“Why I quit my job to fight climate change”

By John Bell

My name is John Bell.  I am a father and am happily married, have a mortgage, a “normal” 9 to 5 job (working in the rail industry).  So far so normal: so every day.

Until recently.  I have done something unthinkable – I have quit my job.  I have no other job to go to, and didn’t leave due to stress and was not pushed.  In the current economic climate, why would someone leave a comfortable, steady job, especially with a young family and no other earnings in the household?

For me the reason was that I have become more and more aware of the dangers of climate change, and more and more aware of the ineffectual nature of the response that we are making as a species to this incredible threat.

I can’t just carry on as normal, be one of those zombies traipsing to work every day, being a cog in the system that perpetuates this potentially disastrous sequence of events.  I just wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t do something about it.

I have just read a very short article in the London Metro describing an interview that Prince Charles did on ITV’s This Morning recently.  He evidently feels exactly the same.  I have been involved with the Transition movement for the last few years, and know many others who feel similarly.

I have also talked to many people, many other ordinary folk, and have realised that the vast majority are not aware of the reality of the problem, not aware of the extent of the potential damage or of the changes we will need to make.  Either that or they are aware, but do not believe in their own ability to do anything meaningful about it.

So, I have resolved to put my back into trying to change that.  I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I am starting out on it with optimism and my head held high.

I’m going to concentrate on showing what can be done and how that is an improvement over the status quo. I’m going to focus my time in Berkhamsted with the Transition Town. In that way we can get on with making the necessary changes without the need to butt up against climate change dogma (pro or anti).

I will publicise what we do to show to the wider world what is possible. Optimistically, this will give others who want to do the same an example to draw upon and the motivation to take steps forward themselves. Pessimistically, it will highlight how our systems are geared up to stall progress. Either way, it will be a move forward.

At the same time, I recognise that motivating around benefits only might not provide the pace of change needed. When Hitler was threatening to invade Britain, Churchill didn’t motivate us to build lots of spitfires by extolling the economic benefits to the aerospace industry (although it did have that side effect).

So I will do my own research into quantifying the effects of climate change and what the size of the response needed will look like. I will engage with individuals and organisations to see what can be done to provide an unbiased, objective, peer-reviewed source of information that is known as the place to go for information on climate change.

To publicise widely I will use social media and will expand the audience of the blog via my new contacts with other organisations. I’ve got some ideas for publicity stunts to draw attention – how about a mass walk to London, or a very public open bet on the reality of climate change?

All in all, the aim is to get on with the move to a low-carbon future, and to show just how attractive that future is. I’m looking forward to it, are you?

I’d love to hear what you think, good or bad.

Get in touch with John and follow his progress on his website – we’ll be featuring a column from him on RTCC every month

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