Name: Kevin Coleman
Organisation: Network Rail
What first triggered your interest in environmental issues?
The first time I really got interested in environmental issues was when the seals and the whales were being hunted and the issues associated with this act of cruelty was being televised around the world by the likes of Greenpeace. In fact I would say they have a lot to answer for because I also remember the time when they were trying to stop the dumping of radioactive waste at sea with their small inflatable boats.
Apart from the fact that I have always been keen on the environment from a very young age (started climbing tree's when I was 5 years old and never stopped) I was really motivated to do something when in 1999 I read about GM whilst stood in the isle near the checkouts in the Iceland frozen food store. I had never heard about it before but I knew immediately that it was wrong. I still believe it is wrong to mess about with the DNA of living things. We don't know enough.
What are you working on, concerned by, or motivated by at the moment?
I started from that moment to take a BSc Honours degree in Environmental studies with the OU starting in 2000. Since then I have studied numerous courses and still haven't got the degree. There are so many interesting courses to choose from which I feel are relevant to what I intend to do. Having started the degree led me to get involved with several organisations which lobby for better environmental conditions. The Woodland Trust, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, The Ancient Tree Hunt as a volunteer Verifier, the International Association for Landscape Ecology (UK) (of which I am now a committee member), the Sierra Club of the US along with the Union of Concerned Scientists, Earthjustice, The Nature Conservancy and a load more besides. I have also recently become involved with the Campaign for Better Transport which being involved with the railway is something relevant to me.
What do you anticipate working on, or thinking about, in relation to environmental issues over the next 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years?
Over the next year I am probably going to be lobbying the government and the prospective candidates for parliament over environmental issues and getting them to actually start to make promises that I will insist they keep with regards to reducing our global footprint and the amount of pollution that is going to kill us all if it is not curbed. That is along with the carbon emissions and trade in rainforest derived goods which result in its destruction.
5 years from now I hope to be well on my way to my PhD which is my ultimate aim. I want to conduct research into species migration and the effects of human activity and occupation on this process.
This is always going to be a 'maybe if I get the right grades' kind of target. I may have to do a Masters first, and then again maybe not. I will have to do them part-time anyway so that is at least 6 years and probably 8 but we will see. It also depends on how the railway modernises itself too. I may still have a job and then again I may not but only time will tell. If I am redundant I will have all the time in the world but limited financial means to continue my studies.
10 years from now I would seriously hope to have retired from the railway by a few years so that I can pursue my own interests in environmental conservation and regeneration, along with my own self-sufficiency plans to go 'Off Grid'. But it is all so much dreams and pie-in-the-sky to a lot of people who don't know me or what motivates me.
How optimistic or pessimistic are you as you look at where we might be in 2020, and why?
I fear for the planet and feel sure that by 2020 we will have had a major global war/famine/disaster (or all three) which will have cut the global human population by a massive amount and set up a positive feedback loop of continued decline of the planet from climatic and/or pollution events that will get steadily worse as time goes on. I do believe that it will have started to happened by about 2015-17. If the climate keeps getting warmer then famine will force people to migrate into more currently temperate areas. This will lead to open conflict with the people who already live there. Then we will have trouble which we won't be able to sort out.
I don't believe that political measures will be put in place which will help to avoid the catastrophe that is going to happen because there is too much 'Me, me, me, me' in the world and not enough 'All of us together'. Look at the Copenhagen talks. They failed miserably because everyone was waiting for the US to make a decision and when it did they cut us out of the equation, curried favour with China and glossed over the problem. So I don't see any change there. Big business had its hand in the deals and big business will rule the day until the end because money is God to these people and they control the government policies. Yes I am cynical as well as pessimistic and truly believe that the best we can do is to prepare to weather the storm by learning how to become robust and resilient enough to withstand the extremes of disaster. Oh and GM is definitely 'not' the answer to our woes.
Tell your story in your own words.
I would like to try to get as many people as possible to understand the reality of what is happening and to show them how to stand on their own two feet and survive in an environmentally friendly way. Permaculture is one of my interests as is generating my own energy from PV solar energy cells on the roof. Again its all about time, money, resources and having the opportunity to do it all without being made to jump through so many hoops.
The opinions expressed here are those of the respective posters and do not reflect those of the BBC or The Open University. The BBC and The Open University are not responsible for the content of external websites.