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The Wave – 6th December 2009

December 6, 2009

Yesterday it was my privilege to stand with over 40,000 people wearing blue and walking round the streets of London. There was a purpose to this: to send a message to those about to meet in Copenhagen that tackling climate change requires serious measures on the part of the international community. Of course, there’s no point expecting our leaders to do something heroic if we, the people they represent, don’t send a signal to show that we care. Hence giving up a Saturday, wearing outrageously blue clothes and making my walrus-like protesting shout as we marched round the streets.

It was great to make some good connections on the day, especially outside Westminster Central Hall, where there was an impromptu worship and prayer time.

I did encounter the odd skeptical voice along the way (Phil deals with this issue here). I’m still bemused by this: the Times mentioned on Thursday that the scientific academies of America, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Russia and the Uniten Kingdom have concluded that “There is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occuring. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.” If we had even 5% of this level of scientific support for the idea that, say, mobile phones caused irreperable brain damage, we’d change our lifestyles tomorrow! For my money, we need to get moving on this, even while we still sort out exactly what is going on in our climate and how bad it might or might not get.

And the links with consumerism are obvious. In some ways we need to lower our consumption (of fossil fuels), in others we need to change our consumption (being less wasteful, building a more sustainable economy, etc). But there’s another link with consumerism, too. The climate challenge requires us to be citizens – to get involved, to organise, to be politically active. Which brings me back to yesterday. As I walked through the busy streets of Piccadilly on the way to the march, the choice was clear. We can live our lives as individual consumers in pursuit of ‘the happy life’; or we can take time to step outside the system and get engaged with the big issues threatening the lives of others. Consumerism isn’t always the bad guy – but until we can get beyond the consumer mentality we’ll never be able to face up to the challenege of climate change.

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