Monday 10 November 2014

Are we marginalising Green?

I presented at a workshop 'History and Climate Change' this weekend on 'Archivism, activism and Climate change' - more about the conference here, and collation of tweets, info here.  My presentation, which was on the lines of 'children and climate change' was placed at the very end, which was good, discussed along with presentations on 'feminist & queer histories and climate change', 'Disabled people and climate change'.

The discussion I found particularly interesting, although perhaps a little concerning.  The debate appears to have somewhat moved on from, 'is there climate change?' to 'how do we cope with changed climate'; my concerns were the 'difference' or more accurately 'differentiating' between the various factions within the broader Green movement, which weakens resolve to action.

I understand that 'alternative' communities, and people on the edges of society are often responsible for progressive thinking which leads to radical change.  But is there a danger that an ethical, progressive 'alternative' label is lionised, while the 'omnivorous consumer' mainstream is pilloried as unethical and selfish?  In a world of multiple identities, is it not possible to think 'Green' and still hold other identities, 'alternative' or not?

Looking back (as was at the workshop) to the Suffragette and Suffragist movements, it is hard to tell which approach was more effective, but change only happened when the principle of suffrage was accepted by 'the mainstream'.  Suffrage ceased to be an 'alternative' view of radicals, and became part of a shared ethics and world view.  Similar comparisons can be made with the battle to outlaw slavery, whic you could argue worked directly against the metaphorical 'omnivorous consumers' of the time.

I'm sure there are many other historical comparisons to make, which reiterate that it is neither helpful or accurate to consider the 'omnivorous consumer' as less ethical or progressive.  Indeed change can only happen when we, a collection of progressives, conservatives (small c), omnivorous or otherwise, work together.

It is only when a significant number of people, rather than clinging to their own 'selfish' agenda, work together, recognise and meet shared ambitions.  Then change, to meet our changed climate, can really be made.

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