The recent peopleâ€™s revolutions in the Middle East have been playing on all 24 hour rolling news for the entire world to see at the click of a button. There has been such an excess of reports from embedded journalists crouching behind burning tanks that these images have come to partly define my expectation of what todayâ€™s revolutions look like.
If I was alive in the 1960â€™s I probably would have looked to the Chinese Cultural Revolution with their stoic faces and red flags. If I was alive during the revolutions in the 1970â€™s I might have imagined a revolution to look like the Iranian Ayatollahâ€™s eyes staring me down. And until this past year, revolutions for me have been characterized by a man with plastic bags facing down armoured tanks in Tiananmen Square. But the revolution I want to talk about has been a silent, bloodless revolution, happening right on our doorstep and influencing all aspects of our everyday life.
I am referring to the Green Revolution.
So pervasive is our dependency on energy that a week without hot showers/laptops/cars/mobiles etc would feel like a week in the Middle Ages. This dependency combined with the triple threat of anthropogenic Climate Change, a massively expanding population and dwindling reserves of fossil fuels has meant that the Green Revolution has moved up our priority list.
Businesses have been quick to capitalise on this fact and it seems that every third advert is lined with Green bells and whistles, designed to tempt us away from
fossil fuel guilt and towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Products from Starbucks coffee all the way to EasyJet flights are vying for our attention and consumer pounds by proudly proclaiming their â€˜Greenâ€™ credentials (can flights really be Green?). But have we not learnt that capitalist forces can subtly nudge us away from social benefits and instead have us chasing products and profits we simply donâ€™t need?
With the global nature of
Climate Change and our global dependency on energy should we not be looking for global solutions?
The Green Revolution has slowly been gathering pace and is almost at a critical mass point where being environmental is so prevalent in our everyday lives, that itâ€™s considered the norm.
But we are not there yet.
I'm worried that many people will be turned-off energy efficient technologies by advertising campaigns that saturate our attention with â€˜ecoâ€™ friendly products that are anything but (I donâ€™t think weâ€™re convinced that flying with EasyJet or drinking â€˜ecoâ€™-friendly coffee will change the world). Iâ€™m also concerned that we will use our products more often as we believe that having saved some energy over here, we can use more energy over there, thus diminishing the original benefits (rebound effects).
These rebound effects can be profound and government policy makers need to be aware of them, but I would argue governments also need to be aware that companies could stifle the Green Revolution before it reaches critical mass. We should want to encourage companies with an environmental record, not because it will make us feel better, but because it is the right thing to do.
We are so close to damaging our world irrevocably (and thereby threatening our own existence) that we all need to change, and quickly. We have to start taking responsibility, individually and collectively for the way we live our lives. The longer we stare into the sustainable abyss without jumping in with both feet, the more difficult it will become to make the leap. Iâ€™m not saying that it will be a quick transition and it will mean making some tough decisions. But to continue the way we are is not sustainable and is now not an option.
So this is a call to arms comrades. If we accept our responsibility for sustainable energy usage future generations will look to us as the revolutionary paradigm. The change needed is so great and pervasive that we all need to be committed and all pushing in the same direction. We cannot allow ourselves to ignore the problem any longer. Mother Nature will not allow us.
But I believe we can do it. We have the knowhow, the resources and the manpower.
All we need is the will. And that's where you come in.