Tuesday, 20 August 2013
While sleeping off the night’s excesses amid a mountain of uncollected bin bags in Brighton I was surprised to bump into local MP, Caroline Lucas, in the early hours of this morning. “Community Service?” I asked, surprised that the court system had acted so quickly after her Public Order offence arrest yesterday. “No,” she said, “this is my regular shift. The council pay double time on the bins after hours and I need to pay off the overdraft.”
Surprised that an MP would be short of cash and brought so low as to need a second job, I pressed her on the matter
“No, it’s this global overdraft.” she said and went on to explain that humans have used up all the natural resources the Earth can provide for the year and are now in 'overdraft'. Caroline explained that we are at 'earth overshoot day', and have exhausted supplies such as land, trees and fish and outstripped the planet's annual capacity to absorb waste products including carbon dioxide. According to the Global Footprint Network, for the rest of the year, the world is in ecological debt, with supplies depleted, land degraded and carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere
I gazed up at the fresh dawn skies and undepleted land and countered that I had never noticed the world shutting down after August before and asked, “What happens next year then? Does the planet get a fresh stock of resources every New Year’s Day?” Caroline wasn’t listening. Instead she was furiously tapping at her iPad to find the evidence. “See?” she said, showing me, “We should aim to be like Gabon!” I gazed at a graphic. Sure enough, Gabon is well into ecological credit
“But Gabon’s a low-population, fertile, oil-rich country isn’t it?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied, “but here in the west we have a massive energy deficit. We are running out of oil and gas and soon we won’t be able to keep the lights on!” Her voice had edged an octave higher and her trademark stridency was showing through. “In a decade we will be like a Third World. When democracy fails we must take direct action to save our country now!
“But they told us in 1973 that the oil would run out by 1990,” I said, adding “and they also said there would be a new ice age by the end of the last century. None of that happened. And anyway, we are sitting on a gazillion cubic metres of natural gas, right here in Britain.
Caroline pondered this for a moment. “But it’s deep underground, in the shale,” she said, ”our only option is renewables!” She gazed intently at her iPad screen and found the page she was looking for. “Look!” she said, displaying the National Grid page, where the combined might of our thousands of creaking wind turbines was currently supplying less than two percent of our off-peak energy consumption. “Oh…"
We sat there in silence for a few minutes, as seagulls soared overhead in the clear skies. High overhead an airliner left chalk-mark contrails on the blue canvas. “Windpower won’t get you on your holidays.” I suggested and with that she stood up, resolved. The screen on her iPad faded as her battery died. “Can I borrow your phone?” she asked, “I need to book a taxi for Balcombe.”
Caroline Lucas - doing it right!
I sighed. “Back to the picket line?” I asked.
“Frack that,” said Cazza, “I’m with Cuadrilla – We must Dash for Gas!”