Ban Private Cars in London)
This week I attended the Under Her Eye summit, a two-day festival of Women and Climate change at the British Library, curated by Invisible Dust.
Unusually, for a summit, all the speakers were women. The title Under Her Eye reverses the ‘under his eye’ big brother approach of The Republic of Gilead in Margaret Atwood’s Climate change dystopia The Handmaid’s Tale.
It was impossible not to be alarmed by the urgent message on climate breakdown and mass extinction of the natural world from the key speakers.
Christiana Figueres (who helped deliver the ground-breaking Paris climate change deal in 2015) said ‘We have exceeded planetary boundaries… ( on climate) … we must swallow an alarm clock…We all now either win or lose together’
Caroline Lucas, Leader of the Green party said ‘we have a 2 second window to address climate change’
Meanwhile Margaret Atwood conjured a desperate image of a citizen burying tins of baked beans and sardines in their back garden and then trying to defend that position.
In the world of a rapidly warming climate, caused by human activity, this image conjures up the desperation that might come if we fail to step it up to the next level. Scarcity of food and water would lead inevitably to resource wars.
Darkest of all, was Lisa Autogena’s art work, Untitled (superorganism) which creates a planetary version of the phenomenon of ants commiting suicide by going into a slow ‘spiral of death’.
’There’s a price for blindly following those in front of you. Army ants have a dangerous tendency to commit mass suicide because they are following the leader’.
Christiana Figueres says giving up is ‘irresponsible’. And Caroline Lucas commented that ‘if things don’t change we will go down in history as the species working on its own extinction’.
The speakers at the summit were from a broad range of backgrounds, including scientists, leaders, activists, artists, writers and economists, some offering incredibly inspiring and positive framing of a very dire situation,
However sometimes I felt frustrated with lazy thinking or an almost fairytale belief in technological redemption. Facing a cliff edge IS edgy but we must keep our feet on the ground.
As Margaret Atwood commented ‘Every techno solution has a good side, a bad side and a stupid side we haven’t tbought about yet’.
Declaring a state of emergency
There are rumours that the International Policy Programme on Climate Change (IPCC) will announce in October that we have a decade less to achieve net zero carbon. This means a sharp readjustment of the current trajectory from 2050 down to 2040.