Browning said “I trust in nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility. Spring shall plant and autumn garner to the end of time.” But reflecting on this turbulent past year makes one question this apparently self evident truth.
Is the global economic upheaval a wake up call about greed and over consumption or something more fundamental – perhaps our last chance to step back from the brink of disaster. It is taken as a given that what is needed is to return to the levels of growth we saw during the previous decade. But is that not to ignore the evidence that we simply cannot go on as we have done – whether it is increasing shortages of water, peak oil or global warming shouldn’t the solution be a different, more frugal way of living?
We all agree that we need to play our part in making a difference but I cannot help but wonder if we – by which I mean politicians of all parties and nations - are missing the point – marginal increases in the rate of recycling or an hour long switch off – however worthy – are mere pin pricks when what we need to do is throw out centuries of conventional wisdom and seek to eke out scarce resources by abandoning the very notion of consumerism?
Are Greenwich councillors thinking along the same lines? Are they aware of peak oil as a (the) major issue alongside climate change, and are they considering steps to prepare for its effects? Have they read the the recent report 'Preparing for Peak Oil: Local Authorities and the Energy Crisis' (pdf file)? It would be great to hear from them what their perspective is.