The unexpected impact of collectively waiting in a tunnel

London blitz in 1940

Abstain from it… Suspend it… Cancel it… Call it off… Postpone it… Put it on hold… Simply stop doing it… And then… Wait. Welcome to The Tunnel where people are gathering as they pull the brake and join the Big Pause movement.

Could the emerging movement of carbon abstinence, temperance and continence become the consequence that follows and grows into becoming a powerful ‘Phase Two’ of the global climate emergency declaration movement, taking everyone by surprise as it results in a fast, disruptive contraction of the economy, if not a complete crash, leading to an emissions turnaround as abrubt as it now needs to be?

It’s doable. One of the world’s best-selling bands, Coldplay, has showed us how. In November 2019 they announced that they have suspended their concert tour activities until they can be done in a way that doesn’t harm the environment. Coldplay pushed the big system-challenging Pause Button.

Imagine just for a moment what would happen if other famous artists were to take up the torch and follow their example. This simple move could have huge implications. It could trigger an avalanche of events, which again would positively impact on humanity’s global carbon emissions. Why? Really? How?

Well, this will take a few more lines to explain.

Bomb detonation with a 40 year lag
One of the most wicked issues with climate change its decade-long lag in effect. It takes between three and four decades before we see the result of our ‘air polluting sins’. The impacts of climate change we are seeing at the moment are the result of the greenhouse gas pollution we emitted in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then we have doubled the level of emissions, which means that even if we stopped all emissions overnight, the impacts of climate change will keep getting worse over the next three-four decades.

Acting on the climate crisis is a bit like having to convince people to wear rain coats and rubber boots on a sunny morning, just because you are able to see on the Bureau of Meteorology weather app that change is coming: in just a few hours, rain will be pouring and everyone without a rain coat will get soaked.

Even though we can’t yet see the impact of our current carbon emissions, we are told by the United Nations’ panel of climate scientists, the IPCC, that we need to pull the brakes and create a massive, unprecedented emissions turnaround in almost no time – and this at a time when a lot of people still haven’t really understood the danger and can’t see the reason for an emergency-level mobilisation.

We’ve procrastinated for decades, and for some species and eco-systems, we have already left it too late to save them. Comfortably transitioning away from burning fossil fuels little by little as we gradually phase out the old technologies during the next three decades – as the renewables get cheaper and technologies improve – is no longer going to be enough to get us over the line to safety. We need to step up.

Seeing 1,200 councils declare a climate emergency has been a good beginning in that direction. But now we need people on board. Businesses and industry are the big polluters, but they are not going to change unless either the people – their customers – or unless governments start changing the laws.

Movement of system defection
Coldplay’s move is bold and unique in a similar was as Greta’s first day in front of the Swedish Parliament was. Abstaining from being part of the mad, collective rush towards extinction is an idea which is replicable, and it can spread and morph just like a virus can.

The decision to take a ‘time out’, sit back and wait, while figuring out new ways to do things, as Coldplay have stated they will from now on, reminds us of the situation the British people were in during the London Blitz in 1940, when Hitler was throwing bombs over the city to demoralise and create fear among people. The opposite happened. Historians write that “British society became in many ways strengthened by the blitz, and more, rather than less, determined to stay the course” – and people came up from the tunnel feeling empowered. Some have later referred to those days during the war as some of the best time of their life.

If we are to succeed with tackling the climate emergency – which is even more of an emergency because we can’t see or feel the impacts of our actions before decades later – then we need to create a second global wave, similar to the Climate Emergency Declaration wave – where it is very much about the declaration and its action points.

Many many other things than concert tours can be put on hold. Festivals. New Years Eve fire works. Building projects. Purchases.

We invite artists and thoughtleaders to join Coldplay and start to make a difference. And how can you step in and help as an individual? By contacting your favourite artists. Send them an email, or write to them on Facebook. You are never too small to make a difference, as Greta says.

Climate contagion 2020-2025, so it begins…

“You can pretty much hear it now. It’s like being in a forest and hearing the leaves rustling in the tops of trees, just before the storm hits. Then it comes with a roar, everything shakes, and we look around wondering what will fall – and will it fall on us. This is how I see the global economy and climate change. Everything is ready, everyone knows it’s coming, we’re just waiting for the storm to hit.”
~ Paul Gilding, author , December 2019

“Wall Street’s denial of climate dangers is setting us up for a 2008-style financial explosion where “risk spreads in a way that cannot be contained or isolated”.
~ Graham Steele, Stanford Graduate School of Business, December 2019

What will we call it?

But we will need to have a name for this people-driven movement. It is not a ‘strike’, because it is not a protest as such. It is something that goes deeper and touches the heart, and it mostly concerns oneself. So then, what is it?

Ideas for a good name are welcome! 🙂 Use the comment field below, or comment on our Facebook page. Suggestions so far:

The Pause Movement

First Responders

Cancel Crash (inspired by Cancel culture)

The Pausolution

Climate Leave

Carbon Freedom Wave

War on Carbon

The RE-generation

Crash on Demand (inspired by David Holmgren, 2013)

Common Ground


The Big Pause

Cancel the Status Quo

The Stop Day / The Stop Movement

The Slowness Movement (inspired by Kathryn Bouskill)

The Contraction

Earthism / Earthists

Breaking Point (inspired by Sydney Morning Herald’s front cover headline)

“The whole of Australia should strike every Friday, not protest, just don’t go to work, stop/slow down the economy.” 

Examples of other ‘Coldplay moments’

Melbourne: Festival with 20 years of traditions and thousands of keen fans suspended due to the climate emergency

“Restore the Mana and the rest will follow”
~ Eugene Morgan-Coakle, New Zealand

Australian musician cutting international flights

Charlie Mgee from Formidable Vegetable Sound System announced in March 2019, that he had decided not to tour his music outside Australia for now. In Shouts, he told about this decision:

“I just thought it was getting a bit too ironic doing so much international travel when I sing about climate change and fossil fuels. I still have a long way to go before becoming fossil-fuel free (not just with transport, but food, business and a whole lot of things), but cutting international flights out of the picture is an important step I think. If anyone knows of a sailboat heading to Europe, maybe I’ll try and make it back that way!”

At the entrance to The Tunnel: Individual steps

“It is a massive personal decision.” – “Every choice I make is about how I treat the world…”
Hunger striker: “I’m hoping we are making a difference.”

“We have so much to do. And we must do it together.”
~ Pope Francis, in the film ‘A Man of His Word’

Climate emergency could be best thing to happen in our lifetimes – activist 

Mik’s comment: “This statement may look weird when taken out of context. I said it in the context of talking about how some people actually came out of the Second World War with an experience that they later on referred to as having been some of the best and richest moments of their entire life.

The climate emergency offers us all a once-in-lifetime opportunity to press the big ‘Restart Button’, or a ‘Rethink-it-all-from-scratch’-button, and that is what inspires me. A societal restart-opportunity will have stories of tragedy and grief, just like wars do, but also something immensely powerful and positive about the new world that we can start creating as a consequence of this disruption, built on a different set of values, consciousness and goals.”

Home › National
Contributor: Fuseworks Media
Wednesday, 27 November, 2019 – 14:19

Climate emergency could be the best thing that will happen in our lifetimes, says Mik Aidt

“What if I told you the climate emergency will not only be the biggest and most disruptive, but also potentially the best thing that will ever happen in your lifetime?”

These are the words of Mik Aidt, the climate change activist who was influential in Greta Thunberg’s rise to prominence through his weekly podcast, ‘The Sustainable Hour’.

Mik, an Australian citizen with Danish heritage, is speaking at Recreation Conference in Hamilton/Kirikiriroa and says that the climate emergency has the capacity to bring richness, goodness, value and excitement to our lives.

“An unprecedented crisis requires unprecedented solutions,” says Mik, and he provides examples of what the Climate Emergency Declaration movement helps form. What started as a petition in Australia has so far inspired more than 1,200 councils and jurisdictions in 25 different countries to declare themselves in a climate emergency.

“After decades of procrastination on the greenhouse gas issue, where there has been a tendency for everyone to wait for someone else to take the first decarbonisation step, the climate emergency declarations have emerged as a tool that helps break that impasse.”

“It has also started a conversation about the need for change at a much more radical and deeper level. It has opened a channel, where people pull the emergency brake at a personal and organisational level – just like the British band Coldplay did recently, when they declared they will stop touring until it can be done in a way that doesn’t harm the environment,” Mik says.

Mik will explain to delegates how the declaration movement happened, the difference it’s made and what we can expect next.

Mik says that when community leaders declare on behalf of their constituents that they act with a new urgency; it brings about a new level of ownership and responsibility, and begins to change ‘the story’ across communities.

“We started out on this campaign journey with calling for the laws to be changed in our country, but today the campaign looks more like it has become a pathway cultivating unprecedented change – a people-powered green revolution, if you wish – from bottom up in the communities, and spreading all around the world,” explains Mik.

Is this the solutions tool humanity has been waiting for? 

→ Source:

From: John M
Sent: Sunday, 1 December 2019 11:06 PM
Subject: Re: [VCAN Discussion] Climate Emergency could be best thing to happen in our lifetimes – activist

I was agreeing with Mik and taking the emergency both ways. After banging on about the environment and about climate crisis for over 2 decades, a volunteer at the Climate Conference hosted by the Commission for the future in 1988 in Melbourne with the late Betty Dowell and our env ethics tutor and ecofeminist philosopher Freya Mathews, starting 3 bicycle user groups in the hope that we would drastically reduce car use and burning fossil fuels with DODOs, get our daily exercise and improve our health and environment, studying with the late prof FF who became my best male friend and mentor, planting thousands of trees and other plants of local native provenance to preserve biodiversity, soil and habitat, founding RCS, BCAN, membership of TWS, ACF, BBF, ATN, BHA, CAHA, HEALTHY FUTURES, VCAN, SLF, AWCC and so on, at first taking Dad’s second cousin and CSIRO meteorological physicist Peter Funk’s warnings about rising CO2 and GH effect with a grain of salt in 1962, only to appreciate his warnings a decade later, AND STILL WE ARE POISONING AIR, WATER AND LAND AND CO2e continue to rise, I think we live in the best and worst of times. It’s people like you, Mik, Jane, Giselle, the Gretas of this world, the Kates, Carols, (mainly active wise older women and a few men) and my adult children and my grandchildren etc that give me hope for the future.

Love, JohnM

“Beat the system with togetherness.”
~ Permacultura Pirates, in a post on Facebook

New book by Jenny Odell:
‘How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy’

“Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing.”

A galvanising critique of the forces vying for our attention – and our personal information – that redefines what we think of as productivity and reveals what we’ve been too distracted to see about ourselves and our world.

Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. But in a world where our value is determined by our data productivity, doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance.

So argues artist and critic Jenny Odell in this field guide to slowing down. Odell sees our attention as the most precious – and overdrawn – resource we have. Once we can start paying a new kind of attention, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humanity’s role in the environment, and arrive at a more meaningful understanding of happiness and fulfilment.

Far from a simple anti-technology screed, ‘How to Do Nothing’ is an action plan for thinking beyond capitalist narratives of efficiency and value. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, it shows us how to preserve our inner lives and bring about change in a world that needs this more than ever.

Read more

“The most important word in today’s world is ‘together’.”
~ Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General

The Sustainable Hour podcast no 296 was all about The Coldplay Moment

Help catalyse The Pause Movement

Do you like the idea and would be interested in helping catalyse ‘The Pause Movement’? Let us know!

Much can be gained by regularly pausing, reflecting, upskilling and regrouping together, in our ‘tunnels’. Cindy Eiritz, who we interviewed in The Sustainable Hour this week, gave us an example: She got a flat tyre last week and was walking home along the bike path along the river. Shortly after she began walking she was next to an old Indigenous man. He called out and they began talking and walking for about 40 minutes til their paths diverged.

He was a traditional man from Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria. In the middle of all their domestic sharing and reflections, he mentioned he had come from Stockland Shopping Centre (which was probably about 14km away), just late that afternoon. Cindy said he must be a very fast walker. He said the most amazing and profound thing – he said: When you take your time, you go fast. When you rush, you go slow. 

“I think somehow we need to learn to take our time at emergency speed,” commented Cindy. 

A new approach to this can be found in Bob Chadwick’s book, ‘Finding New Ground’. Here are some extracts from Nedra Chandra’s article about his approaches to conflict and consensus building.

Here is a five minute video trailer about series of interviews about a long running conflict over water:

Taking the needed time for
deep questioning and listening

During Consensus Institute workshops, participants engage in an experiential process that demonstrates – in action and modelling – a basic tool kit of strategies and skills. This facilitates consensus for conflict resolution, change, diversity, power, and scarcity. It is effective in co-creating and amplifying the best possible social, economic and environmental outcomes.

“…guiding and enabling others to lead beyond impediments, resolve conflict, build consensus, create a vision, achieve and sustain win-win solutions. With non-profits, government agencies, multi‐national corporations, communities, and farms, his methods and tools have transformed what is possible.”

Also Johanna Macy’s approach is needed. It is outlined in these two books:
‘Active Hope – How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy’ by Johanna Macy & Chris Johnstone
‘Coming Back to Life’ by Johanna Macy & Molly Brown

One comment

  1. “The Big Pause”
    “Canel the Status Quo”
    “The Stop Day”

    it has to appeal to people who are not already in the headspace. Talking to the already ‘converted’ does not help…

    I have been working on an idea that I call the ‘Not Doing Project” for a while (I am an artist) … which is an idea that encourages us each to not ‘do’ as much as we think we have to. To stop and think, to challenge the need to do so much… If one stops doing one has space to think about different ways of being and doing things – but that in itself is really challenging – many people I have spoken to about the idea are freaked out about it… I think because they actually might meet themselves and/or realize much of what they have been doing is not helpful to themselves or the planet and then they are confronted with the challenge of making change which often means letting go of what they have rested the identity of their whole lives on. THAT is challenging.

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