Thursday, 18 August 2011

Tipping point with no easy answers

I've been listening to the BBC's Home Planet on the radio - each week the panellists answer questions sent in by listeners on natural history and broadly environmental questions.  It's fascinating stuff - sometimes the questions are "big" questions, quite often they're small, observational questions that make me look at things in a different way.

This week's show was recorded in front of a live audience from Faversham, and I was impressed that the first question was from a lady who identified herself as being part of Transition Faversham!  I got really excited at that point - nearly all the questions that followed were big questions, Transition questions - how can we cope with climate change, with peak oil; how can we promote local initiatives, a sense of pride in the community.  It felt like a tipping point - here were the questions we've been talking about or writing about over the last year or so - here on a national radio show, unapologetically bold about the challenges ahead.

But interestingly, the panel, normally so united when discussing migratory patterns of birds, the decline in bee populations, or uses for coppiced woodland, seemed miles apart and fractious too.  No-one disagreed on the basics - climate change is here to stay, peak oil is or will be a major issue that needs confronting.  But...  on the implications, on the shape of the future, on the options for mitigation or adaptation - these divided the panelists and gave a fascinating insight into something I observe nearly every days.  There are no easy answers; some solutions have problems of their own, some solutions just don't seem palatable to the rest of the population.  What to do?

One of the things I like about Transition is that it's a movement that evolves.  People try something.  If it works, they'll tell someone else.  The things that work improve, evolve as they're taken up.  Things that don't work so well are shelved until conditions change, when its own tipping point arrives.

It could have been easy to be disheartened by the lack of unity shown by the experts, but I was more cheered by the smartness of the audience.  They were asking good questions, big questions, and in asking them, they often framed the answers to their own questions.  Well worth listening to.

Pic: Graffiti on boarded up business, Tombland, Norwich

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