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Chipping away behind the headlines.

SOMETHING STRANGE HAS HAPPENED WITH CLIMATE CHANGE. It's cooled down again. I don't mean that it isn't real - it's definitely still happening - but we've got another crisis to worry about now. It's the stupid economy hitting the rocks, and when people start rioting in European cities, the political and wealthy classes come to attention. That's a bit too close to their nice houses. Nevermind the melting icecaps or the parched Sahara, they want this one sorting out first - or instead. Do you remember when MPs expenses jeopardised democracy itself? Or when global Islamic terrorist networks were a threat to civilisation? It seems we can't get enough of threats. Writers like Ulrich Beck have called our modern industrialised life a 'risk society'. We're supposed to anticipate and adapt to risk more than any previous society. Rubbish. The Metro-reading public are herded from one worry to another without time to think, nor the means to tell truth from lies. Information overload? Not really, because to call it information is to over-value it. Much of the media we consume starts in press releases from businesses and governments with their own agenda. The power over our minds is the one they're really after. This is made clear in a new film called Psywar, which had its UK launch at the Sheffield Social Centre collective's recent Free School. It can be watched online by following the link from Sheffield Indymedia's feature about the Free School. There are so many threatened crises they can't all be true, can they? As usual the activists chipping away behind the headlines think they know what's really going on. There is a massive global threat to our existence. What is it? Well, it's not easily explained in one phrase like 'Islamic terrorism'. In fact that's a complete side issue, as we now know, that turned out to be a few odd blokes in Leeds, and populations in places like Afghanistan very pissed off with foreign interests interfering. So what it's really all about is a combination of two centuries or more of industrial processes ripping up the planet's surface, mixing up deadly chemical concoctions and pouring them into the biosphere, and aggressive capitalism with dodgy governments twisting public understanding of things. Global warming? Quite nice really. But call it climate chaos, or global dehydration, and suddenly it's not so cosy. There is new evidence that cyclical solar radiation affects cloud formation, which masks the real impact of climate change every few years (remember where you heard this first!) But climate will soon be back at the top of the crisis agenda in a massive way. Why should anyone in a small city like Sheffield do anything about this? We all have to get up, work and pay the bills, and demonstrating isn't going to change anything, is it? I'd have to agree, but I still go to demonstrations. One reason is that I learn more from the leaflets and speeches there than I do from the media. I meet people who also see through the media's miasma of nonsense. I realise every time that there are a lot of us and that we're growing stronger. It doesn't matter that every battle isn't won, because change is a process. The next generation will see the result of the green revolution, which has been building since the 60s, or they'll die trying. Sheffield's environmental movement includes the ever-growing Green Party and Sheffield Renewables, which will be doing its 'people's share offer' soon. In October, a flash mob event about climate change in the Peace Gardens brought an American idea about mobilising people to Sheffield. Sheffield Campaign Against Climate Change is also running a lecture series called Plan 2050, which you might just catch the end of this month. These people know more about what's got to be done than the average Metro-reader or city councillor. Apologies to the elected members - many good people I'm sure - but there are things they just don't have the time or knowledge to look into like the pressure groups can. But why should they - or we - listen to these pressure groups? The alternative is to listen to the business interests who got us into this mess. Carry on reading the Metro, everything will be alright... Look up some of the activities and groups on Alt-Sheff and find out what's really going on. Alt-Sheff )

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