Green Momentum

People along the broad frontier of radical pluralism
Positive socio-environmental change is happening in Britain—a skim through recent progress.

Rewilding is not only being seriously discussed, it’s happening. Beavers are back in Scotland and wild in England. Lynx may soon follow as a range of stakeholders recognise benefits and negligible risks — lynx are wary of humans and unlikely to target livestock; instead they are a natural predator for deer, numbers of which are wholly out of control.

The fossil fuel divestment campaign is gathering momentum as new campuses, councils and cities commit to divesting their holdings almost daily.

The spectacular growth in Green Party membership in the first quarter of 2015 leveraged the opening up of the election debates to all party leaders.

“The Greens have … dozens of inspiring and transformative ideas that have far greater potential to inflame public passions than Labour’s dismal offerings. The same can be said of both Plaid Cymru and the SNP.”

This breadth made the election debates considerably more engaging, but more importantly represents a genuine shift in voting preferences as pluralistic, idealistic younger citizens make their voices heard. And they’re not the only ones thoroughly dissatisfied with the massive waste of effort inherent in the old one-dimensional, adversarial political system. The days of metronomic swinging between the polar opposites of left and right, each spending their time undoing the work of the previous incumbents, are going, if not gone.

Still on politics, who was it that restricted the Scottish independence referendum question choice to only yes or no? Who promised more devolution if Scotland voted no? Who’s reaping what they sowed now as most of Scotland’s 59 constituencies turn SNP and the English political field opens up? I disagree with Scottish Labour who are trying to frighten voters about voting SNP: it will not hand the election to the Conservatives; they likely still won’t have enough seats to form a working majority. What’s much more interesting is that, with neither Labour nor the Conservatives likely to get enough seats for a working majority, alliances will have to be formed — another welcome step toward pluralism. The only thing holding it back now is our defunct political representation system.

“This election is likely to throw up anomalies that will be hard to ignore. UKIP could win 10 percent of the national vote and get three seats or fewer, while the SNP might get 40 seats for just 3 percent of the vote because its support is concentrated in fewer constituencies.”

This is not cause for tactical voting. With a long view, this means more than ever that it’s time to vote for what you believe and that should include political reform.
Which political party best represents your views?

Fracking is subject to a moratorium in Scotland and huge resistance elsewhere in Britain.

Ethical consumer markets continue to grow, despite the austerity programme, which isn’t working in any case.

Highlights from the 2013 Ethical Consumer Markets Report:
• Ethical food and drink saw strong growth of 8% and is now worth almost £9 billion.
• Sales of electric, hybrid car tax Band A vehicles increased by 78% and sector is now worth £4.9 billion
• Sales of free range eggs increased by 19% to almost £622 million
• Sales of sustainable fish increased by 17% to £412 million
20% of the UK population is now actively boycotting specific products or retail outlets as a result of their ethical concerns
• Almost three million shoppers now actively boycotting companies over their tax avoidance policies
• Ethical money invested in banking, investments, credit unions and ethical share issues increased by 6%

People are more aware of ethical issues and are working to influence improvements: buying sustainable goods and boycotting anti-social business practices such as tax avoidance and excessive directors’ pay. Where they’re not, campaigners are changing companies’ behaviours, and increasing political activism for governmental power aligned with our values.

“While consumers play a central role in contributing [to] deforestation through their purchasing decisions, they are difficult to influence at scale. Therefore many campaigners increasingly target companies in hopes of ensuring greener choices for consumers whether they know it or not. … Some environmentalists believe that corporate sourcing standards — provided they are effectively implemented and monitored — could eventually serve as a leverage point to push governments to adopt policies.”

Big conservation organisations like the National Trust and RSPB are shifting their focus increasingly toward reconnecting people with nature, where previously their strategic emphasis was on policy, science and technology. How do you change people’s minds? You reframe the debate so it becomes something they care about. Those who prefer sound argument can hear how climate change and the state of our environment underpin every other issue we are concerned about as citizens — economy, health care, housing, security, etc. Others may prefer to spend time in nature and undergo that fundamental personal shift toward reconnection.

While most of the public may not be directly concerned about biodiversity, wildlife and water pollution, they’re worried about their kids eating chemicals (Interview with Tony Juniper in the Vegetarian magazine, Spring 2015). Do they want to completely rebuild their worldview, or make gradual, informed change in their choices?

Balancing all these approaches: micro and macro, activism and personal lifestyle changes; pressing forward on all frontiers is encouragingly progressive.

Arne Naess, the Norwegian philosopher, introduced ‘radical pluralism’ to describe the broad frontier along which we are gradually acting en masse, as an alternative to the fear, disempowerment and frustration of the absolutist view. “Arne Naess stresses that the frontier is long within the deep ecology movement, and that we must understand and support approaches which are different from our own.”


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