Speech to BANES Council

Good evening everybody,

I am a writer, researcher and teacher. I live in Bath.

The Emergency Transition, to a new Human System, has begun.

The new system is more compatible with our professed morality. The system would not be damaging to human life, with the elimination of moral poverty, excess consumption, and systemic morbidity and premature death. Such a system would, given the starting point, minimise mass extinction, climate breakdown, environmental breakdown, and be adapted to locked-in changes. The threat from environmental breakdown and nuclear annihilation would likewise be, given the starting point, minimised.

To effect the changes required in the time available is going to require an extraordinary level of mobilisation by all institutions and households. A number of writers uses the example of the Second World War, just about in living memory, as a guide to its order of magnitude. It is though a peculiar moment : the main task of the next 12 to 24 months is to secure the participation of our major national governments and states, which have been criminally negligent at best. I believe this will be achieved once sufficient of the public, in all classes, comes to understand the ‘extreme danger’ we are all in, to use the phrase of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a few years ago. Whilst the Head of State, Downing Street, and the national government, and major public and private media institutions – the BBC, and the press, above all – continue to fail in their responsibility in this regard, new civil society institutions like Extinction Rebellion, the Youth Strike 4 Climate, Fridays For Future, and Birth Strike movements, and myriad new coalitions will soon achieve the same end. A sea change is upon us. It is truly extraordinary to see our children leading us to safety. Citizens are, in turn, about to discover how extraordinary they are, and what they are capable of. I suggest you respond in kind. Let’s discover what an extraordinary effort by a local authority, a Council, and councillors looks like, and can achieve. Nothing less will do; nor will it be accepted.