New Manifesto for the Sustainability Community: Call for the sustainability movement to reach ‘maturity’

Many of us are working hard to arrange meetings, events and even local actions in sustainable development. But we are making things difficult for ourselves. We split up our common interests into thousands of topics, groups, NGO’s, projects, media strands and social brackets. Indeed, these are things we must do. But on our priority list, they must rank below our ‘common action’. In order for all of these other actions to be taken seriously enough for subsequent change, we need the ‘weight’ behind us. That is why it is required that everyone engaged in sustainable development first pool resources and participate in strategic solidarity for the common good. The basis of all our works require the following:

  • create a central network forum (where all our actions and visions are pieced together in a holistic picture)
  • Step up our level of common knowledge so that we are speaking the same language that allows us to move forward.
  • occupy a significant portion of the ‘marketing space‘ (so that people are bombarded not only with consumer products but with messages about how the world works and what they can do about it)
  • create ambitious campaigns to allow ordinary people make easy & fun contributions
  • create multi-organisational pilot projects for ‘real change’, instead of individual groups struggling on their own
  • Establish ‘permanent’ meeting places in every city or town
  • collaborate in creating ‘time‘ by minimising our lifestyle expenses
  • Create a fund for ‘free problem solvers’ (a relaxed environment, without any targets or demands, can be created for those of us who have the knowledge, energy and openness to work together on coming up with solutions – unhindered)
  • begin with focussing most of our time in discussing and implementing these things, through networking and events

If we do not focus together on these social needs, all our efforts of public participation, integration, political reform, responsible research, consumer evolution, system change, etc. will continue to advance slowly at this critical point in history.

Change the discussion: to change the world, to change climate change

Recently I attended a symposium on the circumstances revolving around the IPCC consensus on what the world’s goals should be regarding Ghg’s and their dire politicisation. While it is necessary that we understand the situation, I find that the political side, at least in Sweden, takes over most of the public discussion space. The symposium’s hosts, the Centre for Sustainable Development at Uppsala University, of course see beyond this. But we are focussing a lot through 2015 on the big talks this December in Paris, and less on where we can make impact. I was relieved to find that during the Q&A session, many audience members shifted the conversation from the politicisation of the 2° Celsius goal to what we can do in actuality.

An audience member, Per Ribbing, challenged a climate-scientist/panel-member that, in order to change the global structures, we first need to present successful solutions or models to the politicians. He gave one example of changing yourself by investing green, one audience member talked about city level transition and another about carbon capture and storage. Here there was talk of solutions – ‘what’ needs to be done. One important point was missing.

Both the problems of climate change and the problems we face in solving it are big in global discussion. (I must point out that, while this takes up a significant amount of attention, the worst of the problems are not clearly presented to the public – which perhaps is just as well. The public wouldn’t react well, if at all, without solutions being presented to them as well). There has also been significant focus on the practical solutions – e.g. investing green, community windfarms, e-cars, consuming less, etc. What there has been little or no focus on, at local and global levels, is the ‘how’ we actually solve the problems – yet it is the most fundamental. The general public are becoming more aware that there are things we can or should do to prevent the obscure image of climate change from prevailing – or at least adapting to it. If they are not too skeptical, they will only go so far as to conclude that the likelihood of all these ‘solutions’ being adopted by people or put in place by governments, is slim. Question: If that is your ‘expert’ conclusion, why not try to figure out a solution? Answer: Cognitive dissonance.

Of course the whole world is in disarray on the subject of climate change (as well as: mass extinction & biodiversity loss; ecosystem service tipping points; natural resource depletion, competition & mismanagement; the growing, urbanising, migrating and aging populations of the world; resulting spread of disease, food shortages, increasing conflicts, loss of education and cultural values & potential collapse of civilisation; etc.). What we are missing from the forefront of global sustainability discussions is the ‘how’.

The Heart & Brains of a Paradigm Shift

If you look throughout history, did any mass social movement or revolution that reached any amount of success manage to do so without the key ingredients – ‘Solidarity’ & ‘Strategy’? People had to be supportive of each other – the heart – and they had to so in a well organised manner – the brain.

I network quite regularly with passionate students, activists and Sustainability professionals. You see, I consider these people to be ‘world leaders’, as they are among the few who see which way the world is going and wish to do something about it. If these people aren’t going to solve the world’s problems, who will? While many of them believe there are possible ways for us to achieve a sustainable future, they lack the sense of necessity to support each other in coming up with ambitious solutions. People have studies to complete, jobs to apply for, homes to move into, families to run & cars to buy. All the while, it is very important to balance work with play. So my suggestion is that we turn any ‘extra’ activity, in sustainable development, into play. This is where the brains come in to meet the heart.

For me, any activity in sustainable development is a struggle. There is no money, no time, no people and no place to go. When there is people, their schedules do not cross. Look at these fundamental resources: Time, money, people & place. If we had all these things, doing sustainability would be fun. There are people out there who really want to give their time but they have bills to pay. There are those who can afford it but are simply too busy, whether in social activity, work or eco-activism. (These people are most valued in what I am suggesting here). While it is difficult to cross people’s schedules, it is more difficult for them to converge without a central location or HQ. In the past, whether the black movement, the feminist movement or a revolution of social classes, pioneers would have secret meetings at different locations. Keeping track of this proved their commitments to the cause. These days we do not need to hide any more. We can do everything in the open. These days we are richer than ever, yet have less time to use these assets. Our ancestors fought for us to reach this point. Now that we possess this luxury, we turn away from it. To those who want to act fully on climate change, the world needs to offer the money, so that people have the time, and offer the place, so people can openly work on it. Those of us who are as committed as any past revolutionaries, shall propose this to the world so that all the right resources become available to us. From there, we can put in all the heart & brains we desire. Imagine what that could do.

A lot of sustainability folk respond to me by saying that they do not believe in being too ambitious or “artificial” in our actions, that sustainability will and must come about “naturally” or organically – that we should let people do things on their own when the time is right. And that is exactly why we need to use our hearts and brains. I mean, define natural! Is it unnatural to act, as best as one can (strategically in solidarity)?

You who know, open your eyes

To overcome climate change (& biodiversity loss, resource crises, etc.) requires that we are inventive. To be inventive requires a sense of necessity. I hear a lot of complaints from the environmental movement that there are too many climate deniers and there is too much apathy. So there is the problem: a movement of passionate talkers who lack the sense of necessity to be walkers. If you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, as in any ‘successful’ mass movement, you will begin to believe that change is possible. And by making sacrifices, by joining that core movement, you will find a world of people willing to give you more than you ever had. Until that day, you are beating around the bush. I feel the necessity, therefore I believe and thus will invent solutions in solidarity with those who possess the will.

Greetings Earthlings!

This is my totalitarian blog aimed to suggest, discuss and request solutions for the world’s citizens and displaced peoples on how to manage the Earth. So voice your needs, hear my words and get up off your arses, then I will hear you!

The single greatest threat arising from humanity’s unprecedented mismanagement of the Earth’s resources is the increasing displacement of human beings and its resulting conflicts, poverty and inequality. A worst case scenario, which is what we are currently aiming towards, could put all people in such a situation. Imagine something along the lines of Mad Max. We can reach a medium case scenario if we turn around. If we strive now and continue the momentum, we may get to enjoy a utopian best case scenario at the ends of our lives and watch our grand children receive the gifts they deserve as humans. Our fate is that fragile, so we must treat it so.

Pr. Hans Rosling has painted a statistically accurate picture of humanity’s great success in reducing poverty, increasing literacy rates and creating equal societies. He projects greater advances over the coming century. However, he admits that the complexities of climate change and environmental mismanagement cannot be included into the projections of human progress. His colleague Johan Rockström, also a renowned Swedish Professor, makes a clear statement by contrasting his cutting edge research with that of Rosling’s. Please watch a great lecture orated by the duo at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (if you skip the first few seconds, the video should load).

Royal Society President, Martin Rees, has warned the world of a 50-50 chance of surviving the 21st Century. We can’t put a number on it, but we do know that the IPCC’s struggle to convince the world to act is still politically conservative in its estimates does not represent the voices of the top climate scientists. This video and this video explain the situation very well. In fact, greenhouse gas emissions are exceeding estimates as a result of feedback loops and unexpected industrial increases.

Even the Pope has asked the United States to act on climate change. And here was my appeal to the President of the United States. Thankfully, Shell has since pulled out of the Arctic for financial reasons. Let’s make sure it is made illegal before they return.

All around, people seem uninspired to act. They say the challenge is too big for them. Leave the politicians up to it, they say. I have crowned myself as Emperor of this Earth, and as emperor it is my obligation not only to lead the world towards a change, but also to listen to the needs of the people. There is a way forward, but we must do it together. It begins here.