I had a perfect vision of heaven the other day looking over the River Avon. There was a spring tide on a clear crisp morning and Pill’s colourful houses made faultless reflections on the water. Fishing boats tied up on the dock at Shirehamption lent an air of worthy toil and couples walking along the coastal path below looked absorbed in the stillness of the moment. A touch of mist cemented the sense of peace across the scene.
Then I turned around behind me to the pure unadulterated hell of the six lane motorway thundering its way over the creaky M5 bridge. Biblical authors could have used it to instruct their readers on what might happen to the ungodly. You get to stand between the lanes for eternity dodging smoking lorries, speeding cars and swaying caravans with your ears and nose saturated with the permanent racket and smell of straining diesel motors, horns and sirens.
It set me thinking about the options of what our environment could look like in our climate changed future, and what choices we are making to get there. I heard David Attenborough telling us a while back we could quite easily wreck it and as I looked at the traffic nightmare it was hard not to think that is what we are doing. I wondered how interested we really are in making all those houses with the beautiful reflection so well insulated there was no need for fossil fuel heating, how dedicated we really are to sustainable transport, to self sufficient communities and food production and to organizing work to be only a bicycle ride away.
Do you remember that famous Pastor Neimoller poem where he doesn’t speak out for the communists, trade unionists and Jews when the Nazis come for them because he wasn’t one, but when they came for him there was nobody left to speak for him? Sometimes I feel it’s a bit like that with climate change. We know its certainty and likely outcome but we don’t really do much about it because in the end we see it as someone else’s problem.
Sure, most of our political and business leaders are not providing the information or leadership that will bring about the behavioural and technical changes we need to be making now, but we elect them and buy their stuff. There are so many things we could choose to do or demand, big and small, which would make a difference. It could be something to do with transport, household energy, purchasing power, waste and recycling, food production or politics. Why not write to Bishopston Voice telling us what you are doing and inspire us to try it as well?
One of a regular series of articles, written by Sustainable Redland founder Hamish Wills.
It was published in Bishopston Voice in March 2019.