these issues or to take the bold actions required to address them, missing opportunities to harness the very best of our potential.
But if it is inappropriate to let 2013 pass without remembering these events, it would be equally inappropriate to enter 2014 without remembering our obligation to be ambitious. ‘It always seems impossible until it is done’. This lesson was underscored by a recent presentation by Matthew Carter of CAFOD to our External Advisory Board on their efforts in the Philippines. The challenges he highlighted were vast – and go much deeper than those expressed in newspaper headlines – and yet he also identified numerous mechanisms by which we can become better and examples where he has seen the transformative impact of such efforts.
Of course, the New Year is traditionally a time of reflection and hope, and perhaps I am guilty of misplaced optimism. And to be brutally honest, I do not believe our capacity for voluntary change is sufficient to avert our fossil fuel dependency and the consequential climate change (although we must not stop trying). But I would also argue that as devastating as the environmental challenges we face might be, they are not ‘apocalyptic’. We better understand those challenges than we did a decade ago and are making sharper predictions; we are developing new tools to deliver clean water and build new resilience to hazards; we have new, albeit controversial, approaches for increasing food production. It is a battle to be fought, not one from which to cower in helplessness.
|Juliet Biggs setting up a receiver in Ethiopia to|
monitor the caldera where geothermal energy
can be extracted. See page 10 of our magazine
for more information. Image by Nicola Temple.
That is illustrated by the Cabot Institute and the people of Bristol, where I am fortunate to be working aside some of the most passionate and intelligent people in the world. I learn things every day. I am inspired every day. We are supporting new initiatives across Bristol to transform the energy efficiency of our homes. As central government austerity measures bite, local communities are coming together to support food banks and develop local solutions for food and energy. Small businesses, government and academics, especially in Bristol and South West England, are striving to decarbonise our energy supply. And our efforts are not limited to our own backyard. We (the Cabot Institute) are working with industry and government to harness geothermal energy in Ethiopia (full story on page 10 of our magazine), to help sustenance farmers in Africa identify animal parasites at the early stages of infection, and using drone technology to assist with the management of natural disasters, including the Fukushima clean-up.
European Green Capital. We will lead in understanding the nature and consequences of global environmental change. We will bring new voices into the conversation, including businesses and organisations at the sharp edge of climate change. And we will invest in the education, welfare and resilience of our local and global communities. If all of us confront these challenges, then we will forge new partnerships, stimulate new conversations and create new ideas.
And new solutions.