“We have not inherited the Earth from our fathers and are hence entitled to use it according to our wishes. We have rather borrowed it from our children and have to maintain it properly until they can take over.”
Australian Minister of the Environment, speaking at OECD Ministerial Conference on the Environment in November 1974
How do we transition to a zero-carbon society quickly enough to avoid those terrible threats of a runaway greenhouse effect warming the Earth which climate scientists warn us that we currently are heading for?
This is the most important question of our time.
Over the last 30 years, scientists have been warning us repeatedly that our uncontrolled air pollution puts a heat-absorbing ‘blanket’ around the planet which causes more and more extreme weather disasters and disruptions in nature, which again affects in our food and water supply. We are being warned that if we ignore this problem, our entire civilisation is heading for collapse.
In response to the warnings, in particular since the issue became well-known to everyone when the United Nations organised a major climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, a minority of people – less than a fraction of the world’s population – has been campaigning and advocating for climate action, meaning: reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions, but so far without much to show for.
The graphs that show how concentration of CO2 particles in the atmosphere increases over the years has so far not shown any sign that the many efforts of the climate campaigners have had any visible impact in real life.
Many people are fully aware that this is a planetary emergency, but few people take the necessary steps to deal with the issue.
Climate action campaigners haven’t – yet – been able to gain consensus over their messages, and even strong words and constructive carbon reduction initiatives from political leaders like President Obama and religious leaders like Pope Francis have been insufficient to turn the ship around. Not even the global ‘Paris Agreement’ has done the trick. Our world is still on track to 3°C or 4°C degrees of global warming.
The more you look into it, the more it becomes obvious that our only hope and the only possible solution to this crucial question is if we are able to quickly build a strong social movement, a popular movement for sustainability and zero-carbon-pollution awareness.
To create public pressure on our political leaders, and corporate leaders as well, is the only way we will make them change the current policies and legislation, which not only allow the climate-damaging pollution, but even subsidise it with taxpayers’ money.
81 percent of 1,660 sustainability experts have said that they see activism as central to further progress on the carbon emissions problem.
Awareness-raising is key when creating a broad social movement. Awareness-raising begins with simplicity. Few and simple messages. However, as the climate action movement has already experienced, many of the really dangerous aspects of climate change are rather difficult to explain in a simple way.
As things progress, and as it is already beginning to happen, climate change in itself will be delivering more and more bad news and frightening pictures of human suffering to our tv-screens. But we also need action calls embedded in positive stories and narratives in order to make the broader population inclined to take action on climate change. People will only do that when they sense that there is a purpose to it – that everyone else is doing it too, and that they can see a light in the end of the dark tunnel.
But, for a start: Education – that’s Step Number One.
Education is normally what takes place in schools and universities. But in this case, we need to reach out to a much larger part of the population, and to do that, we will need some great communication skills and all the help we can get from media. In particular the public broadcasters could serve a special role here.
“We can endlessly get lost in the complexity of sustainable development, but the key to transformation is simplicity itself. Don’t take my word for it; just listen to leading politicians and business leaders.”
Once general carbon-pollution awareness is generally well established – and with that: awareness of the consequences of our carbon pollution – among a majority of the population, what we then need is: better co-ordination and collaboration between those who are working to create change – with the focus on empowering individuals and communities.
At this point and time, we are quite a few people on this planet by share the common goal that we simply have to do our best to climate safety for everyone. But to get enough people on board and speak with if not the same then similar voices, in a way that politicians and business leaders can understand, and in a way that matches the enormous wealth and power of the fossil fuel industry and its ‘vested interests’, we will not reach that goal until we learn to coordinate our actions and work together.
Collaboration, connectivity. That’s Step Two.
Building a popular community movement though education also means what each of us as individuals must show the good examples and take the first steps. We must go into action by starting with one self.
As consumers we create pressure and demand for carbon-neutral products, and based on our individual action, we have the potential to completely transform the energy sector.
Consumer awareness and pressure makes companies understand they need to take sutainability seriously if they want to stay in business. Public awareness and pressure also makes policians understand that they need to listen if they want to stay in power.
As this guy explains it straight forward:
This video had 46 million views on Facebook in a little over two months… which is remarkable for a two-minute video where a guy talks about the power that we have as consumers and why we must begin to make more conscious choices when we buy stuff.
That figure of 46 million views indicates that something is already changing in this direction. There are areas of the world where populations are already moving in this direction.
In Germany, for instance, the energy sector is being transformed because individuals are installing solar units on their house roofs. They do it first of all because it makes economic sense, which it currently only does because the German government has established a policy for promoting renewables.
Which again is an example of that we can’t expect to reach our goal of a zero-carbon society unless we manage to reform, restore or improve the political system so that Big Money from the fossil fuel industry doesn’t have control over our elected leaders.
The challenge is how to reach critical mass among the general population — in order to create resonance among the politicians — to care about future generations, and to care collectively about people who live somewhere else on the planet. Something like that is not a normal political quest. It will only be possible if we not only talk about our economy, but also about our moral obligation.
Be the change. That’s Step Three.
“Leaders of the visionary capability of a Mandela or a Gorbachev are actually in short supply. There’s an almost empty stage for international political leaders to step onto and really show the way forward to the rest of us.
But what will generate people to move onto that stage, I have no doubt, is public opinion. And so it is critically important that the NGOs and the public voice is heard through the media. I think that one could hardly overemphasise the importance of this.”
Sir David King, Special Representative to the Foreign Secretary in the UK on climate change
“Significant social advancements have always depended on ordinary people who came together to do extraordinary things. Whatever gains we have made toward human progress were not given, they were demanded. And I believe that the key to gaining whatever ground we can in the climate movement also lies with ordinary people — with us.”
Peter Burdon, lecturer in law at the University of Adelaide
The history of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela suggests that the path of resistance has often been essential to needed social change.
In an act of civil disobedience, biologist, author and mother Sandra Steingraber along with 11 others blocked business at a Inergy gas storage facility near Seneca Lake, New York in USA.
On 18 April 2013, she was sentenced to 15 days in jail for her trespass.
“I trespassed. It was an act of civil disobedience. Because I have deep respect for the rule of law, which Inergy company does not, I am willing to go to jail,” she said to the court before her sentencing.
We need many more Sandra Staingrabers. The current planetary emergency with threats of a runaway greenhouse effect justifies civil disobedience and direct action, because at the moment, as a species, we are pretty busy doing the wrong things.
Just as an example, in these months, 1,200 new coal-fired power plants are being proposed worldwide, three-quarters of them in India and China. Companies are spending the best part of $1 trillion a year (comparable to the US defence budget, or more than $100 for every person on the planet) to find and develop yet more fossil fuel reserves. And this happens while scientists keep warning us that we have no hope of holding the rise in the planetary temperature below two degrees unless global emissions peak by 2015.
Inspirational stories of resistance
“Yes, we want to declare Poowong coalmine and gasfield free.”
Agreement of an overwhelming 550 of the 600 landholders in Poowong in Australia.
In the northern part of the Australian state New South Wales, communities have set up months-long blockades, refusing to allow mining company trucks, machinery and gas drills on to properties.
Occupying carbon polluters
In December 2012, the Australian activist group ‘Quit Coal’ wanted to put a giant banner saying ‘Government Funded Global Warming’ on a cooling tower at Yallourn Power Station, protesting government support for brown-coal power generators.
Here is their story. And here is what The Australian wrote.
On 29 October 2012, 16 people scaled the chimneys of West Burton gas-fired power station in the UK, shutting it down and halting further construction. | nodashforgas.org.uk
Before you read on, if you haven’t seen it already, lean back and watch this two-minute trailer:
Fact is: The way the world looks like today the only way we can try to limit a global climate catastrophe that will affect, if not kill, our children and grandchildren, is by forming a popular movement that creates change and pressure from below. ‘Bottom-up’, as they call it. There is no other way. No policy makers will do the job for us, unless a majority of the population begins to put pressure on them.
And so begins the need to look into how we best step in with our individual efforts.
“Here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.”
Paul Hawken, author. Quote from his commencement address at University of Portland in May 2009
The text on this page is around 15 A4-pages long, if you were to print it. So please don’t do that, because it is not a finished “vision”, not yet — it is just an attempt to share with you some of those thoughts and brainstorm ideas I am chewing on.
Why would I want to share them? Because I believe we need to share, co-operate and co-create on ideas to make them grow stronger. I really need someone – like you maybe? – to contribute with advice on how we best can tackle these questions.
If you’d like to skip the next 14 pages and jump straight to the conclusion, just click here
Why we are unable to quit fossil fuels
Let me elaborate a bit on why the political system can’t fix the problem in the little time we have. To see global emissions peak by 2015 — most people will tell you it is impossible: It’s too complicated, there is too much money at stake, and that is the real problem we are facing.
The British newspaper The Guardian published a well-written article by Duncan Clark, based on the book ‘The Burning Question’. In an orderly manner it explains the problem very well. It explains the current insanity we are witnessing, and it underlines why we need to build a social movement for climate safety really fast if we are responsible parents to our children.
“With so much money and power bound up with oil, coal and gas, one thing seems clear: constraining global fossil fuel supplies will take bigger thinking, harder politics and – crucially – a whole lot more public pressure,” writes Duncan Clark.
As of now, according to polls, ‘public pressure’ is non-existent. Or rather: Pressure is there, but it comes from a tiny minority. Only between 10 and 15 percent of the populations in the developed countries are alarmed about climate change. Sustainability-conscious consumers only represent around two percent of consumers.
This is what we have to work with. For a start, 10 percent of all citizens on this planet is actually quite a large group of people if you are able to gather them: 700 million. So in principal we shouldn’t be discouraged by that 10 percent figure. There is something to work with.
“Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when 10 percent of the population are deeply committed to an idea, the idea will always be adapted by the majority of the society. Below 10 percent, there is no visible activity. Above 10 percent, the idea spreads like wildfire.”
Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview
Science Daily – 26 July 2011:
Minority rules: Scientists discover tipping point for the spread of ideas
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.
In America, more than a third of the population don’t even believe that climate change is for real. A survey found that, still in 2013, 37 percent of Americans believe global warming to be a hoax. Which is generally the main reason why political leaders are not acting. They can’t feel the urge, as long as their populations are not pushing them. And the core of the matter is: they really don’t have a democratic mandate to act. Their voters are not pushing them to act.
Democracy may work on a national level, but democratically elected leaders do now have sufficient mandate to take the kind of bold steps to slash the fossil fuel industry which are needed in the climate crisis we are confronted with. We need to create a new system. We need some sort of a ‘one-person-one-vote’ system on a global scale, which is totally independent of the current political power structures.
Luckily, we have this new tool called the Internet, and with that, we have a great new option. We can take action and fix the problem as individuals, locally, while we can be part of creating a global climate movement and exchange the best ideas that continuously crop up.
Lots and lots of people around the planet are of course already doing this, and using this philosophy already. Attempts to create global climate movements are happening. The American organisation 350.org appears to me to be one of the most successful of them at the moment, running several strong campaigns — I’ve listed some of them on my bookmarks page.
But even so, for some reason, we haven’t really seen any of them ‘catching the drift’ and take off at a truly global scale yet. They have not yet created a new ‘Climate-Gandhi’, Luther King or Mandela of our time.
The reason for this stems from something deeply embedded in human nature: our egos, and our habits. We are used to fight for our own individual lives and organisations, not for the livelihood of some future generations, some people who are not even here yet.
We need to find a recipe and get better at uniting the many good forces in the field. We need a meta-unifier-tool, a Climate reform tool. Then we would realise that we are already enough people on this planet who have enough common sense to transform the fossil fuel driven world, little by little, step by step, into one that runs on renewable energy — sun, wind, water dams. Not because of political ideologies, but simply because it makes common sense, in every way. Also economically. We are doing this not for any other reason than because it makes common sense.
Climate reform tool
To get better at that, we don’t have time to wait for someone to develop some fancy new ‘open source’ climate reform tool which would enable us to join forces and exchange knowledge. We’ll need to make due with what we have already on the Internet. Facebook, for instance. In many ways social media works pretty well. Many campaigners use it extensively already.
There is a .biz and a .info available as top-domain names, but why is there still no .climate? Climate change and the climate emergency is the most crucial and pressuring question of our time, and there are already thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of websites on this topic. But we can’t even get our act together and create a ‘.climate’ top-domain?
Climate change information providers could well use that ‘.climate’ section of the Internet – as they could use open, hi-tech, online and interactive, global platforms for exchanging and reviewing of climate safety information: the co-ordination, communication, monitoring, filtering, linking, ranking, benchmarking, maybe even voting.
With a Climate Reform Tool we would be able to make visible how large and powerful the social, popular and global climate movement is which is already here today, and in a shared effort we could be enhancing and empowering that peaceful energy and sustainability revolution which is already taking place today, based on our own individual actions, purchases and choices as consumers.
We should look on the immense economic benefits preventing catastrophic global warming could bring. Scientists have been warning us that the cost of our climate inaction will be high. A UN study in 2009, ‘Assessing the costs of adaptation to climate change’ calculated that on the current CO2 path, the damage will have to be calculated in trillions or quadrillions of American dollars. It makes economic sense to save some of that expense by making the necessary moves to burning fossil fuels.
Speaking of awareness, I’d like to make sure you are aware of this:
The problem: time
Our biggest problem is, with UN climate chief Christiana Figueres words, that “staggering global temps show urgent need to act. Rapid climate change must be countered with accelerated action.” We are in a terrible hurry now. We need to act today, not tomorrow, or next year.
As the matter of fact, it was 25-30 years ago we should have acted. The longer we hesitate and procrastinate – or only progress with tiny, incremental steps – the worse levels of climate catastrophe can be expected in the lives of our children and grandchildren.
The ice is melting, and vulnerable low-lying island states may have to be evacuated within a decade, according to the respected American climate scientist Michael Mann whose work contributed to the 2007 Nobel peace prize. Not far out in the future when we are all dead. Within a decade.
“We have passed a critical threshold”
In March 2013, a report from the world’s largest professional services firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, gave more precise indications of what we are up against.
Even if we were somehow able to double our rate of de-carbonisation, we would still be on track to hit a 6 degree increase by the end of the century. The only chance we have to hold temperatures to 2 degrees, would be to come up with a six-fold reduction in carbon emissions, which may be possible eventually, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. (…)
A reduction in carbon intensity of 5.1 percent per year is needed if we are to meet the target of limiting temperature rise to 2° degrees Celsius. However, last year, despite the economic slowdown, we saw a reduction of only 0.7 percent, which has been typical of every year since the turn of the century.
Triple Pundit: ‘Top Ten Effects of Global Warming on Business’
The Guardian: Business warned to prepare for catastrophic impacts
A paper led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US explained in 2009 that climate change is “largely irreversible for 1,000 years.”
As RealClimate has explained, we would need “an immediate cut of around 60 to 70 percent globally and continued further cuts over time” merely to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of CO2 — and that would still leave us with a radiative imbalance that would lead to “an additional 0.3 to 0.8ºC warming over the 21st century.”
And that assumes no major carbon cycle feedbacks kick in, which seems highly unlikely. In other words, “we’d have to drop total global emissions to zero now and for the rest of the century just to lower concentrations enough to stop temperatures from rising.
In September 2012, James Hansen, a climate scientist from NASA said: “There’s no other word for where we are now than planetary emergency.” With all the recent bad news about how our CO2-emissions cause climate change, with calculations about rising sea-levels, armed conflicts and ‘water wars’, insecurity everywhere, and with much too few people actually doing something, if anything, about it, it is pretty scary stuff.
Assuming no further greenhouse gases was added to the atmosphere right now, we would still have 40 years of heating ahead of us before the climate reaches equilibrium. But what our world leaders are talking about right now is not to stop the emissions. They discuss how to reduce the CO2 emissions by some percentages — not next year, or by 2015. No… by 2035. Maybe.
The United Nations is unfortunately of no use
“Even if the parties in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed to a bold, highly ambitious, and legally stringent global treaty for emissions reductions by 2015, this new treaty may arrive only in time to govern a world condemned to temperature increases at 4° degrees Celsius or more by 2100 — and the disastrous consequences which would result — unless more ambitious measures are undertaken to reduce emissions through this decade.”
“While the U.N. climate process works through the difficult task of creating a new comprehensive climate treaty by 2015 — and then works five more years to ratify it by 2020 — the people of the world are growing more and more impatient. Yet there is little that can be done, if anything, to speed this process along. Development of any new treaty is a long and cumbersome process fraught with derailments — especially when close to 200 parties are involved.”
» Thinkprogress.org – 7 March 2013:
40×35: A Zero-Carbon Energy Target for the World’s Largest Economies
Most countries are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change whose ultimate objective is to prevent dangerous human-induced) climate change. They have agreed that deep cuts in emissions are required, and that future global warming should be limited to below 2.0° Celcius (3.6° Fahrenheit) relative to the pre-industrial level.
But what is happening today is that political leaders are not keeping their promise. Our political leaders are failing and betraying us big time, since they have already allowed us to pass the socalled Tipping Point. Power plants all over the world keep burning coal and oil, cars continue to burn petrol, we keep filling the atmosphere with thousands and thousands of tons of carbon dioxide, and scientists now tell us we are heading for a global warming between 4 and 6 degrees within this century. What that means? Take a look at this National Geographic programme — it will give you some idea.
So, that is the problem. It is, in my opinion, outright depressing stuff. We don’t like to hear about it, so we look the other way and focus on our daily lives. It becomes a taboo in society, like death and divorce trouble is, in particular on Facebook: “We are trying to have a nice time here, so please! can we not talk about that now.”
A good story to tell
With more than seven billion people on this planet — 7,000,000,000 people …and a lot of them highly environment-conscious and energetic people, many of them supertalented, innovative and productive — there really is so much we can do. Our capacity to change the world is enormous.
That is, when we want to. When the will is there.
And, of course, if only we felt somewhat more connected to each other, to the Earth we live on, and to the future generations who are going to live here after us.
If we felt a responsibility as parents to our children, and their children.
I mean — are you maybe one of those parents who opened up a savings account for your kids?
Now why did you do that? To build up a little safety for them in the future? So you do care about their future?
Then what are you thinking in respect to the climate change caused by carbon emissions?
Don’t you think rising sea waters, draughts and ‘water wars’, a potential collapse of our economical system, as scientific reports have lined out for us, will have an influence on your childrens’ well-being in the future?
If you did, then what are you currently doing, actively, to ensure climate safety for them?
Saving up in the bank won’t really help them. If the banking system collapses and the world as we know it literally falls apart, it will look rather pathetic for them to know that you bothered to saved up some money on an account, but couldn’t bother to act on climate change when there was still a chance.
As far as I am concerned, savings accounts and all the other ways we try to provide for and protect our children no longer make any sense, unless we begin to act on creating climate safety on this planet.
Another obstacle we are up against is apathy. The people who know how serious the situation is and therefore already have given up. I hear see scientists writing that it is an imposible task to save humanity from a climate catastrophe. We are allegedly already over the cliff.
“The single most self-destructive act humanity has ever undertaken”
“We have, through human emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, indefinitely delayed the onset of the next ice age and are now heading into an unknown future where humans control the thermostat of the planet. Unfortunately, we have decided to change the setting on the thermostat from ‘Very Stable, Don’t Adjust’ to ‘Hell and High Water’. It is the single most self-destructive act humanity has ever undertaken, but there is still time to aggressively slash emissions and aim for a setting of ‘Dangerous, But Probably Not Fatal’.”
Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, to the Associated Press on 8 March 2013. | Read more
The attitude that its hopeless needs to be addresses. Because it paralyzes any initiatives. And so does the ongoing denial of the problem — promoted by people like Lord Christopher Monckton in Australia, and similar characters all over the world:
“Climate change fears are based on a scam driven by a deluded political class hell-bent on undermining fossil fuel industries.”
Lord Christopher Monckton, quoted in an Australian newspaper — not ten years ago, but on 8 March 2013.
We are up against very strong, paralyzing forces here. (More about denial and disinformation here). As a result, most of us are sitting around waiting, inactive, in doubt, or maybe hoping for some other people to do something — while the years go by.
The task of making millions, preferably billions, of ordinary citizens who live in the most CO2-polluting countries become aware that there actually is a problem… does seem like an impossible task.
But really, no, I don’t see why it should be impossible. We have a pretty good and unusual story here. We just need to get better at telling it!
My feeling is that a solution could still come from just a few people who take a new initiative. It could be you, or me. Or you and me together. It could be any of us.
To create global change, we don’t need to be many in the beginning. Think of the impact that global enterprises such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and Disney have had. All of them started out with an idea in one or two single minds.
“I can’t save the world on my own. It’ll take at least three of us.”
We need a couple of good ideas that we believe in and a very solid vision that is easily understood.
But no matter how good the idea is, without a general climate awareness around us, in the public, then such ideas and vision will be allowed to grow.
Without collective awareness on a much larger scale, those ideas will never be allowed to blossom to that point where they begin to have a real impact on the planet’s atmosphere.
So, we are back to awareness-raising. Everything begins with awareness.
For some strange reason, we have powerful web-companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, but none of them have yet bothered — or thought of — to create that web-tool that the world needs to combine all the local and national green movements into one global movement that unites humanity on what to do about this problem.
We need to do that now. Local and individual action must be combined with daring to think big. Really big. The scientists and the climate activists need help from the IT-world.
And from the artists — I’ll come back to that.
That might sound over-ambitious. Possibly. But I think the problems we currently struggle with arise from that we are not daring to be absolutely top-ambitious. This is the one time in human history where we need to to dream really big and aim higher than ever before in history.
We need do speak about the unthinkable: the zero carbon world which is waiting around the corner.
We must upgrade the rhetoric and begin to work for nothing less than a revolution – a ‘Zero Carbon Revolution’, a ‘Carbon Neutral Revolution’, a ‘Fossil Free Revolution’, or a ‘Climate Safety Revolution’.
We create the world with words, and it is time to use some powerful words in this respect. Something that is so powerful and reaches so many people that it creates massive change in the global carbon emissions over a very short span of time.
The message from scientists is that we should stop using fossil fuels. So, fine. Let’s do it. We remove carbon emissions where ever they are coming from. Not just some percentages in a distant future. Eradicate them entirely, and begin the journey of investing into this in a much more substantial way, now.
Rule No 1: Rely on individuals, not governments.
Once we have a short, strong, transparent vision that many of us can understand and share, a Carbon-free Manifesto, there really is no need to sit around waiting for some ‘Messias’ or Godot to come and solve our problem with global warmning.
Humanity as a whole has tremendous resources which we often waste away just for our own entertainment or comfort. We have technology for renewable energy. We have the internet. It is all there, right in front of our noses. And lots of action against carbon emissions is already taking place in so many communities around the Earth. | Read more
Globally, we are already counting carbon-conscious individuals in millions. After all, ten percent of seven billion is still 700 million people. We are strikingly many who share a feeling of urgency and a responsibility towards securing the livelihood of our children and grandchildren.
Individuals are creating the change already, in full speed. Over one million homes in Australia now have solar power installed on the roofs. Germany expects to get to to 40 percent renewable power by 2020, and how? Because of initiatives taken by individuals: 65 percent of the country’s total renewable power capacity is owned by individuals, cooperatives and communities. The transformation is created by individuals.
When governments, funders and investors can’t figure out to act responsibly, then we, the individuals, nowadays luckily have a new way we can do it: it is called crowdfunding. For instance, in January 2013, an American company made a splash in the renewable energy world when it introduced a crowdfunding platform that makes it possible for small, non-accredited investors to earn interest by financing clean energy projects.
» Read more
What we still seem to be missing, though, is connecting ourselves more efficiently, in even larger groups, in a more ambitious web-initiative with a much more global reach — across language barriers, across cultural, political and economical differences, from Campaign A to Campaign B and C — and thereby to make it visible to ourselves as well as to the whole world of decision makers in corporations and parliaments that we are a movement to be counted with now.
Thanks to the fact that we have the internet, that could be a relatively easy task, once we get the word out there, the short and clearly understandable “vision” or “manifesto”.
What we need to do, quickly, is build onto the many existing awareness movements and campaigns, and create a vision strong enough to gather them all, or at least as many as possible, and speak with only one, clear voice on the subject of carbon emissions: that we want them to end. By all means. Now.
No, not in 2000-and-something. Now.
The last ten years of getting nowhere have shown us that we’ll need to bypass the old-fashioned political structures and the organisations surrounding them. They are not able to help us. Instead we must focus very directly on the individual. You and me. Our neighbours. Our family.
By starting with ourselves and how we act as consumers, we actually possess all the power we need to create the kind of change which this blue planet needs to see from us.
Yes! to a carbon-free future. YES! to renewables. Now!
But can we demand that? Yes we can.
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
Think of it this way: For the price of the Iraq War, the U.S. could have gotten halfway to a renewable power system, (according to David Roberts in Grist on 8 April 2013). So don’t tell us these things can’t be done. It is all a question of will.
“Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, quoted on the home page of United Nations Environment Programme
In America, gofossilfree.org is already doing it among shareholders and investors: trying to create a movement to divest from fossil fuels. But up til now, it has been limited to being a national US movement. Recently it spread to Holland. We need to integrate that movement, while thinking globally, thinking 192 nations, and multi-languaged.
We must be ambitious because we are in a hurry.
The green energy campaigns and awareness websites help. But things are not changing with the speed that we need to see. With Katharine Hayhoe’s words, the atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, we must “aggressively slash emissions” now. Everyone is being somewhat careful with not painting the picture too dark. Taking a step at a time. Everyone is watching what others are doing, contemplating, discussing, meeting one another at endless streams of green conferences. Being “realistic”. The experience being that scaring people typically only creates apathy, not action.
Give it a thought: What would happen if for a moment we didn’t care about whether we are “realistic”, but simply listened to our own intuition? — I mean, that voice inside which tells you that something is going terribly wrong on this planet at the moment… Carbon emissions are potentially destroying our childrens’ safety and right to a decent life, and even so, carbon emissions are not stopping, not even slowing down. Governments and the press are not ready to declare this a ‘planetary emergency’, not yet. They are not even really concerned. Everyone continues out the wrong track, as if they were deaf, dumb and blind.
Switching off the light for one hour here in March, and joining Earth Day in April, yes, it is all good — it is part of an awareness-raising process. But considering the urgency of this matter, the ‘planetary emergency’, James Hansen talks about, it is much too smooth, nice and polite to think that once-a-year campaigns will achieve what we want within the timeframe that we have. We need to address the structures that create the problems in a more direct manner, using a more direct language.
Civil disobedience is one way. Another could be to simply declare, loud and clear, to each other and to the world that we are demanding carbon emissions to stop now. If we made plans and mobilised for a common sense ‘zero carbon revolt’.
What would happen if we became as radical as to demand what currently appears to be ‘the unthinkable’, but which actually is possible: begin boycotting products which clearly are polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, and to promote everything which is produced on 100 percent renewable energy, or which even cuts CO2 from the atmosphere?
We are depending on our fossil-driven machines and devices. But for some time, we could live without them, and give the global business world a serious wake-up call.
Put the car in the garage for a month. Nothing would happen from that. But if we all do it in the same month, you watch: It will become breaking news.
NO! to carbon pollution. YES! to clean energy.
It’s quite simple. It can be done.
And even if that global ‘sparkle’ we were hoping to light quickly fades out again, what will we have lost then? Nothing! There can only be gains from simply trying. We will still have increased awareness of carbon emissions and green energy, and we will have put renewed attention to finding the right solutions. Every tonne of CO2 kept out of the atmosphere means less warming period.
The fact we need to understand and act on is: These fossil fuel companies won’t stop selling it until we stop buying it. Exxon, for instance, can’t why there shouldn’t be an abundance of oil and gas far into the future. In a forecast that might make economists happy but environmentalists fret, Exxon’s two chief products, oil and natural gas, will “be abundant and affordable enough to meet the rising demand for energy in the developing world as the global middle class swells to five billion from two billion and buys energy-hungry conveniences such as cars and air conditioners” – as Exxon sees it.
» More about this particular topic on www.environmental-expert.com
“We need really good ideas to try to close the gap between high incomes and low incomes around the world while at the same time doing so on the basis of really targeting and trying to achieve environmental sustainability. Right now there isn’t very much pressure for politicians to do that. We need citizens’ movements.”
Robert Engelman, president of the Worldwatch Institute in Washington D.C., co-author of the book ‘State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?’
“It is common sense that we need to act”
“We are without doubt the first generation in history that has the power to connect behind a common purpose. The empowerment of individuals. The empowerment of organisations and communities. And there probably can be no greater common purpose than protecting and preserving the place that we live.”
Andy Ridley, CEO, Earth Hour
The Earth Hour campaign is not about saving energy by turning out the light for an hour. It is about creating an hour of inspiration to show that we care about the planet, explained Andy Ridley in his presentation in Singapore, where he shared his vision of the campaign which took place in over 150 countries in 2013, literally all over the planet.
“Young people have most to gain from climate change mitigation and university students are in a prime position to take a lead with their institutions. They have the opportunities to be the progressive politicians that we currently lack.”
Who should be approached?
Three specific groups should be given special attention:
Firstly, what are the young people doing today? Where are they when it comes to carbon emission questions?
Can’t we power up the youngsters? The generation in the age between 8 and 29 – I know many of you are already deeply concerned, and involved. All over the planet. But… could you do more?
What would it take to create a new youth revolution among the 19-to-29-year-old, like the one the Western world saw in the 1960’s, to help push forward the urgent movement towards creating a carbon-neutral civilisation on this planet?
We should probably especially reach out among those that are in late high school, university and college. Personally I didn’t learn much in my last year in high school, because together with three class mates, I was too busy writing a musical which was to turn the whole school upside down. It was a musical about the environment and the planet, entitled ‘The Destruction’. We worked on it intensively a whole year, and then had three hour-long evening performances at our high school with full house. The multimedia-show was recorded by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, and the photo of the four os us made it to the front page of the city’s leading newspaper. We were involved! Day and night, for months.
What we are currently looking at is ‘The Destruction’ in real life, rolling out in front of our eyes. The planet needs that we stop digging up and burning oil and coal — and the older generations of our time have invested too much in that system to actually allow that to happen. But the youngest generation, they have nothing to lose. They own next to nothing. And they are able to look at all this with fresh eyes. They have not invested family fortunes in that fossil-burning-system which the industries are depending on. Most have not even bought a petrol car yet.
They want jobs, and they would like to have a job in a booming new green industry. They are also many in numbers, especially in India, Iran, Africa — and what could be the most important aspect of them all: they are the ones who must live in that messed up world which the older generations currently are destroying with their uninhibited emissions of carbon in the atmosphere.
Last but not least: The young ones, those of you in the age between 8 and 18, can influence your parents. As the matter of fact, they might be the only people who can actually have the powers to reach them and influence them to a point where they begin to change their consumption habits and behaviour, choosing renewable energy instead of fossil fuel in everything they do.
Carbon-caused weather catastrophes? No thanks! Renewables? Yes please!
Australia actually already has its own YES! to renewables campaign running. How is it in your country?
Like young people in the 1960s had not been asked if they wanted a war in Vietnam, the youth of today has not been asked if they liked the idea of filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide when we know that we should stop doing it.
In those days, it was the resistance against the US warfare in Vietnam which united the youngsters internationally, but they had something more, then. They had a very powerful secret weapon to help create the movement and the awareness: music. They had creative, talented musicians who carried forward those messages of the movement, of “peace, love and understanding” and the rest.
The youth has a voice. We need to hear it now!
“Climate change is the most pressing and threatening issue facing us. Through lack of understanding from generations before us, we are now having to fix it. And how could we do this without education? However, yet again, our government — part of the generation who bear more responsibility for this problem — intend to not only fail to act on climate change themselves, but to obscure the truth, and any chance young people have to act.”
Esha Marwaha, a secondary school student from the Heathland School in Hounslow, UK, 19 March 2013
Where are the artists today, when it comes to carbon awareness?
Isn’t this climate crisis really something to ‘Come Together’ over? Who will write the ‘Come Together’-song of our time?
Speaking ‘planetary emergency’, how about turning the next Eurovision Contest into a Climate Safety Eurovision Contest – and let Europe vote on which song is the best European ‘Climate Safety Song’ of the year?
What are the music festivals all over the world doing? Why aren’t they stepping into the battle, making a special effort to help creating awareness and activities?
Lots of initiatives could be taken in the arts world. In the media world. Climate Safety Innovation Awards. A TED-special on Climate Safety. Daily Climate Safety theme pages in the newspapers. Daily 20-minutes tv programmes on the tv news channels.
I mean, come on: the two words ‘planetary emergency’ are in play. These are extraordinary times. We need to take extraordinary measures, and everyone who can, everyone who has a festival, a concert hall, editorial influence… everyone who can needs to step in now.
With the amazing communications skills and potential there is in the music and arts world, I believe this could be a great place to kick off this campaign.
Are you ready to rock?
Take a moment and lean back to watch this old hit song by Midnight Oil.
It didn’t change the world, as far as we can tell today. But even so, it might give you some inspiration. I believe that what the world needs now is not just one new ‘We are the World’-song with that same energy and drive af Midnight Oil’s ‘Beds are burning’. But many of them. In many different languages and music styles.
But where are the musicians and artists to compose it?
Who will take up the challenge to make a ‘We are the Earth’ song of our decade?
Musicians tend to pop up when ever there is a natural disaster in a poor country, or a school shooting in the US. But why aren’t they using their influence to spread the word about climate change?
I am puzzled about that, actually.
Bob Geldof, Bono, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney? What are you guys up to these days?
How about stepping in and giving a helping hand here?
Madonna? You surely have enough wealth and influence to make a huge impact.
Lady Gaga? Justin Timberlake? Phil Collins? Rolling Stones?
With help from the right people we could gather all the most influencial music heroes of our time for creating a gigantic world hit that can break waves and carry the message across to all homes around the planet: We need to stop that burning of carbon. And we can do it, if we just say we’ll do it.
Rappers! You’ve always been there when there was a problem that needed attention. Why aren’t we hearing your voices rap about the many outrageous scandals we are witnessing these years? And about what is the right thing to to?
Oscar receiving film actors getting global tv airtime doing your thank-you speeches for the statuette… Where are you when it comes to using your skills and your fame to secure your children’s future?
Authors who can write brilliant books and film manuscripts that touch us, move us, give us insights and make us understand. Where are you?
More on this topic: Authors and global warming
Leading artists of our time: you simply need to step up onto the Climate Change Stage now — the stage for securing the climate of this planet and the future of humanity by stopping the carbon emissions. Because you hold a powerful key to open up communication that reaches and touches people.
More on this topic:
Uprise among artists against ‘dirty oil money’
“Respect existence or expect resistance”.
Thirdly, after having involved the youngsters and the artists, we must engage with the consumers. Us who buy things. We all do that. So let’s meet the consumers where they are. In the shops. In tv. In the magazines and newspapers.
There is a saying that goes: “Respect existence or expect resistance”. It is time to create a global, consumer-based resistance movement based on that principle. The oil industry does not respect the existence of our future generations. So we must step up and show resistance. Many activists and organisations are already working on this, but we need go gather the forces across borders and organisations.
As individuals, we can only change depressingly little to make changes in the atmosphere of this planet. As organisations, we can maybe do a bit more. But as consumers, hey! — in the industralised and modern civilisation, we, the consumers, actually have all the power in the world.
When we consumers group together and take a stand, when we demand something, disapprove of something, make a movement or a trend, the whole world suddenly takes notice. And when we go as far as to boycott a product, the shop keepers, the industry and the politicians take us seriously and change their policies as well as their production.
But as consumers we only act in groups when we have become aware of something specific. Which is why… like I started saying initially, everything boils down to that it must begin with creating awareness.
As a united consumer-group we are able to make that very simple and yet very strong financial statement: We only want to buy goods which have been labeled or certified that they have been produced in a CO2-neutral way.
A recent Australian survey indicated that knowing a company is mindful of their impact on the environment and society now makes over 70 percent of (Australian) consumers more likely to buy their products or services.
The world’s most comprehensive study of brands, showed in 2010 that the biggest shift in consumer behaviour in the two decades of the study’s history was emerging consumer values such as a demand for transparency, earned trust, and a search for a sense of purpose.
But how to demand products produced on 100 percent renewable energy, when they don’t exist in the market yet?
By creating the demand for them. By moving in where the consumers are and showing that it is possible to make such demands. Which means… raising funds for advertising, or getting help from ad agencies pro bono — advertisement business people, where are you in all this? (Don’t you have children?) — so that full page ads, powerful tv commercials, and webbanners, can help create a momentum for this: A consumer movement with a new, simple demand for clean energy.
Demanding a type of ‘carbon footprint’ label on all products. Pinpointing the ‘carbon criminals’.
It is possible to change the production to renewable energy, and a few companies are pioneering and doing it already. We need to put those companies up on the piedestal and buy everything from them — support their business by tearing their products away from the shelves.
A smartphone app, Buycott, allows shoppers to swipe barcodes to check whether conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch were behind a product on the shelves. The app is the work of one Los Angeles-based 26-year-old freelance programmer, Ivan Pardo, who has devoted the last 16 months to it.
Forbes – 14 May 2013:
New app lets you boycott Koch brothers, Monsanto and more by scanning your shopping cart
By Clare O’Connor, Forbes Staff
Power America with renewables
“You could power America with renewables from a technical and economic standpoint. The biggest obstacles are social and political — what you need is the will to do it.”
Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and the main author of a study by the Stanford engineers which showed how New York State — not windy like the Great Plains, nor sunny like Arizona — could easily produce the power it needs from wind, solar and water power by 2030. In fact there was so much potential power, the researchers found, that renewable power could also fuel our cars.
New York Times – 23 March 2013:
Life After Oil and Gas
By Elisabeth Rosenthal
Active comsumers: Two percent
“Sustainable consumption consists at present almost entirely of “supply push” rather than “demand pull”. (…) The number of people taking sustainability seriously has remained stubbornly low for the past 20 years. Perhaps two or three consumers in every 100 are actively trying to minimise their environmental footprint on a consistent.”
The Guardian – 7 March 2013:
Selling sustainability to consumers: an uphill battle?
To move towards a sustainable economy, consumers need to want it and that’s a challenge for communication professionals
The tricky part: how to get the word out there.
When one musician in 1985 could make the whole Western world talk about Africa by mobilising the pop world to do something about the images from Ethiopia and Sudan he had seen on tv, and raise million of dollars by creating a song called ‘We are the World’, then why shouldn’t something like that be possible again? And in an even bigger scale…
The ‘Planetary Emergency Concert’, broadcasted world-wide, 100 percent powered with solar and wind energy, sponsored by crowdfunding and the world’s united solar and wind industry…
We have the Internet to make everything happen much faster than ever. And this time around, the campaign is not for solving a problem in one corner of a continent, however urgent and dramatic that problem was at the time — this time it is about solving a global problem which involves all of us as well as future generations of humanity. It is about the air we breathe.
The South Korean rapper Psy broke all records on YouTube with his first video, ‘Gangnam Style’, which has been viewed more than one billion times, and his second video had 140 million views in its first week. Why should it be impossible that Psy would commit his third video to talk about climate change?
To take it one step further, we need not only to do what Bob Geldof managed to do with the hit song ‘We are the World’ in the 1980s, and the tv-transmitted Band Aid concerts, we also need to look at what the war in Vietnam meant to the creation of a youth movement back in the 1960s. We need to mobilise not only petitions, websites, advertisements and commercials, we need songs, films, artistic expressions of all kinds, and news agencies stepping in with helping hands, massive demos – and many more banners just like the ones we saw in Washington DC in February.
Once we have involved the most creative and talented people on this earth to develop games, songs, musicals, art productions, books, films, articles, blogs… When we have the most influencial artists and thinkers of our time stepping giving a hand to solve the climate crisis, then we need just a couple of more things.
Humanity needs to evolve its awareness and consciousness
“The question is, is it moving fast enough and the answer to that is definitely no. We are getting to the point in which we are coming up to the deadlines in which global emissions must peak according to science. So all the alarm bells are ringing. If this is not the wake-up call, I honestly don’t know what it is.”
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in The Guardian on 11 February 2013: ‘Climate change isn’t a challenge of the future – it’s here’
Tax, when used wisely, is not evil.
Since what we don’t like is the burning of oil, coal, gas and petrol, because of what it does to our atmosphere, our common trans-national air space, then here is what we need to do: we need all governments to instantly put a substantial tax on that burning, if they haven’t already done it.
Some countries do it with cigarettes and alcohol: Put a high tax on it, in order to make people use less of it.
In the light of the carbon crisis, I really don’t understand how it can be like this, but apparently in most countries, that money which we all pay as taxes from our salaries to the state is not only used to pay for public health services, road maintenance, libraries, public broadcasting, police work, and so on. Believe it or not, your money is also being spent on supporting the oil industry.
In the middle of that carbon crisis which we now have come to understand that our planet is in, that is just so upright wrong. The governments, all governments, world-wide, will have to stop subsidising the oil industry now. We are talking about with 1.9 trillion US dollars, according to the IMF. Instead of subsidising, they will have to put a heavy tax on all carbon emissions and anything else that makes our atmosphere hotter.
What will that mean? That everything will get more expensive? Yes, most likely. Petrol for your car will get more costly. Electricity too. But it doesn’t have to be for more than a little while.
The government of Australia has been doing it: They implemented a carbon price which sees large companies pay for their carbon pollution, and they invest the money raised from the carbon price in renewable energy projects. British Columbia in Canada has one as well. Even China is planning to implement a carbon tax in 2014.
The EU has been trying to do it, but so far not with much success, unfortunately. The fossil fuel industry is apparently far too powerful and is doing all sorts of tricks to obstruct that initiative.
Business people generally don’t like such taxes on pollution. But sorry, folks, taxation is a tool which when used in an intelligent way by intelligent people can enhance societies and create better quality of life for its citizens, including the business people. The Scandinavian Model is an example of that.
So, sooner or later, we’ll need to get the legislators involved.
Tim Worstall, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, explains it very well, I think, in his article in Forbes on 26 May 2013:
“The argument is all about prices. Climate change will obviously bring costs in the future: that’s bad. Burning fossil fuels right now obviously has benefits right now: that’s good. But the essence of our problem is that we’re getting the benefits now by storing up the problems which will cost everyone in the future. That’s the very crux of the matter. (…)
Therefore what we want to do is have the emissions of CO2 burning where those benefits are greater than the future costs. And we don’t want to burn fossil fuels where the costs in the future will be greater than the benefits now. How can we do this? Simply by adding a carbon tax to fossil fuels.”
The Eighth Thrilling Fact About A Carbon Tax – “Carbon tax is a complete and total solution to climate change.”
Time for an eight-minute video-inspiration. Enjoy:
“The people who write the songs and the culture of the day are going to change society more than those who are in charge of the policy and the law.”
Joi Ito, Disruptive Technology Innovator
“The decision makers are really not acting on what is in the best interest of the public.”
Arianna Huffington, New Media Entrepeneur
“The problems facing our world are so large that they demand disruptive thinking.”
Skoll World Forum
Why don’t we just do it?
What is holding us back from being much more radical in our decisions when it comes to stopping carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy? We know what is holding those back who profit from the oil industry, but the rest of us — what is holding us back? Why aren’t we upset and involved enough to have created a kind of consumer revolution long ago? Why aren’t we seeing crowds of people advocating for it everywhere?
Fear? Fear of what it will mean in our daily lives, here and now?
Major transitions like what we are talking about here will of course mean job turmoil. It is bad luck for those who are currently employed in the fossil-based industry. That is, according to Pricewaterhouse Coopers, nine million people in America alone.
But wake up! Shit happens when you are in the wrong business at the wrong time. Those music companies which didn’t understand what the invention of the internet would mean to their CD-selling business also were forced go out and look for new jobs all of a sudden, much by surprise. No one stepped in to help the dying CD-selling business. That is the way the cookie crumbles when new technologies move in. And when oil wells run dry, as they will, eventually.
There is a great advantage ahead of us, if we can pull it through. When putting all that money we get from taxing the fossil-fueled industry into supporting initiatives which produce clean energy from wind, sun, rivers and sea waves, and support those innovators who are busy working on how to enhance these technologies, we are also creating lots of new jobs.
Within just a few years, it will become dramatically cheaper to use clean energy. The more we use of it, the cheaper it will get. And we will all benefit from this. It won’t take long before zero-carbon, sustainable and renewable energy becomes cheaper than the old, polluting fossil-based energy. We will have solved the problem.
So again… why don’t we just do it?
Because even if you and I might agree that this is a good idea, it still doesn’t mean that everyone else does. As we have seen it so often, over and over again: In particular all those many people who have put a lot of their money into all those things that are oil-, gas- and petrol-driven, or who profit from selling the substances, do not agree with us one bit, even if they are fully aware that their businesses cause global warming and human catastrophes. They are addicted to the game of drilling, selling, producing and profiting. As things stand, they have the real political power in the world today, because they sit on the money. Politicians respect them, fear them, need their support.
So then what?
Then we pull out the best card we have, and a card which proved efficient in Egypt recently, when people were fed up with the dictator regime: We use the Internet.
We create a central “square” where all similar-minded individuals from the whole planet can meet and talk to one another, and not only with one another, but speak with ONE voice to those people in power.
I mean, climate change scientists, activists and advocates… look at us! So many good forces, so much energy, all around the globe. But so little co-operation and co-ordination between us all. It is a real problem that we are all overflowed with information, and neither Google or Bing are helping us with sorting what is the most important or the most relevant for us.
While researching and thinking about the problems humanity is facing, I have – simply because I couldn’t resist – started collecting information for pages with titles such as “What we all can do”, “What green activists can do”, “What teachers and headmasters can do”, “What governments can do”, and so on. I’ve also listed some bookmarks to good ideas, strong campaigns, etc.
But all this kind of information needs to be structured in an interactive, open source database, so it is not just the work of one single person, but of hundreds, thousands, of contributors from all over the world.
A bit like appropedia.org or peswiki.com, but then again different, because we don’t need more information, we need less and better information. We need to find ways of sorting the information, ranking it. Like in an edited magazine, we are in need of finding ways to create qualified filtering.
A web-based ‘open source’ ranking platform, where all good forces can contribute in each their own way in creating clarity instead of confusion, would be a ‘rocket booster’ to the many who work for stopping carbon emissions to avoid a climate catastrophe. Collective ranking, benchmarking, transparency of statistical data, voting — “democracy at work on a border-crossing scale” — is the way forward. To create a common ground where business world and innovators meet grassroots activists and individuals with common sense, in numerous languages, and where the really important stuff (most seen / most voted for) is always floating on top of the page. For instance:
• Listing relevant green information for a specific city, a region, a country, or even a household, ranked according to who’s best, who’s cheapest, who’s doing it best, who’s ahead in the field?
• Which was the most important article of the week?
• Which is currently the most interesting greenovation?
• Who has the best idea of the year?
• Which company, school, university, city is doing best when it comes to sustainability measured on five different indicators?
• Which city has the highest percentage of Zero Emission households?
• Which ‘green’ websites are most useful within specific fields, for instance within architecture, science, cars, solar panels, legislation, culture, etc?
• Which other ranking sites are there, and which are the most user-friendly or interesting?
• Which petitions for climate awareness are running at the moment — and which ones currently have most signatures?
• Which countries are standing out with their policies?
• Which country currently runs on the highest amount of renewable energy, measured per citizen?
• Which country has implemented carbon tax, and how much is it?
• Who do we want to be our spokesperson? Who will be our Global Leader for Climate Safety? We need to indentify a spokesperson in the physical world, an influencial person who would represent the climate action movement as a global leader for climate safety. Someone who would be able to do for the world, or for their nation, what Churchill did for the United Kingdom back in the late 1930s: to get everyone to mobilise and to work together regardless of differences of political opinion.
This world has seen great leaders who were able to convince large groups of people to enter a path of resistance and revolution. Like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela. Dreamers and visionaries who created movements based not on economy or politics, but on moral issues, justice, common sense. And they succeeded in making changes in society.
Already active in the space we have personalities such as Al Gore – one of the leading, global spokespersons for awareness in this field for many years. But in a global context, with an ambition to create consensus across borders and cultures, maybe we don’t need an American politician as our spokesperson? Maybe we need a brilliant artist? A nobel laureate?
We have, just as examples, biologist, author and environmental activist Sandra Steingraber, author and divest-activist Bill McKibben, Canadian David Suzuki, retired NASA-scientist James E. Hansen. Dr Vandana Shiva. A young green activist like Erin Schrode.
Anti-apartheid hero, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Archbishop Desmond Tutu came out with this commentary urging divestment from fossil fuels. Britain’s Prince Charles made a powerful speech calling on his audience of global business leaders to take tough choices over climate change and capitalism even if it made them unpopular.
Christiana Figueres has stepped down as the UN’s Climate Chief, but she would not be a bad bet either. She gave a remarkable speech in St Paul’s Cathedral in London in May 2014.
Maybe you have an idea of who could be our ‘Climate Churchill’? (Post it below, in the comments field)
What if we had a web-based democratic, one-person-one-vote voting system to nominate candidates and decide on a spokesperson?
Or is what needs to get done to establish a new global political party? A political movement?
It would seem crucial that we stay away from party politics’ usual left-versus-right kind of discussions. Climate change crosses all the stereotype political boundaries. We must be able to attract both right and left wing voters, and stick to one single goal: to stop the carbon-induced climate catastrophe at whatever cost. By all means.
Many of the above questions are being answered by different organisations around the world. But not in one place, not structured across the borders between sectors, not searchable.
We seem to lack that technologically magnificent website – think ‘The Facebook for Climate Safety’ – which could filter, benchmark and rank all the activities and all the ‘noise’ from us, the thousands and hopefully soon millions of people on the planet who are engaged in the project, and through smart technology turn that big melting pot of information into something that is useful, easy to overview, understandable, simple to read, and even multi-languaged.
Benchmarking in a transparent and scientific manner is important. It could be the feature which would turn such a website-tool into a real ‘killer-app’. Because we all like to compare ourselves with others, and you see all these thousands of award ceremonies every year where humans pad each other on the shoulder for their achievements in a specific field. We should probably create an annual and truly global ‘Green Oscar’–‘Green Nobel Prize’ event based on the data, also as a way to get tv spotlight on the whole thing.
In short, the global online Climate Safety Toolbox is a necessity for this vision to be carried out, and I’m afraid it will not be possible to develop such a software unless we are able to get some of the best web-developers on the planet on board for this quest.
But… hey, wouldn’t it be possible that also web-developers would be motivated to step into the fight now and do something for their children and grandchildren? Young people like Ev Williams and Biz Stone, for instance, who invented Twitter.com, and who allegedly currently are keeping themselves busy with inventing a new, free app that helps people ‘do good’, and things like that… Couldn’t you guys for a moment put down what you got in your hands and step in to help humanity deal with this carbon problem which threatens our common future?
“We are what we think. All that we are, arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.”
Gautama Buddha (563–483 BC), teacher and religious leader. Translated by T. Byrom, Shambhala Publications, in 1993
I believe these are the steps we should take:
• Raise awareness. This is already happening, but it could be more and better co-ordinated, globally. We need to go from 10-20 percent of the population to 60-70 percent of the population in months, not years. So we need to focus on empowering individuals and communities.
• Make a short, consumer- and youth-directed vision of simply saying Zero carbon.
Dare to be simplistic and demanding.
Involve artists. Create music events.
Collect funds for advertising campaigns.
We all need to step up our rhetoric and be bolder in our action.
We need to use words such as ‘reform’ and ‘revolution’ rather than just ‘transition’. The energy reform that entirely replaces fossil fuels with renewable energy must happen within the next decade. A slow transition has already started, little by little, growing a few per cent a year, which is much to slowly. Wind turbines generated 4.6 per cent of the world’s electricity in beginning of 2016, and is expected to generate around 5.0 per cent when we enter 2017. So wind went up 0.4 per cent of total electricity generation in 2016. Scientists are telling us we need to speed this process up to avoid calamity. We have to make this transition happen much faster than anyone thought it was possible.
• Enforce it with a fantastic website, which includes a state-of-the-art global-capacity multi-languaged ‘master database’ and a ‘Global Climate Safety Toolbox’ for climate safety information, communication, and voting.
Involve world-leading internet companies in setting it up.
Use it to connect, inspire and empower the ‘already converted’ — with toolboxes for petitions, events, campaigns, movements, with transparent statistics, benchmarking facilities, a Meta-Directory of Green Directories — and equally important: use it to create voting system which allows millions of individuals to speak with one voice — a voice which will be heard simply because of the magnitude in numbers of people it represents.
• Via the website, elect a spokesperson who will be our Global Leader for a Safe Climate.
• Then approach local and national governments (who are used to count voters in numbers) on a second round, and see if they’ll listen to us this time around. Get them to quickly do a few obvious common-sense regulatory changes in favour of renewable energy. Such as a strong carbon tax, slashing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and supporting clean energy.
“The goal must be to force governments to treat coal, oil and gas in the same way they now treat asbestos: as a deadly threat to public health that requires strict public regulation. Indeed, fossil fuels are far more deadly than asbestos when you add up the consequences of runaway climate change.”
Simon Butler, in a speech presented at Australia’s Climate Action Summit in Sydney on 22 June 2013
Does that sound simple? Or silly? …because that is similar to what hundreds and hundreds of initiatives out there have already tried to do in vain?
Please do send me some feedback what you think. And if you have more, or different, ideas to how we should make the best, most sensible and most intelligent move.
You can post a comment below. And if you’d rather contact me directly, write your message right here:
“Never underestimate the individuals’ ability to change the world”
“We are going to win because we don’t understand politics. We are going to win because we don’t play their dirty games. We are going to win because we don’t have a party political agenda. We are going to win because the tears that come from our eyes actually come from our hearts. We are going to win because we have dreams, and we’re willing to stand up for those dreams.”
Wael Ghonim — who set up one of the Facebook groups behind the Tahrir Square revolution in Cairo in 2012. “He got thrown in jail for it, but I have his words tattooed on my brain,” said Bono in a TED-presentation in February 2013 as he quoted him. “Wael is right,” Bono added: “We’re going to win if we work together as one, because the power of the people is so much stronger than the people in power.”
Astronauts have a unique perspective of the world because they have seen it from the outside, looking in. Would we be better off, as a society, if we all had a chance to look at the Earth from that perspective?
“After having watched the video below, I think so,” wrote sustainability blogger Jocelyn Plourde in Canada.
“We have to start acting like as one species with one destiny. We are not going to survive if we don’t do that.”
“Think of 2013 as the Year Zero in the battle over climate change, one in which we are going to have to win big, or lose bigger. This is a terrible thing to say, but not as terrible as the reality that you can see in footage of glaciers vanishing, images of the entire surface of the Greenland Ice Shield melting this summer, maps of Europe’s future in which just being in southern Europe when the heat hits will be catastrophic, let alone in more equatorial realms.”
Rebecca Solnit in Utne Magazine on 26 December 2012: Facing Down Year Zero on Climate Action
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Is an energy transformation to zero carbon emissions at all realistic? Is the idea of creating a broad social revolution for climate safety realistic?
» Here is a list of good articles I’d recommend you to read if you’d like to dig deeper into these questions which are important when searching for or working on a ‘climate safety vision’: 100% renewables and the ‘yes, but’.
» Here is a list of inspiring articles on the quest for a vision for how we solve the climate crisis – and about how to create public pressure for action on slashing carbon emissions and reducing the risks of climate change: Inspiring articles and food for thought