Monday, 25 September 2006

An Inconvient Truth comes to Nottingham

Nottingham's art-house cinema, Broadway, screened An Inconvenient Truth on Friday evening preceding a panel debate on climate change. The film, I thought, was a polished communications project from a man who has spent much of his career speaking in public arenas. But what Al Gore had to say was inspiring, thought-provoking, and perhaps for the first time, accessible to a wider audience. He has the passion for life that GWB dismisses and goes to great lengths to crush.

Essentially politics has let us down. Politics in the sense that whilst scientists have discovered, politicians have denied, challenged, ignored and suppressed. In all this time glaciers have fallen into the sea, lands have been flooded and people have starved.

And the climate change debate on a micro scale in Nottingham reflected people's frustrations. Why if global warming has been recognised for so many years do the local authorities continue to advocate unsustainable construction, widening of motorways and incineration facilities?

There are very passionate and concerned people in Nottingham and indeed throughout the UK but they are rarely offered an opportunity to voice their views on what happens in our country. And the sad truth is that the majority of the audience at the Broadway on Friday is striving to make changes in their lives to tackle the impact of climate change, but ultimately realises that unless the majority of the population change their behaviour and consumption habits, we can’t make the differences that we strive for. I guess this is where we look up to the authorities to tell us how they will change things and how they will communicate to those who are unaware of the situation. And I genuinely believe that people just don’t realise what is going on, or at least how to change their behaviour. And from some of the responses on the panel, I don’t even think they really knew either! One panelist even dropped in the importance of globalisation in the response to the widening of the M1! Suddenly the scales appeared before our very eyes: the planet in one, and gold bars in the other!

The event was a great opportunity to find out how people felt about the challenges of climate change and also a rare chance to present these to the powers that be. However, there was also a certain element of preaching to the converted. We were told by one panel member that each of us is responsible for changing our habits and that it wasn't just the responsibility of the authorities. Wise words apart from the fact that the audience already is adapting their lives to fight climate change.

Nottingham wants to be a leading city in tackling climate change - and we have our very own Al Gore in the form of Alan Simpson, Labour MP who introduced the movie on Friday. Al Simpson, I know is genuinely dedicated to this cause and I know because I have seen his eco-home during architecture week. May be Alan Simpson can speak some sense to these local authority leaders who claim to possess political will, but can't seem to translate this into political action.

Anyway, it was great to see passions run high and people saying what they think, as this so rarely happens. (Hooray for the wind turbine guy at the front!!).

As I write, it has emerged that 20 environmental activists have broken onto the tarmac at Nottingham East Midlands Airport in protest against aviation fuelled climate change. It seems that the debate is hotting up...

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