that the monetary cost is the only cost noted, rarely does anyone count the ecological cost of losing acres and acres of wild space, ancient woodlands and gardens.) But it’s only part of a bigger issue, Government’s transport policy, of which a more worrying aspect is its Action for Roads spending spree of £26bn, doubling the width of many roads for no evidenced gain. That said, HS2 is concerning because it represents the inability of Government to take into account future scenarios. The main argument for it is not speed but capacity. Overcrowding can be addressed by evening out prices, exposing the most crowded trains to customers, and reducing 1st class seats. However, I don’t believe overcrowding will be an issue as we cannot assume that consumer trends will continue upwards. We must account for the Black Swan of climate change. The resulting economic collapse will reduce all capacity for work and leisure travel, and until this point (if it is a point) advances in technology will make slow journeys more productive and reduce the need for work journeys. The Government should plan transport as part of an overarching strategy to mitigate and adapt to ecological and economic collapse. This means infrastructure such as flood barriers, more resilient food systems (aquaponics, permaculture etc) and bolstering local provision of food and energy. A business model for the nation based on going further faster is already dead. We don’t even need to imagine better ways of connecting as we’re already using them. But we need the Government to invest in them, with our money.

Here’s a great infographic from NEF describing how the money could be better spent.


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