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Amy in Conversation with Mike Berners-Lee

December 19th, 2023

In November, Amy appeared at The Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, in conversation with climate scientist Mike Berners-Lee. They discussed the challenges of waking the world up to the climate crisis and strategies to help us cope at an individual level. The evening was a charity fundraiser for Carers’ Support, South Cumbria, and attracted a great audience.

Mike presented some sobering data from his book “There is No Planet B”, highlighting the insatiable global demand for energy and resulting carbon emissions. These continue to accelerate in spite of 27 COPs and the IPCC’s warnings about the dangers of surpassing 1.5 degrees of warming, currently expected in only 6 years. Mike is writing a new book, “Climate Politics and Why Honesty Matters”. He explained why it is vital for us to be led by politicians who are honest, if we are to have any hope of fixing the climate crisis. Fake news, greenwashing and corruption will only lead to delayed action.

In conversation with Mike, Amy explained the philosophy behind Another Way’s Power of Ten movement and why we as individuals holds enormous power: “If one person were to tell ten people a message on one day and the next day those ten people told ten more and so on, it would only take ten days for the whole world to be inspired.”

Mike asked Amy how she manages the psychology of climate change. Amy admitted to feeling a huge amount of grief, but also described how she has learnt the importance of doing inner work to help us cope. She uses a Japanese concept called ikigai which means “life purpose”. She explained, “Imagine a Venn diagram and the intersect between what you are good at and love doing, what the world needs and what you can be paid for as well – this is your ikigai. For me, finding things that give me energy and joy prevent me from burning out.”

Amy asked Mike how he is able to keep informed without feeling too overwhelmed. Mike’s solution is to not concentrate on the grisly detail, but to understand the broad perspective. His philosophy: “There is no point saving a world that is no fun to live in… If you push something to the back of your mind and pretend it isn’t there, that will weigh you down… whereas if you face it and you look at it properly and then you get moving on something, that feels much better. When humanity wakes up en masse, life will feel so much fresher.”

Amy and Mike agreed that nurturing compassion is critical to fixing this crisis. Further, imagining what a green future could be gives us the biggest opportunity we have ever had to transform society. Instead of being fed fears about what we would have to do without, we should focus on the opportunities to improve our quality of life.

The evening ended with questions from the audience, ranging from expectations of COP28, the problems of over-fishing and whether the speakers had hope for their children. Amy ended by describing hope. “Hope is a “doing” word, and we can all put hope into action through our choices, through our influence. If all of us agree on creating hope, then yes, I do think we can turn this around and it is never too late because every fraction of a degree does matter, and so our collective actions in this room will matter.”

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