Welcome to Radical Light.
For a variety of reasons, I’ve decided to commit to digital paper my thoughts on the unfolding global warming crisis, mine and others’ last gasp efforts to avert it, and the possible (better) alternatives to Anglo-Saxon capitalism that we will inevitably need pursue if civilisation is to survive.
As the Cabinet Member for Energy and Sustainability in a Labour administration that has placed rapid decarbonisation, the democratisation of (clean) energy, the circular economy, sustainable procurement, resource conservation and plastics reduction, biodiversity, and public ownership at the heart of its work, I thought this the most appropriate platform to demonstrate both the practical work being undertaken in Hackney, and the challenges encountered on the way.
I’d also like to use this blog for the purposes of discussing how the solutions thrown up by our increasingly desperate attempts to thwart the march to even greater environmental disaster might help us lay the foundations of societies that meet people’s material, social, cultural, and familial needs within the resource limitations of the only known habitable planet in the universe. To uncover, in the words of David Fleming, ‘the inspiration that has lain dormant, like the seed beneath the snow’.
While I’m keen not to ascribe blame for our parlous ecological circumstances to individuals, who are locked into an economic system over which they have little control (anyone who has attempted to acquire food shopping not universally covered in non-recyclable plastic film will attest to this), radically different lifestyle choices can both have a practical impact and help us to salvage a degree of agency and sense of control in an increasingly unstable world. I’d like to use this blog to look at everything from buy-me-once products, to low-carbon holidays and zero carbon fun, to reducitarianism, to palm oil-free soap. Given that we are already consuming 2.5 times the resources that the planet has the ability to replenish, and that the OECD estimate resource consumption will double between now and 2060, learning to live well, and perhaps better, with less, is an art we are going to have to rediscover.
Finally, being an environmentalist with a wife and two young children on a dying planet is very, very hard on your mental health. As I write this post, as my beautiful children lie abed, Southern California is in the grip of wildfires. In November. The feeling of grief, helplessness, anger, and claustrophobia is, at times, overwhelming, and exacerbated by what can only be described as a psychopathic political class committed to the fantasy of endless economic growth on a finite planet at all costs. It’s bad enough that I’m afflicted with these thoughts and feelings, but worse that I routinely offload them on to the people I love. They’ve undertaken enough emotional labour on my behalf already; it’s time for the blog to pull its weight as a form of therapy.
Next time, it’ll be good news. Promise.