Later this week people in the UK including me will have a chance to vote in a general election #GE2015. The outcome of this vote will change directly what happens in the next five years, which in turn will alter what happens beyond that. It will affect everyone in the UK and beyond. I want to use my final blog before the election to share the one idea which more than anything else has informed my vote. Please do read and share this one last thing before Thursday.
What happens in the future will not simply be a linear continuity of the past. Both the challenges we face in the coming years and the solutions we need to turn these from threats into opportunities are not simple continuations of past processes. How we vote on Thursday should reflect this.
What on earth am I talking about? My thinking about the future has been radically altered by trying to understand the natural systems, particularly the climate, upon which our wellbeing depends. For reasons I’ve described elsewhere our health depends on having a stable climate. I have written previously about the startling and under appreciated scale of the climate threat and the related opportunity presented by the scale of response we need to make to avoid the worst of this. But its only recently that I’ve really thought about the non-linear nature of this change, thought about what the presence of feedback loops and tipping points means for our environment and the impacts this will have on our societies. ‘Tipping points’ is jargon for a point at which a system, in this case the Earth’s environment, moves from one state into another, in this case a higher temperature one with a different climate to which we haven’t designed our lives for. This is scary stuff as, as far as I can tell, we don’t really know exactly where they will occur and how they will interact with each other and us. We won’t move gradually to a world which is harder to live in but move through as series of more shocking steps. This is what is behind the idea of planetary boundaries which were set based on a precautionary principle and trying to define safe threshold below which tipping points were very unlikely to occur.
The counter to the pessimism which a recognition of the non linear nature of the threats we face can produce is the realisation that this means the solutions also need to be non linear. It follows therefore that if the solutions can be designed in a way which also addresses the other problems we care about such as health issues or social inequality then these can be addressed on a previously unimaginable scale. This is the premise of Naomi Klein’s recent book This Changes Everything.
So back to this election. I have long seen this election as just the sort of potential social turning point we need to start the radical social transformation which the sums of climate change demand. But this isn’t what we’ve been hearing from most of our politicians. Our political system of ‘first past the post’ doesn’t help, nor does the dominance of the mainstream media by a limited number of powerful individuals. But the great thing about the 21st century is we don’t need to depend on traditional media or historically dominant political parties. We can choose to think differently. We can choose to acknowledge the challenges and opportunities we know the future will hold for us and we can vote accordingly. 24hrs is a long time in our connected modern world. There is only one poll that matters and that is the one on the 7th May.
It is up to each voter to decide where they want to place their cross on Thursday. This blog just asks that before you do that you ask yourself which person and party best understands that the future is not a simple continuation of the past. Things will be different and we need politicians who understand this.
Personally I am going to vote for the Green Party. They are the only mainstream party in England which I think understands this. Across their policies they present the sort of system wide step change we need for a really good future. They are the only party presenting a future I want for myself, for my children and for everyone.
Postscript: I have never prior to the last year been involved in politics but I joined the Green Party as part of the recent #GreenSurge and have supported them since then. This blog has been written independently without input from anyone within the party. These views are my own.