In the late 1980s the science relating to climate change was unproven but there was sufficient concern that this could lead to mass loss of human life that I decided to take a change in direction in my life and campaign on environmental issues. There are lots of associated issues; for example – road safety (if people cannot walk and cycle in safety they are trapped into ever greater use of the family car). So I joined and began to initiate campaigns both locally and nationally, tackling road safety and fossil fuel use. I also worked to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. I had some great experiences, some noteworthy successes and have a great story to tell – but that will have to wait until another day.
By the late 1990s the world of science was certain that climate change was caused by human activities; lives were already being lost due to increasing extreme weather events and matters would get a lot worse. In the year 2004 a landmark UN report ended all doubt. It was now vital that humanity take dynamic and immediate steps to reduce fossil fuel use and slash greenhouse gas emissions. The evidence was clear – if humanity did not change we faced the prospect of mass loss of human life as a serious of positive feedbacks kick in (albedo, release of methane hydrates, etc.) raising planetary temperatures to the point where agricultural production would plummet.
I worked with a number of eco-campaign groups and some political parties, but the awful truth was that we in the UK and humanity at large were not making the scale of change that was needed to avert calamity. By 2013 we were told that around 400,000 people a year were being killed by climate change, with the bulk of deaths amongst the most vulnerable people on the planet – 340,000 deaths were of infants under the age of 1 year; killed by the increasing spread of disease in our rapidly warming world.
In 2014 the UN body with responsibility for advising the governments of the world on the science relating to climate change warned that parts of Africa would suffer a 50% reduction in agricultural production by 2020 and by 2030 large parts of Asia, and particularly India, would suffer a 30% reduction in agricultural production.
To quote the famous NASA scientist, James Hansen, the holocaust had begun.
In October 2014 I was sufficiently certain that we now face mass loss of life that I wanted to give people the chance to at least say “not in my name”. I desperately didn’t want to go near the world of party politics but I joined the Green Party and asked for permission to stand in Southend West. There were lots of reasons why the Green Party was the best party to join and to make this stand (e.g. the tuition fees betrayal, the need to reintroduce fair taxation, the need to save our NHS from privatisation, the need to end austerity politics) but I won’t go into detail now.
By far the greatest issue on my mind was that the other candidates and parties standing in the Southend West constituency either supported the expansion of polluting industries or were determined not to take the steps that are necessary to prevent the mass loss of human life. So I made what was for me a huge personal sacrifice – I went into party politics.
As the holocaust begins I have at least given everyone in Southend West the chance to say: No!