Mon, 21 Sept 2020
The second Hampstead Norreys GreenFest culminated on Saturday, September 5, with environmentalist and communicator Matthew Shribman providing the closing address.
The festival, which began in 2019, had to move online this year due to the pandemic, with speakers talking via a series of video livestreams.
Mr Shribman founded the #NoBeef campaign, which draws attention to the negative ecological impact of beef production.
Last year, Matthew’s campaign group, Planet A, organised for 1,000 trees to arrive outside the UK parliament. The action resulted in more than 400 MPs collecting trees and the UK’s tree planting plans multiplying by a factor of 100.
His appearance at GreenFest was a highlight of the programme. While other speakers focused on local or practical issues, Mr Shribman used his slot to explore ‘green recovery’, attempting to hammer home the scale of the crisis facing humanity.
Mr Shribman said: “Partly because of what we’ve learned – or not learned – and partly because we live in a world whose primary and all too pervasive pursuit is profit for profit’s sake, many of the people in charge are so entrenched in ‘business as usual’ that they can’t even make space for improving the world.
“And so we misplace our time, and our money, and our desires in things that abuse the planet and the biosphere.
“While this may not have been such a big problem a few hundred years ago, now there are eight billion of us who are on the brink of irreversible disaster.
“Civilisation is at stake.”
Mr Shribman said the coronavirus pandemic has appeared to have pushed environmental issues out of the limelight, which risks fostering complacency.
He highlighted the destructive effects of fossil fuel extraction and excessive animal husbandry, and detailed potential technological solutions. He also emphasised the prospects of positive change, without downplaying the challenges ahead.
In his closing remarks, Mr Shribman said: “The most likely trajectory that we are on at the moment is in line with a world that can support less than half of the current human population.
“Obviously, the world has completely turned around for the coronavirus pandemic – and it’s a very good thing that it has done so.
“But, to put things into context, the coronavirus pandemic puts a few per cent of the world population in danger.
“Obviously, it’s something worth acting over, certainly, but, in comparison, we’re talking about 50 per cent of the world population.”
A dialogue was maintained with viewers throughout, with villagers and friends of the Hampstead Norreys community posing questions in the comments section of the stream.
To watch Mr Shribman’s lecture click here.