Thursday, 18 November 2010

Green Teams, Best Books and a Teen Movie

A big "Thank You" from me to the Centrica / British Gas Green Teams, for inviting me to open their annual Forum at the Energy Academy in Leicester today. I was given half an hour to explain why the environment, and sustainability, is so important to me - and to run through the current status of our knowledge of climate change and biodiversity. What an opportunity - and what a reception! I enjoyed meeting so many of you afterwards and discussing particular points that had caught your attention. My presentation, together with the References for each slide, will be on your intranet site and I hope you will also have my library of public-domain reports that will help you to drill down into any areas that interest you.

In my humble opinion, anybone wanting to read some particularly accessible books on climate change could do no better than these titles - available from all good bookshops!

1) "What's the Worst that could Happen" by Greg Craven, a science teacher from Oregon who posted a famous series of common-sense videos on YouTube that became the biggest hit in 2008.

2) "The Last Generation" by Fred Pearce, an immensely readable overview of the science and forecasts.

3) "The Hot Topic" by Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King, former Chief Scientist.

3) "Do good lives have to cost the Earth?" edited by Andrew Simms and Joe Smith. Essays from many famous commentators.

4) For unsurpassed insight into the demographic and political issues, with the best attempt at regulatory solutions, "Hot, Flat and Crowded" by Thomas L. Friedman was President Obama's holiday reading in 2009.

5) For the best photographs, "An Inconvenient Truth" by you know who.

6) To hear it from the horse's mouth, "Storms of my Grandchildren" by James Hansen pulls no punches.

7) To understand the global movement of our everyday goods, "Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Travels to where my stuff comes from" by Fred Pearce is an eye-opening travelogue of the sources and sinks of modern consumer goods.

8) "How Bad are Bananas" is a light-hearted number-crunch through "the carbon footprint of everything", by Mike Berners-Lee. Mike is an unbeatable sustainability consultant - his company, Small World consulting, put together the Guardian's excellent, "Quick Carbon Calculator".

9) Lastly, the definitive guide to reducing our impact is "How to Live a Low Carbon Life" (2nd Edition) by Chris Goodall. Chris writes Carbon Commentary, which is a much better blog than this one, and his books are just about the last word in meticulously researched advice for sustainable living.

Tomorrow is a very special day for young climate campaigners.

Beyond the Brink is a young filmmaker’s take on the climate change debate. 18-year-old Ross Harrison spent a year chasing up experts, studying the news and filming to create a short documentary that answers the ever-pressing questions, Are we really causing climate change? and Who cares?

The result is a 40 minute film about the knowns and the unknowns of the science, about the risks, and about being hopeful for the future too. Interviews with Sir David Attenborough, Mark Lynas, David Shukman, Prof Dieter Helm, the UK Youth Climate Coalition, and Ross’ grandparents among others, offer fresh perspectives on a subject that saturates the media, divides the public, and yet is still meaningless to many.

At a time when people feel overloaded by hype and put off by scandals, Beyond the Brink seeks to lay out how things really stand now. Beyond the Brink is a not-for-profit production available for free for anyone to watch and use. Please let us know if you intend to screen it.

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