OVER TO PLAN B
Dee Chadwick
31 Oct 2021
...or is it a case of us walking in the footsteps of Baldrick – (he of Black Adder) and always having a cunning plan? I wonder what cunning plan COP26 will come up with and will it be sufficiently cunning to get all on side and actually taking positive steps to get this old world of ours out of the mess we humans have created?

DO WE ALWAYS NEED TO ASSUME THAT PLANS WILL WORK?..

Firstly, in response to this, I am coming back with ... ‘never assume, it makes an ASS of yoU and ME’.

Having said that, what if that the original plan isn’t working and we consider throwing in the towel? Alternatively, we move to plan B - that alternative plan stashed away on the back burner, noted on phone or lap top - or even jotted down on the current equivalent of that old cigarette packet. I hold my hand up to falling in to this method of saving far too often. Kerching - I have an idea for a current or future blog. I know that if I don’t write it down, it will float off into the ether never to be remembered. I grab whatever paper is to hand and jot down key words. Fine if said paper is one of the many jotters I have lying around for such moments. If not – the ideas go onto the back of supermarket receipts (especially if I am in the car), on a food packet in the kitchen. I then have to ensure that I don’t forget the ‘memo’, rather transfer it onto my lap top or one of those actual jotters before the original finds its way into the recycling bin. And yes, I have had to resort to emptying said bin in search of a gem of an idea that I knew I had had, but once committed to writing had left my grey cells unadulterated by its content.

 Then there’s always the possibility that there is no actual plan as such, rather various threads, thoughts or simply ruminations that have still to make it anywhere other than mulling around those aforementioned grey cells? Is this bank of ideas, concepts, possible solutions an important part of the process? Certainly, though, as I often have such moments when I am out walking, allowing my brain space for thoughts to permeate, I really should ensure that a jotter accompanies me. Trying to write a great idea on a tissue from my pocket has, is fraught with difficulty, especially when the writing implement is the wand of a lip moisturiser and my writing desk the rough bark of a nearby tree. A case of needs must and acknowledging that necessity really can be the mother of invention.

SO WHAT OF COP26?

To give it its full title – the 26th (annual) Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is taking place from 31st October to 12th November in Glasgow, having been delayed a year due to COVID, and following in the footsteps of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 (COP21) which stated  –‘ The agreement includes commitments from all major emitting countries  to cut their climate pollution and to strengthen those commitments over time. The pact provides a pathway for developed nations to assist developing nations in their climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, and it creates a framework for the transparent monitoring, reporting, and ratcheting up of countries’ individual and collective climate goals.’

Despite these aims, our planet continues on its path of climate change – changes that are affecting our weather patterns leading to the homes and businesses of so many being destroyed due to droughts, fires, floods - but also the ecosystems which provide the balance for our planet. The glaciers continue to melt as does the permafrost. This particular melting being responsible for the release of yet more carbon dioxide into the already struggling atmosphere. And there is no Planet B.

If we continue to put our individual wants, desires, feelings of what we think we are due ahead of the needs of mother earth, how can COP26 change things as the clock to that scientific midnight continues to click inexorably on. If we look upon the Paris Agreement as Plan A – we need Plan B to be a whole heap more effective, to go beyond the agreement stage to the taking effective action by the majority of humanity stage – whoops, is that a pink thing with a curly tail I see flying past my window? I sincerely hope not!

I believe that there are only two countries in the world that are actually carbon sinks - Suriname and Bhuthan. The latter is bordered by China and India which are responsible for continuing to contribute so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere! Bhuthan reminds me of the legend of the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dam in order to prevent the crack expanding and the dam breaking!

Other countries make great efforts to reduce carbon emissions. For example, Iceland aims to become carbon neutral by 2040. I guess they have the benefit of natural resources and a small population to support this. Sweden, Finland and Denmark are similar. Some countries struggle, with mixed messages from leaders and governments not helping with this. I include my own to be one of these, though progress is being made. It is proving to be a difficult job to persuade people away from gas guzzling vehicles when said gas remains cheap in USA, and the task of endeavouring to convert China’s huge manufacturing base away from fossil fuels is one that causes problems for the whole of civilisation. I remember when visiting my son in Hong Kong that visibility there improved during Chinese New Year celebrations when the factories closed down. The usually ever-present pollution briefly disappeared. Although President Putin (along with China’s and Brazil’s leaders) is not attending the conference in person, he will be speaking via video link. Maybe he has the right idea here – as how much of a carbon footprint will the face to face meeting of leaders and their teams produce?

We so need Plan B to click into gear; we need each and every one of us to take responsibility for supporting that boy at the dam. I am doing my best and I accept that in my circumstances – ie only working part time, and this is at home – makes things easier for me as I use my car as infrequently as possible. I ‘save up’ journeys so that I can shop, visit friends, whatever in one journey. I walk or catch a bus when I can. I eat little meat and wherever possible, I buy local produce. I have planted trees in my garden. My heating remains switched off – not a problem as the weather remains mild for the time of year... in fact, scarily so some days. I add on an extra layer of clothes and when sitting, have a throw over me. It may not seem a lot, but every little does help if we all join in with this. We cannot turn the other cheek claiming that if everyone is responsible, nobody is responsible. Look where that has got us.... and whilst I do believe in making my beliefs known, I don’t agree with this resulting in pollution causing traffic jams, and delaying people going about their everyday tasks, or getting to appointments.  

Guess we will just have to watch this space to see what changes take place. Changes not only to existing plans, but also ways of implementing any revised plans and legal actions in support of these. Here’s hoping that Plan B has teeth and that there is a willingness to use them to nip at the heels of those reluctant to put Mother Earth ahead of national, local, political agendas. Am I seeing another pink, curly tail being fly by? Again, I hope not.  Will promised financial backing come to full fruition? Especially in support of countries who haven’t seen any benefit from the pollution that happened due to the western world’s development in years gone by? OK, it wasn’t known then that the pollution caused by industrialisation would have such long-lasting and dire consequences. But, it IS known now, so do we or do we not feel some sort of moral responsibility? I guess there are people piled high on each side of this particular fence.

MOVING AWAY FROM COP26 - WHAT OF OTHER ALTERNATIVE PLANS?

Enforced changes of plan happen. The one that leaps to mind for me was with Apollo 13 in April 1970. A wonderful example of out of the box carried out under extremely pressurised conditions by people working as a team, with some of the members of said team thousands of miles away. Two days into the mission that was to have included a lunar landing, said mission had to abort when an oxygen tank exploded. They looped around the moon – and using what they had to hand, and a Heath Robinson approach - constructed the solution to their problems. This involved the many land-based support teams using duplicates of what was on board to eke out resources essential for a return to earth.  Parts were used for far different purposes than those they were designed for... improvisation at its best. With that team work, human grit and ingenuity, they were able to re-enter earth’s atmosphere and land safely.

BACK DOWN TO EARTH

For each of us,when you set yourself a goal, it’s good to have a Plan B to hand. It doesn’t mean that there is an assumption of failure. In fact, having that backup plan can often give reassurance to pursue your original plan with greater vigour. You have options – especially if the original plan to your goal has a forced change – as with Apollo 13, though hopefully not so dramatic – as with COP26, but not with so very much hanging on its outcome.

Options allow you to open more doors, pursue new routes to your goal without your actual goal having to change.  Don’t limit yourself to those, usually self-inflicted, restrictions of Plan A – don’t forget things can and often do change, so maybe a move to Plan B – or even C,D or E - may be more effective than attempting to plod on with your original plan. An approach suggested in entrepreneur.com with regards to starting a business, stating – ‘Like any entrepreneur, if you're struggling to cope with ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey then it is critical for you to have a Plan B in place....It need not necessarily be a replacement or an alternative but an addition or an expansion.” The same applies to goals and plans in all aspects of our lives. I know that when class teaching, I always had a Plan B lined up ready to go if a lesson went more quickly than estimated, or if all or some of the pupils needed additional explanations of a new concept that was proving a hard one to grasp. OK, the plan may not have been required by all, but none-the-less it was all part of my preparation.

So – have a Plan B to hand. Just as I hope that COP26 will move on to have one not only on the table, more importantly, being implemented, being backed up financially to limit our global warming to 1.5 degrees. The limit deemed necessary to prevent the escalation of current problems. We humans need consistent messages about what we can and should do to help. Maybe we will then have to hope for Plan C onwards to meet global acceptance in order to begin the process of actually healing our very much abused planetary home. In order for it to remain the home that it has been for us since homo sapiens first strode on its surface two to three hundred thousand years ago.

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