Almost Solstice Sunset, 19th December 2014
This year I'm sending everyone I work with a selection of this year's photos from my sanity-inducing rambles (below). Unfortunately I've been so busy that I've been unable to produce no more than a handful of 'real' cards for hand delivery. And given I've this seemingly infinite electronic space to convey a few thoughts, I thought I'd share a little more with you about my year.
What a year... Neither good nor bad but somewhere unintelligibly off the scale.
For me 2014 didn't "start" – it was merely a continuation of 2013 without a break.
Fracking continued to intensify as a media issue, and more people wanted me to tour and talk about it. Problem is, fracking does not pay the bills (from the consultancy point of view, it's probably the worst decision I ever made) – so I've also had to pack in a lot of other activities to try and raise some money. That really has meant burning some long hours to keep up.
The high points of 2014? I could talk about so much – especially some of the really interesting people and groups I worked with/stopped with on my tours. Instead I'll limit myself to just a few points:
Last year I started a new thread looking at "pervasive technology", illustrated via a workshop I call "Phones, Drones and Self-Driving Automobiles". That produced some really good public workshops over the year. The chapter I wrote for an edition – World in Chains: The Impact of Nuclear Weapons and Militarisation from a UK Perspective – last year was also published in June. I also was asked to speak at the "Croughton Peace Festival" this year.
The most enjoyably surreal bit was probably the Talk Fracking Tour; a week on a rock 'n' roll tour bus with Vivienne Westwood and a bunch of really switched-on new media types. It was made yet more surreal by meeting a whole spectrum of people, from Jon Snow to Bez and the Reality Party, as we went from Nottingham, to Manchester, to Swansea, to London. That gig also got me invited to "Hack-the-Frack", where hackers and activists got together to think up digital tools to support anti-fracking campaigns (apart from a digital mapping project, I provided the title for the game they poduced, "Frackman").
Walking – obviously! I led some walks this year, a couple of times to the Adderbury Gathering, as well as Wychwood. A lot of "nice" walks, although the most extraordinary day was probably the 14 miles around the Ironbridge Gorge and then over the Wrekin to Wellington – excellently edible chestnuts!
Went to a couple of really good festivals this year. The Green Gathering, as usual (book your tickets ASAP and I'll see you there in 2015!). Also a new one, the Frack Free South Wales Festival in a absolutely gorgeous ravine (on a former railway line) in near Upper Cwm Twrch. Even weirder, I acquired the label, "Fracktivist No.1" as an acknowledgement that I've probably, since mid-2009, been doing this the longest in Britain.
Did a couple of big local government oriented conferences on fracking. The first, in London, was interesting. The second, in Salford Quays, saw me talking in a room full of suits explaining the relationship between ecological limits, low growth, and the perceived imperative to frack the last dregs of fossil fuels from the ground.
So – what about 2015?
A book – I sincerely hope. All I have to do is find the time which, this year, has been in such short supply.
A tour – absolutely. Probably around March/April. If those who haven't got in touch about dates for a visit next year want me to see them in the Spring then get in touch soon! The calendar is already filling up.
And fracking? I honestly think it's collapsing. The Ponzi scheme in the US has already started to collapse, with $billions of losses already racked up by investment houses. In the UK I'm hoping that the Government will finally announce the 14th Round Licences so I can get on and work with the communities involved – but yet again they're stalling. It just doesn't work, but they've invested so much political capital they're committed to going through with it – unless the May 2015 election changes the political landscape and the whole policy gets binned.
Finally, next year I'll continue talking about fracking, but hopefully not as intently as in the past. I'll also continue the work on technology, drones, surveillance, etc. However, I want to resurrect one of my older themes, "Less is a Four Letter Word". If there's one thing I can say about 2014, we've had an avalanche on new research on the links between low growth, ecological limits, and the shift towards more extreme forms of 'unconventional' energy and resource production. In mid to late 2014 I want to start to expand upon that because, fairly soon, I think we're going to see an indefatigable case that the 'Limits to Growth' are biting down on the global economy – and the only way to get around that is unconventional economics, not unconventional technologies.
So, however you spend your late December time off – spiritually, non-spiritually, pickled in alcohol and/or other interesting substances, or just wrapped in a duvet with a book – have a nice break.
I won't, because I'm writing something for a Commons Committee inquiry; but I'd like to think that someone else in the environment movement can have some time off, allowing them to take over should I ever blow a fuse!
Resolutions? None in particular for me. Would be nice to hug my guitar a little more and make some noise, if only to stop it glowering across the office at me. Walking – hopefully more than in 2014. Other than that, everything's negotiable – as happened this year, I'll take whatever opportunities arise and I'll be amazed to see where I am this time next year.
Mainly, just be. Be still as you can. Observe, and study what is going on around you – and then follow your conscience to do what you can to make it better.
Peace 'n' love 'n' lengthening days,