Cut Energy Use

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

17th October 2022
Cut Energy Use

This is how I remember it:

When I was a student at Swansea University in the 1990s, one of my courses was a green politics course, run by Clive Ponting. The lecture material was his notes on his book, 'A Green History of the World' - a bleak view of how we got to where we got and where we were going to end up (not in a good place.) As an idealistic student I'd read the book, walked the walk, got endlessly frustrated at the then disbelief that climate change actually existed, made my small contributions to save the planet, talked and talked and talked and got hideously depressed by the fact that we were doomed and nobody cared, or did care but understood that everybody was essentially powerless.

Then Mr Ponting gave us a light at the end of the tunnel of doom we were all travelling in, during his lectures. He told us the final two hour lecture of the year would be a message of hope. It would be a lesson in what was being done, how we were going to save ourselves. I looked forward to this with all my being. My boyfriend at the time and I turned up to that final lecture ready to be hopeful. To lay our arms at the door of a cause and to do something. We turned up knowing we'd be saved from feeling there was no hope, no future.

As we approached the lecture theatre we could see a board propped up outside.

'Lecture cancelled due to lack of material.'

He made his point, and it was brutal.

Quite possibly, we cried. Undoubtedly we went to the student union bar and drowned what remained of our hope.

Fast forward 30 years.

Pretty much everything we were told during those lectures has come true. My boyfriend worked for a better future and has stuck to his convictions and helped to change the world; I became a teacher. We are still friends, went to each other's weddings, catch up every year or two. When we were together we used to get mind-boggled at the very idea of the internet - the world has changed immeasurably since then.

For the worse.

I don't know what became of Clive Ponting - I will google him right after this.

We are overwhelmed now in information, and most of it bad. As a teacher I am faced by students' lassitude on a daily basis. I try my best to live a good life but by moving to the country we are now car-dependent - buses, what buses? - and although we have made our house as eco friendly as we can it's not enough. I try to stay upbeat for my children but feel constantly overwhelmed. There's a sense of helplessness - just as I felt when I was a student. The problems are too big, too far reaching, just too overwhelming.

(There is a message of hope coming, I promise. I'm not a Clive.)

I don't know what the answer is. As individuals we look around and see the world spinning and everybody singing to their own tunes and doing their own thing and being wasteful and using lights when they don't need them and buying plastic bottles and switching off the news because it is easier not to know and mostly, people are just trying to survive, especially at the moment. We are going to be forced to cut our energy use this winter, whilst large corporations and the rich carry on exactly as they were, thank you very much. So as individuals we look around and feel overwhelmed and think, well, everyone else is doing it, I might as well join them - which then feeds into itself and the whole
again, as Matt Johnson said.


I am still an optimist. I will nurture my children, grow my veg and keep my bees and support the politicians who get it. I live in Scotland and the country is investing in renewables - that all feels very hopeful. I'll switch off my lights and use the wood pellet boiler sparingly. I'll try not to be overwhelmed and I'll cut as much energy use as I can.

I'm not going to be a Clive Ponting and leave this with a note of hopelessness. I think there is hope.

The student I was had a poster on her wall with the slogan Think Global, Act Local. I think that's never been truer than it is today.

Make whatever changes you can make, right now
Support anyone in power who works for the future, not the present
Sign petitions
Eat seasonally and support local shops
We can all use less power. Switch it off
Help those in need
Plant things wherever you can
Find the good news stories
Join with others - togetherness is the way forward, not the trend towards isolation
Re energise if you're feeling overwhelmed.

I could add to this list indefinitely but my hour is nearly up. There is much we can - and must - do.

If there is any message it's this, that you and I are alive, and while we are alive, there IS hope. I have made a conscious decision to stay hopeful, just as Clive made a conscious decision to take the hope away. We are alive. We are alive. Find and cherish the beauty, and do whatever small things you can.

Heading into Winter is a difficult time to stay positive, I know. But brighter days are coming. It's been an avalanche of bad news but this MUST be balanced out by an upswing eventually. It must be. Life is a balance. The sun will rise again.

There is hope.


I have just checked on Clive whilst writing this - he died in 2020. I hope he found some hope. Going to go and read about him now.

Happy Monday, whoever and wherever you are and may your week have some brightness in it, however dark it may seem. Hold on.