The REAL Cure for Climate Change (+Videos)

earth

Don’t expect climate change to get fixed by the governments of the world.  Don’t expect that, however noble in intention, the efforts of Gore, McKibben, Stern, and their many cohorts will succeed either.  Not on any large scale.  It won’t be clean tech or green products saving the day either. 

Climate change, like energy scarcity, water pollution, and other serious global issues is merely one symptom of a larger global problem.  Tackle the symptoms individually, and at best you might get lackluster results.  Tackle the source of the problem, and everything attached to it will be positively affected. 

That problem is consumerism.  Too many people want too many things on a finite planet with limited resources.  The process of obtaining and manufacturing those things is what has gotten us into trouble: carbon emissions, resource depletion, deforestation, species extinction, etc. 

The consumer economy is the cornerstone of “democratic” governments worldwide.  As a result, governments have no genuine interest in changing the status quo.  It would be too problematic, too chaotic, and mean transcending too many vested interests.  Don’t count on Copenhagen to come to much. 

And while Al Gore and company have some good ideas and rational arguments, the problem is that the arguments are rational, while the roots of consumerism are not.   

For decades, the worldwide public both in the U.S. and any country that has emulated the American formula for “success” has had their minds absorbed by consumerism, and their emotions compromised by its advertised promises.  At this point, the average consumer is largely driven by irrational motives, advertisers tugging at the heart strings, making promises that products will solve “problems”.   

light blbs In this emotional landscape and this mindset, at best you might get a few people to change to energy efficient light bulbs.  You might get their attention just long enough for a few token actions.  As for significant lifestyle shifts, they will be few and far between.  Any significant shift will come from reaching people on an emotional, and likely irrational level—just as advertisers have been doing for decades. 

What we need is a shift to a new model—for our lifestyle, for our economies, for our livelihoods, for our planet.   

A rational argument is not going to bring those about.  What will? 

Not clean tech, not green products, nor any other model that looks similar to the one we already have.  Merely re-positioning “stuff that is less bad” for consumers to consume is just shifting the nature of the problem.  As Buckminster Fuller advised, to make an existing model obsolete, one must create a new model worth aspiring to.   

Or as Einstein so elegantly put it, “We cannot solve problems using the same logic we used to create them in the first place.”   

There needs to be a shift in people’s values and behaviors on a wide scale.   

The terrain is there for exploration.  Here is a well documented series from the BBC tracing the origins of consumer behavior and how they got us to where we are today.  It’s a long series to watch, but incredibly detailed and insightful.  If you are serious about wanting to change the way things are, study and reflect on these videos. 

As the old adage goes, “Turn the problem into the solution.”  In this case, the answer is getting consumerism to quickly consume and snuff itself out.  Will it be another banking crisis that does it?  Some other social movement rooted in the masses?  Some other driver yet undetermined?  Who knows, perhaps you will be the one coming up with the next golden idea on that one.

The Century of the Self Part 1

The Century of the Self Part 2

The Century of the Self Part 3

The Century of the Self Part 4

Chris Tobias is Celsias Editor-at-Large and Lead Strategist at Forward.
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More great articles on Celsias:

Playing the Futures Game

Climate Change and Public Health

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7 comments

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Baggs McCoy (anonymous)

Is North Korea an example to emulate here?

Written in November 2009

No, and that's a pretty ridiculous thing to suggest.

Written in November 2009

fling (anonymous)

We need to adapt. Take a look at this article The Great Transition: http://www.scribd.com/doc/21656220/The-Great-Transition-Navigating-Social-Economic-Ecological-Change-in-Turbulent-Times

Written in November 2009

Thank you for that very insightful article. ---Along the same lines, I was blessed to attend a presentaion given this November by Dr. David Suzuki, Canadian Environmentalist and in a nutshell, your message coincides with what he was suggesting---to one exception: The capacity for LOVE to generate miraculous results. Not LOVE in a "hippy-dippy way" but LOVE in a great way.---There is still much that can be done and Mother Nature might be more forgiving than we Brilliant Human Beings might think. In relation to politics for example, didn't Patterson replace Howard who was perhaps was less pro-environment? In relation to projects, there are new projects and initiatives that are being created every minute. ---You might want to look into the following project on Celsias: Revive The Baobab Tree. http://www.celsias.com/project/revive-the-baobab-treetm/---

---Please forgive me if I refuse to go along the pessimistic path and the necessary shift that you are referring to might be a shift in becoming more LOVING.

Lanna-Gerline Millien

Written in November 2009

"didn't Patterson replace Howard who was perhaps was less pro-environment?"

---should have read: "didn't Rudd replace Howard who was perhaps less pro-environment?"---

Written in November 2009

Rudd was allegedly pro-environment, yet what has become of any ambition for emissions targets in Australia? I'd say that is one corner of the world to be pessimistic about... Thanks for the rest of your thoughts though. Cautiously realistic is the tact I would take personally, perhaps with a mix of pragmatism.

Written in November 2009

I took time to write because I found that the "ridiculous" comment might not have been the best comment to foster dialogue; yet it is often through dialogue and wooven inter exchanges that changes can take place.

Indeed, without falling into the extremes of pessimism vs optimism, I see eye to eye with you on the notion of being cautiously realistic. Without sounding too esoteric, I do however have faith in the human spirit.

While Government can use the power of policies to generate grander scale changes; the process of defining and implementing policies can demand time. Good intentions can be met with opposition and major obstacles.

In that respect, some societies give space to citizenship actions; therefore changes may also be generated by responsible, realistic citizenship actions which do not always demand government approval. That being said, I still "cautiously believe" that the love of our common Feeding Mother Earth translated in small; yet sustained, realistic daily actions can generate miraculous results. Most of the environmentally destructive behaviors that are seen today were learned. They were learned and became part of our cultures. They were learned from friends, from parents, from the media and so on. Since these behaviors were learned, I "cautiously believe" that there is a fair chance that these hateful and destructive behaviors can be unlearned. For example, just in the realm of food and nutrition, some trends can be reversed.

I am trying to be as pragmatic as I can. The notion of change can be met with strong resistance even when it is for the common good but I still have faith in the human spirit.

Lanna Gerline Millien

Written in November 2009

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  • Posted on Nov. 12, 2009. Listed in:

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