Friday, October 10, 2008

No such thing as Environmental Issues . . .

A Sustainable future means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. I believe that sustainability is a journey, a process and also a state of mind; it's about the Human Spirit, our outlook on life, our neighbours, ourselves and everything we share our planet with.

During my long career in the environmental movement, I've worked with countless individuals, groups, NGO's, organisations, politicians - even a former USA Vice-President in an attempt to push forward the concept of environmental sustainability. Some progress has been made of course, but we now seem to have reached a point where humanity is precariously balanced between greater self-potential and environmental disaster. However,we must see our predicament as not simply an environmental issue, but a common social and moral responsibility, and we desperately need a shift in consciousness - a kind of spiritual awakening otherwise we will simply perpetuate the insanity of the past or at best only treat the symptoms of our dis-ease, not the underlying causes.

For me, being an 'Environmentalist' was never really enough anyway; if I was ever going to do my small bit towards promoting an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on this planet and really start to change attitudes and behaviours, it became clear to me some years ago that I would need to acquire a wider range of skills to achieve my objectives.

Sustainable Development has many different definitions, but mine has always seen spiritual and social values as essential ingredients. (See above) So today, I combine the skills of Consultant, Facilitator and Therapist because we must now go beyond mere environmentalism and present a far more holistic and joined-up approach to our work on sustainability. Gone (I hope) are the days of lecturing, blaming and bullying - we are now at last beginning to take people with us and better understand their motivations and even explore things like the psychology of changing attitudes and behaviour.

We have come to believe that we are separate from, and superior to, nature and have unhitched ourselves from the biological reality we are a part of. In an attempt to further disassociate ourselves from our actions, we have created 'environmental issues' so that we can hide or marginalise the chaos we are creating and get on with the more important things in life.

My mantra is this: There ARE no environmental issues - EVERYTHING we do is an environmental issue.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they be executed." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday was our Grandsons' seventh birthday.We spent the afternoon at his home with some of the family, and watched proudly as he opened his presents; the usual boys stuff - computer games, a few books and some plastic robots and cars.The conversation among the adults quickly turned to the amount of 'stuff' we all think we need these days and the effect all of this junk has on our environment. My opinion was sought about the latest state of the climate, and my reply was honest but measured considering that we were attending a birthday celebration and everybody was supposed to be happy.

The family are just good, caring, ordinary people concerned for the future of this small boy and his young parents, and they complained to me that they found it confusing and difficult to find out what effective action they should take to reduce their environmental impact/carbon footprint. There seemed to be plenty of information out there, but most of it seemed to be conflicting greenwash: To make matters worse, our leaders don't appear to be doing anything about climate change yet so why should they?

On Monday, I found myself in a room with some of those leaders at the Houses of Parliament for one of my regular meetings as a member of The All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group. After hearing some of the latest incredibly dire projections about 'Aggravated Accumulation', and the fact that we only have until 2012 - yes 2012 before we reach the point of no return, we settled down to watch a special preview of a new film about our rapidly changing climate.
'The Age of Stupid' was introduced to us by actor Pete Postlethwaite - he's the guy with the 'lived in' features who Stephen Spielberg called 'The best actor in the world'. This enormously ambitious independent drama-documentary-animation hybrid stars Oscar-nominated Pete as an old man living in the devastated world of 2055, watching "archive" footage from 2007 and asking: Why didn't we stop climate change while we had the chance?

However, all the way through this well crafted, incredibly moving film, I could see the face of my grandson sitting amongst all of his new plastic toys, looking at me and saying ' Why didn't you stop climate change while you had the chance Grandad'?
Although I have been working on climate change for many years now, including some work with Al Gore and his people on 'An Inconvenient Truth' a couple of years ago, Sunday and Monday gave me something to think about - maybe it's another wake up call. Whatever, this time around it's personal.

So - there's no time to lose, here's the plan.Firstly, we need to address the situation about the lack of reliable, accessible environmental information. One of the most successful websites in the UK is Martin Lewis', a truly intuitive one-stop-shop for information and advice about finance. We need to do the same for environmental issues, so I am in the process of seting up a website called, which I hope will eventually achieve similar popularity. More on this later.

Secondly, with The All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group, (APPCCG) our main objective is to shake our politicians into decisive action on climate issues. One of the tangible outcomes so far is the forthcoming Climate Change Bill which will be made law later this year. It's a groundbreaking piece of legislation which will make the UK the first country in the world to commit to legally-binding cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, but it still needs some strengthening by the Autumn. In addition, we are pressing for a Cross-Party Consensus on Climate Change. I will need your help with lobbying yor MP on both these critical issues. Again, more to follow.

Finally, next to accurate, empowering information, the most important thing people expect on critical issues like this is leadership. Where are our leaders when we need them? Could it be that they are feeling as disempowered as the rest of us? I am now looking at what needs to be done to influence the main political parties on climate change issues in the run up to and during the party conference season in the Autumn.

Let's be in no doubt about the urgency and seriousness of the situation we are all in: If you had a choice to be in a car crash at five miles per hour, or one going at fifty mph, which one would you choose? That, in a nutshell is where we are at.

If you are with me, call me . . . Just don't call me Grandad!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The problem with political jokes is they get elected . . .

2006 has certainly been a bumper year for environmental issues making the headlines, especially The Independent newspaper here in the UK, but as we know, a plethora of information does not mean that action will necessarily follow.

Environmentalists have finally had it with this Government. Despite lots of warm words about the need to act quickly on climate change, and even a genuine, astute and committed Environment Minister, the promise of joined-up-government is still a distant dream. The DfT announcement last week of further support for the expansion of Britain's airports just proves how dis-connected from each other government department silos still are.

If this lack of leadership and direction were not bad enough, there is an even bigger problem. The public are confused; they are by now aware and even concerned about climate change, but most will only be motivated to act themselves when they see their government take the issue seriously. "If climate change were a serious threat then the government would be doing something" they say.

Hello - is anybody in Westminster listening?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Are we stuck in neutral over carbon offsets?

Years ago, we environmentalists were complaining that people were happy just to ease their conscience a little by paying up and supporting the plethora of green groups eager to grab their money, rather than taking any real action themselves. Today, there's a danger that people are still stuck in neutral as they pay to offset their personal carbon emissions instead of making any practical changes to their behavoiur.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt . . ( Mark Twain)

Last night, at last, I saw the Al Gore film 'An Inconvenient Truth'.My guests and I enjoyed an evening which consisted of a pre-screening of the film - due for UK release on September 15th, followed by presentations and analysis from Nicky Gavron, Deputy Mayor of London, and the Rt Hon John Gummer MP, former Environment Minister currently involved with the Conservative Party Quality of Life Commission.

The film was terrifying. Despite working full-time on climate change, and being involved with UIP who are distributing the film, it was a sober reminder as to why the climate challenge is so pressing. There is absolutely nothing more important in the world today than working flat-out to try and address these issues.

The presentations after the film were interesting: Nicky Gavron highlighted some of the excellent work she and her administration were doing for London(do Londoners really use more energy than Portugal and Greece put together??), but unfortunately she was hurried and rambling. I need to put her intouch with my friend and mentor Lesley Everett ASAP.

John Gummer was rabid. He was well informed and passionate but David Cameron needs to keep him on a very short lead. Faced with such blood-curdling venom, his messages were all but lost. You would think that he would have learned a thing or two about presentation skills by now. Another candidate for Lesley . . .

GO AND SEE THIS FILM. Let me know what you thought of it.
Take the pledge at
For group bookings go to

'The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences'.
Winston Churchill. 1936.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ten Years to Save the World . . .

As I sit in the shade of the twisted willow in my garden, swealtering in the heat of one of Britains' hottest days, I am carefully sorting through the pile of papers, leaflets and business cards I accumulated at yesterdays 'Cities Action Summit for Climate Solutions' conference in London. The postman arrives with the usual pile of junk mail and a small parcel; it's the copy of Al Gore's book 'An Inconvenient Truth' that I had ordered from America some weeks earlier.

Maybe it's a sign. Although I have been involved with climate change issues since 1991, the mood at yesterdays conference was quite depressing even for eternal optimists like myself. While many of the experts were working successfully with sustainable solutions, and companies like Shell and BP were forging ahead with new renewable technologies, many - indeed most, seemed to think that it was already too late to turn things around, that it could be be all over for much of the human race in less than 50 years as we will be consuming the resources equivalent to 3 planets. The Deputy Mayor of London reminded us that we were all now consuming as much oil in a day as we were using in a year in the 1950's.

Reading through the pages of notes from yesterday, and more and more projections and figures, there can be no doubt that we are, indeed, in serious trouble.
As a Father and Grandfather, I shudder to think what the future will be like for future generations, but when I look at the legacy we are leaving our children, it becomes personal, close to home.

Everybody agreed yesterday that we desperately need is strong political leadership to face the challenges ahead, and we were reminded of a quote by Napoleon; ' A leader is a dealer in hope' . .
As an environmentalist, I have always been on a mission, but now it's personal and even more pressing, and I'm more driven and focussed to work on climate issues than I have ever been before.

Just 'Ten years to save the World' then, and all of a sudden, an appropriate title for the book I have been writing has emerged . . .

Graham Game - At large. Yesterday London, today Essex, tomorrow the World.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

How much longer can Tony Blair take the heat?

Environmentalists who have been battling for years to get Climate Change on the agenda, can hardly believe their eyes as hardly a day goes by without a climate story in the media these days. But it's not the environmentlists who are sounding the alarm bells this time, it's everybody from former American Vice President Al Gore here in the UK last week, to the leaders of thirteen of our biggest companies lobbying Tony Blair for some action - even the mighty Lloyds of London warned the insurance industry to get a grip on climate issues this week or risk extinction.

The threat of Climate Change is now well recognised, but the business community in the UK can clearly see the opportunities a green revolution can offer; we already have most of the solutions and the technology ready to be rolled out, and the UK is world renowned for innovation and even leadership. Ah yes, leadership.

Those thirteen business leaders will be pressing the Prime Minister to show some leadership this week. He would do well to listen carefully. As I joined the standing ovation at the end of Al Gore's passionate climate speech at Hay last week, I'm sure I was not the only person in that packed marquee to think that it should have been Tony Blair on that stage instead.
He could do it - he must do it, instead the world seems to be passing him by as he becomes increasingly bogged down and embattled by domestic matters. I remember a Tony Blair who used to be unstoppable when he was on a mission and had the wind in his sails, he could sweep away almost any obstacles in his path; he needs to understand that today's climate issues are unstoppable and the best position for him, and the hundreds of businesses in this country poised and ready for the new green revolution, is leading the charge from the front.