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‘To be or not to be : that is the question’

Shakespeare, c.1599


In my understanding, many of us around the world – perhaps most of us – are living miserably and/or dying prematurely. All of us, due to the combined threats of climate change and nuclear annihilation, are now in ‘extreme danger’. As such, the survival of humanity itself – all existing and future human life – is in question. We are truly up against a ‘sea of troubles’. If this is news to you, have a listen to this bulletin (or read the transcript), prepared in the style of BBC News’ morning bulletins familiar to listeners of BBC Radio 4.

The action taken to date by the institutions and peoples of the world has fallen well short of what is required to avoid disaster. These troubles are of our own making however; they are well understood; and, unlike Hamlet, we are not alone :  it is well within our power, collectively, to make ourselves and our family – the human family – safe, within the short time we have left to do so, if enough of us chooses to do so.


The Decency & Survival project is my effort to come to terms with the reality of our situation. Its aims are : to clarify in lay terms the situation we are in; to clarify the changes that need to be made;  to identify a list of everyday and ad hoc concrete actions that citizens need to take to effect the necessary changes in the time available; and to communicate the same to those of us who might be described as ‘already politically active’, as well as those who are ‘potentially active’.

Four main elements are envisaged : this blog; an illustrated guide, in electronic, and possibly print editions; a pamphlet; and a podcast series. More detail about each element can be found by using the links above. I have also created a public list on Twitter : Decency & Survival.

The project will be researched through a combination of fieldwork (featuring a UK road trip) – including observations, ‘expert’ interviews and group discussion – and desk research. The roadtrip is scheduled to start early September and be completed by mid October. Desk research and writing up is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

Support – financial and/or in kind – is requested, as a supplement to my rather limited means. Emails will be sent to my personal contacts and some of those around the regions whom I intend to visit.

PayPal users (and those willing to sign up) can visit to make a donation. Those not able to use PayPal, or who would prefer not to, may email me at Please indicate your email address and the amount you would like to donate, and I shall try to send you a form suitable for non-PayPal accountholders.


My name is Jonathan Oates, a writer, researcher, and teacher, until recently based in Bath, England.

I was born in Guildford and raised in south west Surrey, attending Church of England primary and middle schools, a state comprehensive and sixth form college, before reading Economics & Politics at the University of Bath in the mid 1990s.

My working life has included episodes in IT services, new media and advertising, market research, and higher education – in recent years at the University of Bath as a teaching fellow.

I also co-directed the experiments of Forum Bath and Democratic Accountability Bath, after returning to university to study International Public Policy Analysis in 2011/12.

I am, for the moment, a member of the Green Party, UCU, the PKSG, the AHE, and the WEA.

Media production and writing credits include Universe : a view from Bath of the past, present, and future (Pick of the Fringe, 2004), Test Tube (Cheltenham Festival of Science, 2004), A Sketch History of Bath (The Sketch History Company, 2009), and Housing, Recommodification, and Financial Crisis (MSc dissertation, University of Bath, 2012).