Stories of Change: The past, present and future of energy

Stories of Change Team Library item 16 Aug 2017

Interview with Bill Thompson

Bill Thompson is Head of Partnership Development with the BBC Archive. His interest in energy is one that we all share, a concern for the future of the planet, concern for sources of energy and, within the context of the BBC, the BBC has its own commitments to sustainability, to reducing energy use, to limiting carbon release from productions.

Stories of Change Project

My involvement with Stories of Change

My name is Bill Thompson and I’m Head of Partnership Development with the BBC Archive, so I sit on the advisory board of Stories of Change and I represent the BBC’s interest to be part of the project. But, of course, my interest in energy is one that we all share, a concern for the future of the planet, concern for sources of energy and, within the context of the BBC, the BBC has its own commitments to sustainability, to reducing energy use, to limiting carbon release from productions. All those aspects converge on this fascinating project. Using the BBC Archive to tell new stories My role within the BBC Archive is to look at ways of delivering greater value from that archive. It’s not just an archive of radio programmes and television programmes; there are scripts and documents and photographs and music scores, a massive variety of materials. I want the people who are working within the Stories of Change project to be able to draw on those materials to help them tell the new stories. So I see my role as facilitating access to the BBC’s Archive, improving awareness of what’s in there and, insofar as it’s possible, making that material available within the projects, the artistic, the creative projects that emerge. How I’ll work with Stories of Change My work splits really into two. There’s my role within the BBC where it’s largely about making the archive available to people. Then there’s my role as a journalist and someone who actually cares about these issues myself. I’m hoping to take advantage of my privileged position on the advisory board to be involved in a number of the projects as they emerge, in all three strands and with the artists. I have my own history as a storyteller, as a journalist who works in the area of technology I’m very concerned about the ways we increasingly use too much energy in our devices, the ways in which the devices we build make use of scarce natural resources, that their production and their disposal cause enormous issues for us. So I want to bring my professional life to bear and to work with the artists in the projects. I want to ask the oil companies … What question would I like to ask about energy and is there a person or institution I’d like to put that question to? It’s not difficult. The problem with being asked a question about energy is it’s so broad, there are so many possibilities. It’s like when you have a genie and they’ll only give you three wishes, that’s so few wishes.

Kim: Desert island.

Therefore that sort of forced choice is inevitably artificial. If I had to ask one person a question about energy it would be to take the Chief Executive of one of the big oil companies, companies that rely on fossil fuels, and ask them if they truly understand what it is that they are doing when they campaign against measures that would help preserve the biosphere. The future of Planet Earth: Optimist or pessimist? Pessimism of the will, optimism of the heart, I think, is the way that… if I look at what’s going on it’s very difficult to be optimistic because so many people seem to be so concerned about stopping progress – the vested interests, the energy companies, the politicians, they lack will or where they do have will it’s the will to do the wrong thing. But I refuse to give up on it. I refuse to believe that we will so totally damage the biosphere that we will be unable to recover from that, and so I think that we will find a way forward; I’d like to be part of finding that way forward.

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