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Environment

It is 2017 and the newly elected President of the United States of America is apologizing to the world for its contribution to environmental injustices at home and globally. Could this happen? Should it happen?

There is a long list of historic environmental injustices that the nation has inflicted upon its own peoples and cultures, and globally. Environmental racism, where environmental laws, policies and practices have differentially affected individuals, groups of communities based on race or colour, the watered down approach of American companies towards corporate social responsibility, and its significant contribution towards climate change all form part of a shameful record.

At home, over the last few decades, the nation has experienced unprecedented extreme weather conditions – droughts, floods, hurricanes. It doesn’t take much to see the strain on the faces of citizens who are having to move from their communities and sell their businesses. For some, the sense of helplessness is too much to bear. Do we really know the consequences for the nation on the mental health of its citizens?

The United States of America is a proud nation. A courageous nation. But it must be honest with itself. Its future must be based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility. The damaging and dangerous notions, fantasies and myths of American exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny that continue to influence political ideology must be confined to history.

The nation can look to its former Presidents for good examples of environmental leadership. It was Theodore Roosevelt who recognized that the environment had a direct connection to democratic ideals and that the conservation of natural resources was a duty we owe to our children and our children’s children.

Patriotism demands embracing a sense of belonging to a community and showing an allegiance through meeting its moral obligation to make amends for a nation’s past wrongs. Only by willingly acknowledging its responsibility for discharging its moral obligations to apologize can the nation take pride in itself, restore and maintain its dignity and self-esteem.

The nation’s courage must no diminish. This is not the time for soft mindedness. Through investing in, and redefining its spiritual and moral values, the nation can find new ways to communicate with the peoples of the world, to be better understood, and to right the wrongs of the past.

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Looking out over Bristol harbour in the south west of England, I ponder the statement Dan Bloom makes in his Washington Post article, ‘Climate change has created a new literary genre’ http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/11/climate-change-has-created-a-new-literary-genre/

Having spent over 20 years advising businesses and Government on environmental issues, I have witnessed the shifts in opinion of what are considered to be the environmental issue of the day on a local to global scale. To motivate and accelerate change for the better in society requires energy, dialogue and understanding. And environmental concerns are no different.

I strongly believe cli-fi has enormous potential to engage a global audience on the many issues around climate change and make a real difference. However, I agree with Nathaniel Rich that to achieve this would require a shift in the perspective of writers from an exclusively western, wealthy nation perspective.

The cultural background of cli-fi writers and their stories is fundamental to getting the message across. Where can the faith perspectives be found? Who is engaging on the multi-cultural dimension of the effects of climate change? Has global politics and law slipped under the radar? Yes, getting the science broadly right is important but let’s not forget these other factors that will ultimately shape how we can adjust to the consequences of climate change and survive alongside each other as a species on Earth. Cli-fi has a responsibility to communicate a sense of reality but also to deliver a message of inclusiveness and optimism. It still has some way to go to be accepted as a genre that can make the difference but by those involved with the genre seriously engaging with the issues beyond their cultural background and experiences it’s just possible we can get there.

The term ‘cli-fi’ (short for climate fiction) was coined by Dan Bloom. Cli-fi describes a loose collection of novels, films, plays, works of art and even video games which all touch on, or are concerned with, climate change.

I am really interested in the potential of cli-fi to engage a wide and diverse audience on the issues around climate change and influence the debate. With this in mind, I have set up a Facebook cli-fi group for anyone with an interest in cli-fi to share and discuss their work, ideas and find out more about this exciting genre.

It would be great to see you there! Here’s the link https://www.facebook.com/groups/320538704765997/

Paul

Thank you for reading my running blog.

On 21 April I completed the London Marathon in a time of 4h31min. It was a bit slower than I hoped, largely as a result of leg cramps in the final 8 miles but it was a brilliant day and one I will never forget.

It’s been a wonderful experience, the training, the support I’ve received and the distance run. I strongly suspect this won’t be my last marathon. Meanwhile, thanks to so many people’s generosity, my efforts raised well over 2000 pounds for Mencap.

Looking forward to running again and my next challenge…

Paul

Thank you for reading my running blog.

In less than 7 days time (21 April), I will be running my first ever marathon. It’s been a wonderful journey – the training, the encouragement and support from Juliet and so many friends and colleagues, the highs (and not many lows) of pushing myself beyond my previous physical and mental limits, the places I’ve seen, the books and articles I’ve read on running. This has been a moment in my life I will treasure and never forget.

My final week of preparation will involve a few, small, gentle jogs and being a little stricter with my diet. I’ve decided what I’ll be wearing and how I’ll be recovering. If you get a chance to watch, I’ll be wearing a red and yellow top and number 42558. I’ll also have “Weezo” printed on my back.

I’m feeling nervous but excited – I can’t wait!

Have a great week.

Paul

I’m running the 2013 London Marathon for Mencap. Please have a look at my sponsorship page!

Thank you for reading my running blog.

The big day will soon be here. Just two weeks and one day to go until my first marathon! It’s been a fantastic journey. The weather may not have been kind, but my efforts have been going well and the whole experience has been unforgettable. One of the highlights has to be 20 miles in driving sleet a couple of weeks ago.The support I’ve received from friends, colleagues and readers of this blog has been incredible.

I am running for Mencap, to which I have a strong personal attachment, as my uncle Roy was born with severe learning difficulties. I spent a lot of time with him as a child and my life would have been very much the poorer without the contact I had with him. Last month a disturbing article about vulnerable people who suffer from learning difficulties reminded me once again why I chose this charity, and I feel incredibly proud to be running for them and for Roy. It’s not too late to sponsor me, and any support you feel able to offer, however small, will really spur me on the day, and will be going to a fantastic cause. My sponsorship page is at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulDCollins.

I would like to mention the recent death of Mabel Cooper, a truly inspirational and kind woman who worked tirelessly in raising the issue of bullying and discrimination against people with learning difficulties.

During the last few days, I’ve been tapering. As a marathon first-timer, this period has caused me some anxiety – will I be able to run the distance when the big day arrives? Thankfully, I’m not the only one to have experienced this and there are many helpful articles out there to provide some comfort. The Guardian’s Running Blog offers some useful advice. Then, there’s the post-marathon recovery – rehydration, refuelling, ice baths. What should my next challenge be – a quicker marathon, perhaps do an ultra-marathon? What I’m rapidly becoming aware of is that, having put my heart and soul into training for the marathon, I need a plan for the days after it – another part of the overall marathon strategy.

So, training has been fairly gentle this week with more rest built in – 7 miles on Wednesday, 5 miles on Friday. Saturday I ran the Serpentine Running Club handicap and managed to achieve a personal best!

Have a great week!

Best wishes,

Paul