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Bookmark and ShareAndy Wimbush is nef‘s Communications Assistant and blogmaster.

Writer and filmmaker Ann Danylkiw was at The Bigger Picture: Festival of Interdependence on Saturday, camera in hand. In this video, Ann gets the low down about Ration Me Up and the Ministry of Trying to Do Something About It from artist Clare Patey.

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Remember, if you picked up a ration book at The Bigger Picture, you can join me in an attempt at one planet living next month, when I’ll be trying to stick to carbon budget.

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Bookmark and ShareAndy Wimbush is nef‘s Communications Assistant and blogmaster.

Clare Patey, at the Ministry of Trying to Do Something About It

Inside, it’s more or less an empty room. Bare brick walls. No curtains at the windows. A drab patterned rug has been placed in the middle of the floor. And the only furniture to speak of is a kind of desk knocked together from three old suitcases.

Behind the desk stands a woman wearing a vintage blue woollen suit. On her head, is a matching hat,  with the words “RATION ME UP” embroidered just above the brim. This is Clare Patey, an artist whose previous work has included Feast on the Bridge – a sit-down dinner for hundreds of people on London’s Southwark Bridge.

There’s a crowd of us standing in the room now. And Clare has started handing out little books, each one a different colour. I look down at the green one which is now in my hands: Ration Me Up. Carbon Ration Book. One Month.

Flicking through the book, I find coupons for almost every activity in my life: taking a bath, running a fridge, eating vegetables, boiling a kettle, taking a bus, even buying a pair of socks. On the back of the book is a grid of forty squares.

These forty squares, I’m told, represent my carbon ration for one month. That’s based on the knowledge that in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, each person in the world must limit their yearly output of greenhouse gases to 1.15 tonnes of CO₂e. For some people, such as those in developing countries, that will be more than they currently emit, allowing them to raise their material standard of living. But for someone like me in the UK, where the average annual emission is around 11 tonnes of CO₂e, that’s going to mean a fairly hefty carbon detox.

I’m already a vegetarian who doesn’t fly and who cycles to work, but apparently it’ll take even greater levels of dedication to the cause to get me down to one-planet living. Next month I’ll be trying to stay within my carbon ration. If you picked up a ration book at The Bigger Picture on Saturday, you can join me and my much obliging other half, Belinda, on a low carbon adventure here at the nef blog. Post your comments, share your photos and let us know how you get on.

Ed, engrossed in his ration book, while Andrew addresses the crowd.

We may or may not have a high-profile guest quietly joining in too, in bizarre twist of fate blurring one fake Ministry with another genuine one. At a rally last week, nef policy director Andrew Simms managed to press one of these little ration books into the hands of the Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, otherwise known as the Minister for Energy and Climate Change. It turned out that Ed was so taken by the idea that he was busy mentally totting up his rations and paid precious little attention to Andrew’s speech. So, who knows, maybe Ed’s out there busy trying to work out how many pairs of underpants he can afford this month, just like the rest of us.

Ration Me Up is part of a series of new work around art and the new economics, commissioned by nef, supported by Platform and funded by Arts Council England.

Bookmark and ShareAndy Wimbush is nef‘s Communications Assistant and blogmaster.


Today, apparently, is Blog Action Day 2009. The idea? Everyone blogs about climate change! In a frenzy of web activity! (Just don’t mention the carbon footprint)

But what can blogging really do for climate change? Well, for a start, it provides a means for climate scientists to connect directly to a popular audience, without having to rely on the press and broadcast media. Ben Goldacre, doctor and author of Bad Science, has argued that more scientists should be blogging to increase public understanding. Fortunately, in the field of climate science there are some excellent blogs out there.

For dataheads, there’s no beating RealClimate, a strictly science-only blog run by five professional climate scientists, working at leading universities and scientific institutions, including the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The RealClimate guys don’t get involved in politics or economics, but they’re keen debunkers of pseudoscience nonsense that abounds in the climate denialosphere.

Then there’s Climate Progress, written by the unstoppable Joseph Fromm, who holds a Ph.D in Physics and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Joe goes beyond science to think about the political and economic solutions we need, and remains upbeat about the possibility of global climate deal at Copenhagen. His coverage of the US climate bill is second to none, and his rebuttals of climate blunders are hilarious as well as definitive. I especially recommend his take on the new book from the authors of Freakonomics. Climate Progress really is one of the best blogs around, climate-related or otherwise.

At nef, we’ve always believed that only a cultural paradigm shift will stop climate change, and deliver the economy we really need. That’s why we’ve made the arts such a vital part of The Bigger Picture: Festival of Interdependence. My final climate-related blog recommendation is that of the RSA’s Arts and Ecology project. Every book, exhibition, film or social movement relating to climate change and other environmental issues gets clocked here. Well worth a visit.

So there’s my contribution to Blog Action Day. Sending our precious readers elsewhere. Go off and explore, but be sure to come back to the nef blog. There are big plans afoot!

Bookmark and ShareAndy Wimbush is nef‘s Communications Assistant and blogmaster.

With only two weeks left until The Bigger Picture: Festival of Interdependencenef‘s major free event happening at Bargehouse on London’s South Bank, 24 October 2009 – we thought you might like a sneak preview. Thanks our near namesakes at bigpicture.tv, we’ve got a little film of some of our speakers describing their vision for a new and better economy and society.

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The speakers, in order of appearance, are Andrew Simms (nef), Claire Patey (artist), Mel Evans (PLATFORM), Richard Wilkinson (Equality Trust), Eva Neitzert (nef), Roman Krznaric (The School of Life), Stewart Wallis (nef), Jeremy Leggett (SolarCentury).

Bookmark and ShareAndy Wimbush is nef‘s Communications Assistant and blogmaster.

The Bigger Picture: A Festival of InterdependenceIf you can get to London’s South Bank by cycling, walking or taking the kind of public transport which has neither wings nor steam-engines, then we’d love it if you could come along to The Bigger Picture: A Festival of Interdependence. It’s shaping up to be a fantastic day. The programme hasn’t been finalised yet, but I can promise that you’ll get an incredible array of speakers, fantastic workshops which will equip you with the skills to live a low carbon, high well-being life, galleries full of art that speaks to our troubled times and the chance to connect and dream with other people who, like you, are working towards a better world. That, and film screenings, talks, stalls and all the things you’d expect from an event like this. And best of all, it’s completely free to attend.

And if you live beyond the remit of trains, coaches, pedals and feet, you should still keep the 24 October 2009 free. As I mentioned a while back, that’s the day when our friends at 350.org – the international pressure group fronted by NASA scientist James Hanson and veteran environmental campaigner Bill McKibbon – are organising a global day of action on climate change. 350 have made a map of actions, so you can find the one nearest to you, or better yet, add your own!

Bill has been busy promoting the day – and the importance of the number 350, which represents the safe level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere (we’re already at a dangerous 390 ppm). Here he faces Stephen Colbert, the mock right-wing commentator on US TV station Comedy Central: Vodpod videos no longer available.

Bookmark and ShareAndy Wimbush is nef‘s Communications Assistant and blogmaster.

The Bigger PictureWe started this blog last October to discuss the converging crises of climate change, peak oil and recession, and the huge social upheaval that those problems are creating. We wanted to show that not only are these crises interlinked – that is, they have the same or related underlying causes – but also that the same is true of the solutions. For example, a Green New Deal would not only tackle climate change, it would wean us off a depleting oil supply and create jobs and restore economic stability. Similarly, creating policies which enhance personal and social well-being will not only enhance our lives, but also liberate us from patterns of consumption that damage the environment. Saving the Post Office will protect small businesses, create jobs, help build low-carbon communities and benefit people on low-incomes. The list could go on.

What we’ve tried to do, in other words, is create a much bigger picture of the various challenges we face. Something which, as Stewart Wallis wrote in his dispatch from the World Economic Forum in Davos, our politicians and business leaders are still failing to see. We’ve also tried to stress that while the triple crunch is a frankly terrifying prospect, there remains the opportunity for positive change.

This October, nef will be bringing this same ethos of vision and opportunity to a major series of public events, under the banner The Bigger Picture. We’ll be hosting discussions, actions and exhibitions, ending with a major “festival of interdependence” in London on October 24th 2009 . The festival will bring together artists, thinkers, activists and you for a day of learning, making, celebrating and debating, about how we can start the Great Transition to a new economy. Best of all, the festival will be completely free.

We’ve got a fantastic range of partner organisations – including ActionAid, 350.org, Real Bread Campaign and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion – and  over twenty-five speakers, including Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (authors of The Spirit Level), John Sauven (Greenpeace), Rosie Boycott (London Food), Oliver James (author of The Selfish Capitalist), Paul Kingsnorth (author of Real England) and Susie Orbach (author of Fat is Feminist Issue), as well as nef‘s Andrew Simms, Stewart Wallis and Anna Coote.

And in case you’re thinking that this sounds suspiciously like a conference, you might like to know that the festival will involve not just listening to experts, but debating, discussing, storytelling, re-skilling, music, art, activism, film screenings, kite-making, bee keeping and probably a nice big picnic.

We’ve made a little website to display all this information, and to keep people updated about new developments. Have a look at http://thebiggerpicture2009.org/

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nef employees blog in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the new economics foundation.