Why I became a Climate Reality Leader

For the past 15 years I have been a Liberal Democrat activist. I’ve been a local Party Secretary and Chair, fought local, Scottish, Westminster and European elections (and various referendums) as a campaigner and candidate, most recently as a Highland Councillor and Parliamentary candidate for Ross, Skye & Lochaber.

Following last years election I took some time out to reappraise my goals. There are a lot of areas for concern in the world but the question was where can I make a difference and what am I passionate about.

I concluded that I’m passionate about making things better in my local community and that the current political situation in the world is made considerably worse by what we are doing to the planet and without action it’s only going to get worse.

At this point I have to mention Brexit. Brexit is a really bad idea and I hold to that view. If Brexit can be stopped nothing will make me happier but it is necessary to look beyond the outcome whichever way it goes. Whatever happens we have to think about after.

For some years I’ve been interested in the work Al Gore has done through The Climate Reality Project. https://www.climaterealityproject.org

From the launch of the film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, from small beginnings training activists in his barn, to ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ and the worldwide network of now over 15,000 Climate Reality Leaders I’ve been interested, but concerned that much of the information presented was US focussed. However I was selected for, and last week attended, training in Berlin – training focussing on the issues here in Europe.

The event, was entertaining, affirming and empowering. I met many people from Europe and from elsewhere across the world., I heard about the issues from the stage and by networking with people from a variety of backgrounds both technical and activist. I even found another ex Liberal Democrat Councillor at the training!

I remain committed to keeping the UK an open, fair and tolerant place and hope it will be so. I remain active locally as a community councillor for my own village, a place where much work has already been done to improve the environment bringing jobs to the village and encouraging local action and participation.

I am now also a Climate Reality Leader, willing and able to educate and influence. It will be challenging but we can do it – we have to do it for all who come after us.

Two things particularly struck me and reignited my passion to try and make a difference. Firstly the move to solar power in Chile where there has been an exponential rise in use in a very short time. In 2013 Chile registered just 10 megawatts of solar capacity. By 2017 it was 2,183 MW. I understand that solar may not be the best example especially here in the north of Scotland (though it is 29C and sunny here today!) but it shows what can be done if a government is truly committed!

Secondly, and relating to the geopolitical issues we face at the moment, people migrate from their homes when it is no longer possible to live there. People left central Africa following the loss of Lake Chad. Syrians moved from their farming communities to the cities putting pressure on infrastructure when they could no longer farm due to drought and look what happened there! Migrants are now coming to Europe. Populations are moving elsewhere. One may conclude that Trump’s wall, political change in Europe and even Brexit are occurring in response to climate change. As a health and safety specialist I am struck by the need to look for root causes. May we not conclude that a root cause of our current difficulties is due to climate change?

I’m committed to education and influencing and to working together to make a difference. I’ve signed the Green Liberal Democrats motion to conference this autumn. I know it’s made some waves in the Party but I believe it’s a necessary debate and I hope it makes the cut.
I’ve been out in Berlin encouraging the government there to ditch coal fired power and I’ve already provisionally booked a slot locally to give a presentation. To make real change we need to bring the people and government with us. I’m just starting out but hope that in my new role as a Climate Reality Leader I can contribute to that.

* Jean Davis is a Liberal Democrat activist in the Highlands.

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  • Very interesting Jean. I wish I had half your energy!
    What’s the Green LD motion to conference? I’ve missed that.

  • Brexit, or rather the UK economy post-Brexit is another opportunity to change the direction of the UK economy and society, or we could ignore reality, just as we have done for the last circa 50 years… As I’ve noted before, do we want a sustainable UK society of circa 35m people in 2050 or one of 5m people; 80m is totally unsustainable given the perfect storm we are entering…

  • Ethicsgradient 3rd Jul '18 - 2:21pm


    I do urge you to approach climate change from a scientific, evidence-based view point. Let me state, I have a science back-ground and with regards climate change I have an open view point.

    The problem is the global warming/climate change debate became politicised. Unfortunately politics likes to work in definite’s and black or white positions. Whereas good Science always works in a culture of doubt and grey. All of science is built on the notion of ‘this is our best model to date to explain all observations that are repeatable, until new evidence does not fit the model and we nee to develop a new idea’. That is the scientific method (observation, hypothesis, testable model, result, reformulate new hypothesis).

    Non-science finds it difficult to deal with inherent doubt which always exists and so nuances of ‘may’ ‘suggestion’ get lost to be replaced as ‘it is’ and ‘fact’ when the evidence is not clear.

    I urge you to go to the primary source scientific papers rather than article pieces taking small bits from them and get rid of the them/us political language used for those supporting or critique-ing the theory human-caused climate change. It should always be about evidence rather than political principle or belief.(1/2)

  • Ethicsgradient 3rd Jul '18 - 2:23pm

    with regards to human-induced climate change. It is a far from settled matter and an evolving idea. The problem is you cannot have specialist because it is a theory about such a vast and dynamic system. You’d need to be a specialist in physic’s, oceanography, geology, atmospheric dynamics, biological nutritional cycling, a microbiologist (bacteria are the most abundant organism on the planet), advanced statistics, computer modelling and so on and so on.

    My personal view is the dynamics of planetary interactions are so vast, chaotic and dynamic, we don’t even know half of the affector inputs to put into a model to understand the effect results. I am very wary of scaling up the notion that CO2 absorbs heat radiation in a glass bottle to then applying that to a dynamic system where C02 makes up 0.04% of the atmosphere (O2 21%, N2 78%)

    Humans might well be having an effect. Its not clear although the is some evidence to support this. Personally I’d like to move beyond fossil fuels mainly because the are a finite resource and would like to move to a combination of Nuclear fission/renewables and eventually Nuclear fusion to supply a hydrogen ion based economy.

    See I’m not a ‘denier’ nor am I an evangelical ‘believer’ in human-induced climate change. Give me an evidence supported theory from a model which producing testable predictions which match the observable world. (2/2)

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