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Dr Kennedy Graham MP

Dr Kennedy Graham is a Green MP. After a distinguished diplomatic and academic career he is now Green spokesperson for lots of things (I summarise here as global issues).

Dr Graham describes his personal journey of working the diplomatic circles while the “people’s environmental movement” progressed from local to global concerns. The “crunch that is going to come” precipitated a move to a move activist role. The perfect storm of a massive increase in population, increasing individual consumption, and a social system entirely dependent on fossil fuels combine to mean we need to engender a massive change to how we live.

The nature of the challenge is unfortunately not reflected in public statements Dr Graham heard at the Rio 20 conference. He is disappointed by the ‘more of the same’ approach promoted by New Zealand’s Amy Adams. He is critical of the approach he describes at tinkering at the edges of a system that is fundamentally wrong. Indeed NZ’s formal position is one of no paradigm change.

Despite – or perhaps because of – a career in the diplomatic service, Dr Graham is critical of the structural dysfunctionality in the United Nations. Our global overshoot is a global problem, he says, “but we are attempting to solve it with 193 squabbling independent nation states all seeking to maximise their natural advantage against each other”. This “competitive pursuit guarantees ecological overshoot”.

We are, Graham says, in a “twilight zone that is part denial, part Gallic shrug of indifference, part catatonic fear”. We need to change how our species lives and our global machinery. We need to change our individual consumption.

Shane’s number of the week: 96%. That’s a 96% reduction in the use of supermarket plastic bags in Wales with the introduction of a small charge and the plastic bag becoming a social no no.

Shane’s other number of the week: 3215. That’s the number of records for the daily maximum temperature in the US in June.

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