As a professional beekeeper – a full-time environmentalist as it were – I am one of the millions of individuals who have chosen voluntarily to take responsibility for tackling the environmental problems that we face.
I have planted trees, formed gardening groups with fellow residents, insulated my home; and cut down on plastic use. I regularly buy local; I religiously recycle; I rarely fly, and I usually walk. Few Green Party supporters can claim such credentials. I am also one of the millions who have never seen protesting as a way forward.
According to the Cambridge English dictionary, an emergency is ‘a dangerous or serious situation that happens unexpectedly and needs fast action in order to avoid harmful result’. A recent example of an emergency in Brighton & Hove was the Pankhurst fire that displaced 50 families who moments before could not have imagined that their lives would so suddenly be turned upside down.
The fact that the word emergency exists suggests that we can’t predict the future. No one predicted Chernobyl. And, closer to home, few predicted the banking crisis.
Unfortunately, people are vulnerable to manipulation when their focus is turned from solutions to fears, and some interest groups exist to take advantage of this. Catastrophising has historically been very profitable; from selling indulgences in the Middle Ages to PPI mis-selling. These are good examples of why motives matter.
Climate change matters immensely, but not in the way that it is being sold. Let’s call it hysteria-merchandising. For example, asking if we should still have children if we want to save the planet, or glueing ourselves to tube trains in deprived parts of London.
The actual devotion to the cause has replaced finding a solution to the problem. And the mantra has become: I’m caring, therefore I’m credible; I’m compassionate, therefore I speak the truth. We have to discern the message from the method.
We see these types of proclamation every day in the media. The plastering of moral platitudes is just like the forecourt of a used-car garage covered with red ‘for sale’ stickers.
The actress Emma Thompson joined protests in London that called for a reduction in CO2. She flew in, and out, by jet – business class of course. Who is the polluter calling on, if not themself, to take action? They claim not to mean you. It is always someone else. Someone richer. Someone with a larger house. Someone who takes more foreign holidays. Perhaps the Government. In the case of Emma Thompson, it is not clear whom she is calling on when clearly she is the polluter.
Proposed solutions and they are rare, are based on taxing and taking – taking and rationing – from someone else. But how is a government going to deliver solutions to climate change with all your billions of extra taxes? Which government department is competent to deliver innovation? Or is it going to be an Elon Musk, or a James Dyson?
Who would you rather give your hard-earned money to? Who have you very likely already given plenty of money to by buying their products? These innovators look for solutions through human ingenuity and private capital. They are not micro-managed by government departments.
Google ‘teenage plastic ocean’ and you won’t find reference to a boy band, but to Irish and Dutch teenagers with ideas on how to free the oceans of plastic. They are not talkers. They are doers.
Not everybody can be an inventor but millions can and do choose to take responsibility by eating, travelling, planting, recycling and reusing with fellow citizens in mind. These actions often come with no cost but, when they do, they are still readily embraced. When people care, they spend voluntarily.
Instead of believing in raising taxes, as the Left always proposes, Conservatives believe in letting you decide what to spend your money on. The more money that you have to spend, the more money you can spend on proven innovators who can deliver technological shifts which will lead to a sustainable future.
It might not be by 2030, or even in 12 years’ time, but it will be a whole lot sooner than any tax and spend government could deliver.
Best of all, the solutions are very likely to come from one of those wonderful teenagers.