Hello, and welcome to this month’s Voice for Arran. August is here already and despite the cancelled events on Arran this summer there are still plenty of things going on and projects to get involved with! Today sees the launch of Arran’s first community radio station, an exciting plan that the Arran Sounds group has had for some time and which found impetus during the Covid-19 lockdown. Read about the developments here and tune in at arransound.com!
When I write these editorials I am often struck by how the big and sometimes overwhelming themes of our global experience (of which we cover some!) are connected to or co-exist with our daily realities here in Arran. For me the community activities ‘on the ground’ bring to light the positive aspects of these weighty problems, and I find it can be all too easy to take a possibly naively hopeful view on the future of our planet. In this issue we hear about how the Arran Arts Heritage Trail is developing, and from the Arran Pioneer Project, a new venture to grow food at sites across the island with the aim to help make Arran more independently food secure. There is news from Eco Savvy and a Saving Water on Arran campaign which launched last month, as well as an update from COAST and the research taking place in Arran’s Marine Protected Area and No Take Zone this summer.
Yet as some of the articles remind us, the big issues and their often very challenging implications are never far away and finding the balance between hope and optimism on the one hand and naivety and despondency on the other, is quite a constant work in progress. In his article ‘Why don’t we take climate change seriously?’ Sulaiman Ilyas-Jarrett explores one of the main reasons why the dominant western powers have not responded more quickly to the most major problem of our time. His hard hitting point is that if climate change directly affected white westerners, changes would have come quicker, and that it is racism which has been and continues to be one of the biggest obstacles to action on the climate crisis.
This is a big and uncomfortable notion to swallow, but ultimately necessary if we are to move forward. Of course as Ilyas-Jarrett says, the delay in confronting global warming is bound up with economics, class and gender as well, but the consequences of the UK’s colonial history continue. He goes on to say, “For now, the UK’s climate inequities are most clear in relation to empire and the Commonwealth. As a British citizen I live in a country that has one of the world’s highest historical CO2 emissions, but has borne almost none of the consequences.” Meanwhile “the nations of my grandparents, Jamaica and Pakistan respectively, are suffering from extreme heat waves, floods, and increasingly intense tropical storms.”
Ilyas-Jarrett says ex-colonial governments have an obligation to take a stronger lead on problems they’ve helped cause, yet these systems of global inequality continue and are something Sally Campbell raises in her piece, Trust in the Balance. While fossil fuel investment is decreasing in the UK itself, the government continues to fund oil and gas industries in other, often poorer developing countries. “According to figures collated by Greenpeace’s Unearthed, the government could be on the hook for up to £6bn invested in fossil fuel projects around the world.” International relationships may take on a different guise today, but the benefits to western countries, of the resources they procure, while increasing the global climate crisis and affecting countries and communities so unevenly remains a shocking fact. These are all themes that also tie into Malcolm Kerr’s article Heritage, Slavery and the NTS, and with its focus on the previous residents of Brodick Castle and recent conversations in The Banner’s letters section, it brings us right back home to Arran.
Keeping focus on the positive people and projects going on around me, and working from a place of hope is I find essential. However we need to let enough discomfort in for meaningful change to happen. As Ilyas-Jarrett says, “We need to do more. And to spur the action we require on climate, we must first accept the equal humanity of those that suffer the most. If we did that, inaction would feel impossible.”
We hope you enjoy this issue and have a great month too! Elsa