Good news from the apocalypse


Dr Alexandra Jellicoe

Alex is an Environmental Health Scientist and Engineer turned storyteller and the founder of Monkey Wrench

This is a slow blog and an experiment in new media. Conventional media generate as much content as possible across multiple platforms which keep you coming back for more, driving up revenue through ads or direct subscription sales. And that’s fine – I have no specific objection to the commercialisation of information or ideas – I’m a writer after all and I like to get paid for my work (although I rarely do).

Here at Monkey Wrench we’re going to do things differently. We’re slow, deliberately simple and importantly we’re not going to latch onto faddist ideas simply to get you coming back for more. It’s a risky aspiration for a media platform because we’re doing the opposite of everybody else. We’re not trying to make money (Monkey Wrench is not-for-profit) but we are hoping to engage a wide audience. We’re not aspiring to provide you with constant neural connection, we’re old fashioned and hoping to offer a platform for contemplation and reflection. In this day and age, thinking is rebelling.

 Click bait news models are exciting and perhaps work for some subjects – updates on Brexit for example where reporting on the minutiae of the negotiations may promote a feeling of being fully informed, regardless of how little use the information is to the reader. Can they influence the outcome? Or does it feed into a new wave of anxiety economics we’re increasingly seeing? But click bait news models don’t work for the environment and this subject is too important to be an unthought of casualty of a capitalist media system. It needs deep thought and articles that connect the dots between us, our atmosphere and everything in-between.

 The fragmentation of reporting on environmental issues has disempowered a global population, leaving us feeling unable to take meaningful action to prevent a few stronghold governments and a handful of multinationals companies to account. Sure, there are some great books that will lay it all out for you - No Planet B, The Uninhabitable Earth and This Changes Everything (among others) and I encourage you to read all three - but if you haven’t deliberately sought out this knowledge then, mostly, you’re going to be in the dark. 


 Take press coverage on Arctic oil drilling. There’s plenty of discussion about the political issues – Obama prevented it, Trump is desperate for it, Shell and BP are paying everyone to ignore it and Greenpeace are trying to stop it. The closest the media coverage get to the IMPACT of arctic drilling in associated articles is the effect of drilling on local indigenous populations and the wildlife. And that’s it.

 ‘20% of the world’s unexplored oil and gas potential lies in the arctic,’ Oil Magazine reports excitedly, with further suggestions that Arctic melt will make exploitation all the easier. This rapid ice loss can’t come soon enough for the impatient Russians who have invested in nuclear powered ice-breaker ships. Insanity compounding insanity.

 I’m happy to be challenged about this, in fact, I’d welcome a debate but regardless where do you the reader fit in? Why should you give a shit? Why should you stop and read the article about the outcome of Trump’s pursuit of arctic oil? And the answer is because your life depends on it. Reported elsewhere, far away from articles about Arctic oil drilling, is the conversation about the devastating public health crisis we’re facing.

Here is a list of ten ways arctic oil exploitation and burning more fossil fuels will affect you;

  1. If you live in a city, you’re likely to be exposed to air pollution from cars/trucks which is associated with cancer, respiratory issues, heart disease, dementia and autism. 90% of people globally don’t breathe safe air.

  2. Global heating is and will increasingly affect local weather, shifting rainfall patterns and rendering some water supply infrastructure inadequate or obsolete. My local city is Bristol where demand for water will outstrip supply by 2025 – just six years’ time. Access to sufficient clean water is the cornerstone of good public health.

  3. Sea level rise will make parts of the UK uninhabitable with entire communities having to be relocated.

  4. Global agriculture relies on fairly predictable weather patterns without which crops will fail. #noplant19 trending on twitter tracks the huge swathes of American farmland as yet not planted with this year’s corn due to flooding and high rainfall.

  5. A warmer climate in Europe will encourage vector insects such as mosquitos to travel north transporting a whole host of deadly diseases with them. 

  6. Extreme heat will cause heat related illness and death.

  7. Extremes of weather events will cause loss of life from natural disasters but, as any aid worker will tell you, it’s not the disaster that causes the most loss of life, it’s the loss of infrastructure that provides clean water and shelter and the subsequent rapid spread of disease that causes the most loss of life.

  8. Increase in algal blooms release neurotoxins in seafood and fresh marine water, which can cause serious degradation of the brain, respiratory distress, and death in humans

  9. Oil has been a serious contributing factor to terrorism and nearly every war in the last hundred years. 

  10. And more recently, reports have emerged about military response to global heating in a world of diminishing resources with some grim projections (these reports are not peer reviewed but it is a consideration).

This is just a taster, there are plenty more ways burning fossil fuels will make us sick and lead to horrible painful deaths. And this is all you need to know.This warning should be appended to every article, publication, report or program that relates to fossil fuels like images on cigarettes packs. They should include all the people who have died of famine, lost their homes to natural disaster and the many, many horrible ways your life is going to be effected if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels now. We have eleven years to turn this around. It’s an emergency. 

 We’re not going to talk much more about fossil fuel companies here. Unearthed, Grist, Climate Desk and Carbon Brief are doing a great job of reporting on climate criminals so if you want to keep informed of their astonishing genocidal activities you can read about them there. Here at Monkey Wrench we’re going to explore how we can live without fossil fuel. And we’ve got great news - the little bit of digging we’ve done so far has got us excited because as it turns out, ditching fossil fuels and all the shitty values they represent can also solve a plethora of other health and social problems we’ve slid into over the last few decades. The climate crisis is not really about carbon it’s about our loss of connection. Convenience travel has disconnected us from each other and our landscape. Convenience food has disconnected us from nature and well, food! And convenience fashion has completely disconnected us from ourselves. And all this loss of connection has had astonishing detrimental effects on our health and wellbeing. 

 Monkey Wrench has been created to challenge damaging cultural certainties and explore the work of people across all areas of life who have dedicated their time, thoughts and passion into creating ways to solve the environmental crisis but, more importantly, to help us reconnect with each other and our natural world ,