Science is indistinguishable from magic to the uninitiated. Gandalf could bring a Hobbit village to a standstill with a simple spell. Science made television, which can do the same.
In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf arrived at the shire with incredible news. “A dark force” was mustering that could destroy the land. Extraordinary things would be expected of simple Hobbits. Specifically, our hero, Frodo would have to button his breeches and stride bravely forward to meet the threat.
What would have happened if, at the same time, a group of wealthy, land-owning hobbits had kicked up and enormous fuss? They launched a campaign to deny the news from Gandalf. They urged their peers to ignore the massive existential threat. They had a different issue. They were furious because some Hobbits they didn’t know had arrived and were working in the fields. Worst of all… they were a different colour and talked in different tongues!
The UK is in danger. Spring hasn’t sprung because human activity has melted much of the arctic. This cold meltwater pours into the Atlantic disrupting the Gulf Stream which pipes warmer weather to us from the Caribbean. When all the ice has gone – we are going to cook. The weird weather we are experiencing now is just a taste of things to come.
We cannot stop these changes but we can do two things: 1. we can prepare (adaptation) 2. we can work to reduce our ongoing contribution to future harm (mitigation). Both are major endeavours we need to start now (actually 20 years ago).
You might remember that in the run up to his election David Cameron visited the arctic and put a wind turbine on his roof. This reveals that he had access to the information that hordes of orcs and worse were mustering in Mordor intent on destruction.
Since taking control of government Cameron and his slimy companion – Osborne, have launched a war against climate science and the renewable energy technologies that can harness the limitless free energy around us. They turn instead to the dark technologies that poison the land (tax breaks to shale). They are even converting old power stations to be able to burn trees (Drax) so that ancient and sacred woodlands from distant lands will be felled to fuel the ideological nightmare of these fearful Hobbits.
Above their dirty power stations dark clouds of pollution hover, arbiters of what is to come.
Luckily, all good adventure stories involve heroes overcoming insurmountable odds. This adventure is only just beginning and the protagonist is us. We have two choices. 1. We can listen to Cameron and Osborne’s vile rasping “precious land, precious land, must push out all hobbits that talk different. We must look inwards and be fearful. we must prioritise conserving our identity heritage and traditional distribution of wealth above all else.”
Option 2 is bigger and braver. It involves throwing our capes back over our shoulders and drawing up to our true heights. We must look out beyond the shire and perceive the whole planet, and that – amazingly – it is changing.
And we must listen to Gandalf.
His message is clear. If we sit in the shire and carry on as we are – we will die. The forces that have been unleashed are fearsome, destructive and unrelenting. They will not recognise or respect the arbitrary borders we used to cherish.
To meet the greatest challenge that has ever faced the shire we must unite with diverse and unexpected new allies. That is, the entire kingdom of humankind. Our response will fail if we exclude the Elfs or the Germans or the darkies or even those strange yellow folk from far away.
Once united we must face the threat head on. Pretending it isn’t there, crying to mummy or claiming Gandalf made it up will not cut it.
The brave ones will listen to Gandalf. The good news is that he knows what to do; we can use new magic. We don’t need to tear up the shire for dark energy that draws in fierce storms. We can access limitless, clean energy.
We can break up the giant mega-corporations that refuse to change and the institutions they have bought out. We can dance on their graves as we re-shape our lives to better suit us – not their balance sheets.
We can switch to a four day working week and then a three. We can spend the extra time looking after our children properly and our old people.
We can rebuild community and do things locally again. We can ban private cars and turn our streets into safe zones for our kids and grow vegetables and play games and throw block parties and create whatever we like from what is around us.
We can build a new shire where our time is precious not the paper we have been selling it for. And in making this shire we will find ourselves transformed. No longer prisoners to the hate-filled parochialism of fearful hobbits.
Guided by science, we choose truth, abundance and beauty.
And we believe in magic.