Thought for the week: Simon Tilley on the climate nightmare

I don’t know about you, but most of my bad dreams seem to involve helplessness. Here’s one: I’m a tall chap on a coach going down a motorway. I’ve got the seat just behind the driver, with plenty of legroom, and I’m comfortable, even serene. Then I become aware that in the distance just over the hill there’s a pile-up. The driver hasn’t noticed – indeed he’s actually accelerating a bit.

I do nothing; I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. But as we get closer, I see it is quite a big pile-up, and he still doesn’t seem to have noticed. I wonder whether I should speak up. In the end I say, in a conversational tone: ‘Looks like there’s a bit of a prang up ahead.’ He makes no reply. I repeat myself a bit louder, and two things happen. He says ‘It’s just a bit of congestion’ and one of my fellow passengers nudges me and points to a sign saying: ‘Do not speak to the driver while the vehicle is in motion.’ ‘Please be quiet,’ she says, ‘it’s not safe to speak to the driver and you’re upsetting my friend.

’You know how these things go; no one else appears to have clocked what is becoming a really obvious disaster up ahead or, if they have, seem oblivious to the danger. They go on chatting and reading and sleeping, and when I try to get their attention, they just look at me as if I were a television. And the coach continues to accelerate…

I’m screaming now, pointing ahead: ‘For God’s sake, stop! Brake! Brake hard!’

Amazingly no one seems to hear. One or two of the other passengers are looking at me with mild, bovine interest, but most are remonstrating with me for disrupting their journey. We reach the prow of the hill and I notice break fluid escaping onto the road…the hill starts to send quickly…..And then, with about a hundred yards to go before we pile into the destruction ahead, the driver applies the brake but they are soft and spongey, we start to slow but far too little and too late………….

This is where I wake up, to that overwhelming feeling of relief that it was just a dream.

I usually ask myself what led up to that dream. Often there’s a logical explanation, based somewhere in reality. When you’re asleep, your brain sorts stuff you’ve been dealing with, re-runs it by and sorts out my emotional response while you’re offline. I went on a coach to London recently for the last People’s Vote march, and I’ve been reading a book about climate breakdown, (There is No Planet-B by Mike Berners-Lee) so that explains that.

Except, of course, that isn’t really a dream. When I wake I don’t get a surge of relief, just a feeling of despair at the reality: the clear and unanswerable fact that we are on the brink of irreversible climate breakdown; the knowledge that, in their anxiety not to be alarmist the media often sits quiet, our scientists understated the danger and the ongoing complacency of some of our politicians is obvious, even when faced by the reality of fires in California and Australia, famine in South Sudan and floods in Fishlake. And I wish I’d pushed the driver out of the way and taken over the steering wheel myself earlier. The prow of the hill and the leaking brake fluid must have represented a tipping point beyond which we can not retreat. These are approaching but we don’t know when.

Everything I have done over the last two decades in Hockerton Housing Projector have been Reasonable and Proper. I’ve written articles, spoken to the media, talked with friends and family, had polite meetings with my MP, written letters and signed petitions. All to no avail. So, I fear, perhaps it’s not time to stay polite, but get arrested, to make the point. And dare to dream of a hopeful future. Nonviolent direct action is starting to turn the tide, but we don’t have long.

Every action we take counts, where we bank, where we shop and for what, how we vote and what we choose to eat, how high we have the heating and how far we travel. A better future can be envisaged but we need to act and act to make it happen now.

If you want to find out about some practical steps you can take especially if your interested in low energy housing, environmental education and or renewable energy please contact me. Or if you’d like to look at our new videos on sustainability please click here.

Best wishes Simon

Date posted: December 2, 2019 | Author: | No Comments »

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Truth, Action and Assembly: Quick update – if you are local and want to hear about the climate emergency and what to do about it please come along to one of the local XR event The last one at Southwell Library – XR Talk – Heading for Extinction and what to do about it ! Thursday 21st November at 7PM was well attended with over 40 people turning up.

This link shows data of the melting Arctic Ice between 1984 and 2016 very scary……

It would be great if all political candidates in the area could attend! Simon Tilley the speaker would love to see James Baggaley, Jay Henderson, Robert Jenrick and David Watts there to face the facts and start to act upon them!!

·  Labour James Baggaley

·  Green Jay Henderson

·  Conservative Robert Jenrick

·  Liberal Democrat David Watts

Date posted: November 20, 2019 | Author: | No Comments »

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Forward from Luke: Hey! I’m excited to host Ed Revil (traveling up from his small holding in Swansea) at the Meanwood Community Farm in Leeds this Thursday 21st Nov 18-20.00 it will be an inspiring and challenging presentation from his 20 years experience of building soils, capturing carbon and producing food using DIY appropriate technology to make bio char. Hope to see you there! Luke

Date posted: November 15, 2019 | Author: | No Comments »

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I am working to improve Hockerton Housing Project’s educational programme and have come across a useful collection of teaching resources in a publicly open Google Docs folder.

In this folder there are a 14 climate change related lesson plans that will encourage students to think more sustainably. I have summarised these lesson plans so that they can be easily used for teaching purposes when school groups make site-visits to Hockerton Housing Project. For example:

Lesson 2 – Donald Trump Climate Quotes and Climate Denial


  • Fake News or ‘What Donald Trump Said’ activity – great activity about 15-20 mins long
  • BBC News article on psychology of climate change denial. Students need to read this and complete an activity sheet asking them to summarise the article.

Google Docs Outline:

  1. Starter: Trump or Fake News – Show students the quotes from Donald Trump relating to climate change. Ask the students to decide whether the quote is ‘Trump’ or ‘Fake News’. Use the information sheet to elaborate on the meaning of his words. Ask students their opinion of Trump’s attitude? Should he be allowed to have these views?
  2. Scientific Consensus – Why does Climate Denial still exist? Explain the animated graph showing temperature models for a variety of organisations around the world all showing a similar trend. 98% of scientific evidence suggests recent climate change is manmade. Is there still a debate?
  3. News Article – Brain Biases. Direct students to read the BBC news article. Using the worksheet students should read and then reread, pulling out different pieces of information as they go.
  4. What’s the main reason for our inaction? – Students should rank the suggested factors and in pairs, develop reasons for why they think this might be the most powerful factor.

Open the document below too see my summary of all 14 lesson plans.

Liam Cox

Date posted: October 30, 2019 | Author: | No Comments »

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Over the past two years we’ve hosted more school trips. From mapping natural resources to debating political issues, our tours can be adapted to suit any geographical or sociological aspect of sustainability.

On a visit, a resident shows small groups of students round. We show them how we harvest rainwater, generate green energy, and how we designed and built our homes to be as energy efficient as possible. This allows for a two-way conversation, and to explore the areas that the students are most interested in.

Alongside the formal educational element, we see the children’s understanding of a ‘good life’ being challenged and informed. We often see and hear attitudes change in real time, as they take away the conclusion that to live sustainably is not to go without, but is to live with… with comfort, with zero carbon, and with cooperation in the community.

The feedback from the students of Carlton Le Willows says it all:

‘The place is absolutely awesome, it is the future’.
“I think the Project was a great way to show how people can still live ordinary lives within a community without spending too much money but still doing great things for the environment and building a better more promising future for our relatives to come”
‘I thought it was a very educational trip and that it is amazing what some people can do!’

We make school trips to Hockerton Housing Project as accessible as possible and encourage you to contact us to set a visit up.

Date posted: August 25, 2017 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: education

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