Name: Alia Rubenstein
What first triggered your interest in environmental issues?
From an early age, my parents taught me not to drop litter. I became more systematically interested as a teenager (in the 1980s) when I joined the RSPCA, and learned about the importance of protecting animals' natural habitats. As a member of the RSPCA, I first started to take campaign actions (such as avoiding battery eggs) and writing campaign letters. I was also a junior member of the RSPB, from whose magazine I first heard, in October 1986, about global warming.
What are you working on, concerned by, or motivated by at the moment?
On the specific matter of climate change, which I regard as an all-pervasive responsibility, I am trying my best to set an example from my own behaviour (by e.g. not flying or driving; minimising food waste and food of animal origin; using a renewable electricity company), but because I don't tend to thrust this in people's faces, it may not always be noticed.
At the same time, I am a campaigning member of numerous networks, including the following, some of which campaign exclusively on the environment and some on other issues as well. Prompted by these networks (some of which are more active than others), and also on my own initiative, I write letters to politicians, companies and others. I also attend demonstrations and events.
- Friends of the Earth
- Campaign against Climate Change
- 350 (a campaign to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to below 350 ppm)
- The Age of Stupid -- a network set up by the director of the film, Franny Armstrong. This mailing list has been particularly useful for adding links to other mailing lists.
- 38 Degrees
- The Prince's Rainforests Project
- The Iona Community
Good Energy (the electricity company I use; it has its own campaigning mailing list) Earth Hour Oxfam Christian Aid The Transition Town movement in my local area Tourism Concern The Robin Hood Tax Operation Noah (the climate change campaign part of Christian Ecology Link)
I am the administrator of a church group, and every time I send a message to the group I include an action point, usually from an organisation in the above list. I am also the church's eco-congregation representative.
What do you anticipate working on, or thinking about, in relation to environmental issues over the next 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years?
I intend to continue to do more of the same, and learn as much as I can. I may try for a more central role in one of the organisations. It is likely that over the next few years, as people become better educated about climate change and new technologies are developed, the goalposts will move and there will be far more I can do along the lines of setting an example.
How optimistic or pessimistic are you as you look at where we might be in 2020, and why?
I am not sure. There is potential for significant change in mindset among people in general, which is what is needed to enable the actions which are required to counteract climate change. Whether this happens will depend largely on the example set and the leadership taken by those in positions of power and prominence -- particularly politicians, the media, and the leaders of large companies. I am doing all I can to bring these matters to their attention.
Sometimes I experience a sense of foreboding, when I encounter something particularly depressing. An example is Mark Lynas writing about the likely loss of biodiversity that can be expected to result from climate change.
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