I’m pleased to welcome back Shaun Chamberlin from the UK, after his arrest at the Extinction Rebellion action. Shaun advised groups from Chelsea Green Publishing to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. He co-authored a report to Parliament & co-founded Transition Town Kingston. Shaun heads the Fleming Policy Centre, and continues his seminal blog “Dark Optimism”. We talk about… everything.
Shaun explains why he, for the first time, put himself up for arrest at a major Extinction Rebellion rally late last year. He tells us “We were no longer willing to stand by and watch governments possibly end life on Earth in our name”. You can find his description of this arrest here.
During the protest, Shaun addressed a large crowd as they shut down one of the key bridges in London, with their bodies. But he faced a conundrum: “I honestly don’t think we are going to head off catastrophic climate change… so why was I there?” All through this interview you will find that cutting self-honesty which speaks for our own inner voices. He avoids the sugary false optimism that everything will be OK. Yet he is still trying, coming up with his own “Dark Optimism” – the title of his illuminating blog.
Shaun neatly describes the problem we all have: the two sides of ourselves: what society projects will happen versus what reality suggests. In my own case, even though I see a strong possibility of widespread chaos and collapse, I still try to protect my small savings in the bank – for my old age! Even though I know driving threatens my future, I still take a car to get groceries and supplies. Once we acquire knowledge of our real situation, from climate to plastics to toxic products, a double life is hard to avoid, isn’t it?
Because we are not acting to fend off dangerous climate change in time, and because the majority of animal life has already disappeared under our “civilization”, Shaun says “We need to build grief into the heart of the work that Extinction Rebellion is doing“.
DAVID FLEMING’S LEAN LOGIC
Shaun describes David Fleming as “a sort of elder in the ecological movement here in the UK“. David got a PhD in economy just to answer his critics. Unfortunately, David Fleming died suddenly in 2010, before he could publish his large dictionary of ecological wisdom and green economics. Shaun Chamberlin brought it together, releasing it as “Lean Logic – A Dictionary for the Future“. He also published a second book – a shorter guide to Fleming’s work, called “Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy“.
In December 2016, I rebroadcast an interview with Shaun Chamberlin about “Lean Logic”. That was by UK’s Greg Moffitt, host of the legalise-freedom.com podcast. Find all that, including the audio, here. The Fleming Policy Centre for the follow-up and study of David Fleming’s work can be found here.
SEE ALSO: This transcript of my 2010 interview with Shaun Chamberlin.
MARK BOYLE – THE MONEYLESS MAN
Actually, Shaun was in Ireland for this interview, visiting with his friend Mark Boyle, known as “the moneyless man”. Among Mark’s books are “The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living” and “The Moneyless Manifesto – Live Well, Live Rich, Live Free” with a foreword by Charles Eisenstein.
Mark Boyle questions whether solar or wind energy is really helping to save the planet at all. What are the complete carbon costs of making a solar panel, from rare metals, shipping it, the batteries, the works? Instead, Mark goes very low-tech, avoiding the avalanche of gadgets always dangled before our psyches, avoiding the things we are supposed to want.
Mark has a new book coming out in next month or two titled “The Way Home”. You can buy it in advance here. Or check out Mark’s video about the new book, on You tube.
MEET ENRIC DURAN “the Robin Hood of the Banks”
Also raised during the interview is a counter-culture “Robin Hood” known better in Europe than in North America. He is, according to Wikipedia… (I donate a little to Wikipedia, you should too if you use it)
“Enric Duran Giralt (born 23 April 1976, Vilanova i la Geltrú) also known as Robin Banks or the Robin Hood of the Banks is a Catalan anticapitalist activist and a founding member of the Catalan Integral Cooperative (CIC – Cooperativa Integral Catalana) and Faircoop.
On September 17, 2008, he publicly announced that he had ‘robbed’ dozens of Spanish banks of nearly half a million euros as part of a political action to denounce what he termed the predatory capitalist system.
From 2006 to 2008, Duran took out 68 commercial and personal loans from a total of 39 banks with no guarantees or property as collateral. He had no intention of repaying the debts, and used the money to finance various anti-capitalist movements. In 2008, Duran released both an online article entitled “I have “robbed” 492,000 euros from those who rob us the most, in order to denounce them and build alternatives for society” (translated), and an online video, each explaining what he had done and that he had left the country to view the reaction and consider his next move. This was also published in the free magazine Crisis, in Catalan, of which 200,000 copies were printed and distributed by volunteers throughout Catalonia.”
LEOPOLD KOHR -SMALL WORKS
As Shawn and I discuss political turmoil in the UK (we try to avoid talking much about Brexit) and in the U.S. (we also avoid Trump if we can) – Shawn says that big governments just don’t work. He raises the work of Leopold Kohr, new to me. Again Wikipedia:
“Leopold Kohr (5 October 1909 in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria – 26 February 1994 in Gloucester, England) was an economist, jurist and political scientist known both for his opposition to the “cult of bigness” in social organization and as one of those who inspired the small is beautiful movement. For almost twenty years, he was Professor of Economics and Public Administration at the University of Puerto Rico. He described himself as a “philosophical anarchist.” His most influential work was The Breakdown of Nations.”
CLIMATE MOBILIZATION ORGANIZATION
We agree, along with the United Nations and many scientists, that our crumbling ecologic base requires massive social action. One group working on that is the Climate Mobilization group.
PETER BUFFETT’S NOVO FOUNDATION
In a surprise to me, the son of one of the world’s richest people has discovered Shaun’s delivery of the work of the late David Fleming. You know the big investor Warren Buffett. His son Peter and wife Jennifer have established a credible foundation which has funded help for women and children, but also looks to redefine economics to work for everyone. You can find Peter Buffett’s NoVo Foundation here.
Peter Buffett, Philanthropist
Shaun tells us that Peter Buffett is handing out David Fleming’s posthumous work “Lean Logic” to everyone. Buffet even did a radio show in Kingston, New York, where is played parts of the audio version of Shaun’s book “Surviving the Future” every week. Peter Buffett is also an Emmy-Award-winning composer, and has film credits in the famous film “Dances With Wolves”.
If I understood Shaun correctly, Buffett has also helped with a film about Fleming’s work, called “The Sequel – What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilization?” That film now released for educational, environmental and transition groups to screen for a reasonable fee. Later it will be released on DVD no doubt. It is being distributed by Bull Frog Films, which is interesting in it’s own right.
Chamberlin tells us…
“With climate change we have three options: mitigation, adaptation, and suffering.”
Right now we choose the route of suffering, but maybe there are better ways, as David Fleming envisioned. That’s the Dark Optimism.
In the interview, Shaun gives us insight into the young climate phenomenon Greta Thunberg. I rebroadcast an interview with her last December, courtesy of Stuart Scott, and recorded at the COP meeting in Poland. Chamberlin met Greta at an Extinction Rebellion protest in the UK. He says her perspective as a person on the Asperger spectrum helps her see and tell truths that others cannot. Greta literally cannot bring herself to care for the destructive world we all inhabit. So she can describe us with a vision we cannot.
Shaun Chamberlin does have a Twitter feed, but it can be sparse lately. He is trying to withdraw from the electronic mirage to find action in reality. Probably your best bet, after looking through his penetrating blog posts, is to sign up for Shaun’s mailing list here.
TAKING DOOM TOO FAR?
Shaun and I agree that some people are taking doom too far, too fast, almost like a contest to draw attention. For example, at first Professor Emeritus Guy McPherson predicted humans would be extinct by 2035. Now I think his prediction is down to nine more years for us all, or less. Then we have Sam Carana, and presumably Malcolm Light publishing a chart of how humans could go extinct by the year 2021, like two years from now.
I appreciate the Arctic-news blog. They often lead us to important new science, but I don’t agree with that logic. Most of their forecast of near-term human extinction is based on the work of just two scientists. One, Natalia Shakhova, warned that conditions are developing in the warming Arctic seas that COULD release 50 gigatones of methane into the skies at any time. As I understand her brief warning, that would require an undersea landslide in a region known to have methane frozen at the bottom of the sea.
Like an earthquake or an asteroid hit, that COULD happen… tomorrow, or five thousand years from now. We don’t know, and I think it’s a thin basis for utter panic. We have plenty to panic about, even without such an extreme event. Our continuing fossil fuel emissions, and changes to the ecosphere are already creating the sixth mass extinction. If we continue in this way, humans may not escape that extinction event. Nobody knows if we will make it, or if we don’t, when the time of our last consciousness might come.
The Australian biologist Corey Bradshaw said on a recent Radio Ecoshock show: we could join a procession of extinction, eventually, due to “co-extinction” – which is the less considered interlocking dependency of species. Bradshaw also suggests we may see a mass reduction of human population, one way or another. Is that worth talking about?
THE AGE OF STUPID CONTINUES!
I wrap up this show with a mish-mash of terrific sounds from two sources. The makers of the classic 2009 film “The Age of Stupid” just released a 10 minute short update for the 10th anniversary. Director Franny Armstrong and Spanner Films created a rich new tapestry, available on Itunes, Amazon, and most other spaces, cheap. Plus, the Guardian newspaper did their own 11 short-film update, available on Youtube. They visit with kids, George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and more, – asking how are we doing now, ten years later? I play short samples from both.
“From David Hill, the 10th Anniversary of the film “The Age of Stupid” comes this short film that projects another Earth-like planet, called Earthly, that receives the bad news from space: the ecology of the original Earth has collapsed. Can this other society act in time to save themselves?”
“Exactly 10 years to the day since its solar-powered, green-carpet, Guinness World record-breaking premiere in London’s Leicester Square The Age of Stupid is re-released on March 15th 2019 on BBC, Amazon Prime, iTunes and Google Play.”
Watch The Age of Stupid 10th Anniversary film, called “What If?” here on Vimeo.
In the Guardian short film they meet again with Mark Lynas in his garden shed. He talks about the key role of 2 degrees. He said it needed to be stabilized by 2015. “We’re heading to 4,5,6 degrees… ” he says. We need to be net zero by 2050, and then go negative, removing carbon from the atmosphere.
They meet George Monbiot at a rally, where he exclaims even our own children, – we are prepared to sacrifice them. George calls for revolution.
“This is our life support system, and we’re ripping it up!”
Then a little kid rips out our hearts by saying “If we don’t do it, I’m not going to have a very nice future, I guess.”
And for heaven’s sake support the Guardian newspaper in the UK. Only the Guardian is asking the hard questions of the right people. Wherever you are in the world, the Guardian really is the guardian for a lot of truth, uncomfortable or not. theguardian.com
We are all out of time – for this week. I’m Alex Smith. Your financial support is all that keeps me going. Sadly, there is no billionaire who has discovered Radio Ecoshock, or at least none has come forward. Small donations from listeners pay all the bills. I really appreciate everyone who has helped.
Thank you for listening, and caring about our world.