Jonathon Porritt tried hard to prioritise questions from young people at his seminar last week, but age muscled in, with some self-declaring as young and others saying they'd brought a young person with them and so it was o for them to speak.
As it happened, the best question was the last one, and it was from a student; it was the one we'd all been thinking about. It went something like this:
"Is combatting climate change successfully going to be possible in our (neoliberal) economy?"
It's the question I ask myself whenever I find myself thinking we might be able to pull of the great escape from our climate problems. And I always ask it whenever I walk down New Street in Birmingham or Milsom Street in Bath amidst all that bubbling commerce. JP's response that we needed to break the link between economic growth and consumption by evolving different models of economic and social progress. Indeed.
Prior to that he'd talked about Project Drawdown, and about recarbonising the soil which would be good not only for soil (all that organic matter) but also for the planet (less CO2 in the atmosphere and ocean). There was an amazing statistic in all this which was that it would only need a 0.4% increase in the carbon content of each hectare of land to absorb all current CO2 generation. I'm still thinking about that.
In a post-Brexit world, farmers might be paid for this recarbonisation JP said. So might gardeners, I mused, as I tended my compost heaps this afternoon. On the other hand, composting, like virtue, is its own reward. There's more detail about all this and other sorts of agricultural innovation at CGIAR – a "global research partnership for a food secure future dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources". Incidentally, I've no idea what CGIAR stands for, but I have this persistent thought that it would have been better as CIGAR. It's France-based so maybe that the reason.
I'm stopping here while I'm being reasonably positive. Back to the compost.