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Global Climate Change: Seeing The Opportunity In The Threat
Opportunity Not Threat
The debate over whether or not human beings have contributed to global climate change is a distraction.
It distracts our energy from the work that we need to do and channels it into a never ending debate over whether we are having an effect or not.
If people want to believe that their behaviour is not part of the problem and that the changes that we are experiencing are simply a natural weather cycle, then that is their right.
I cannot see how we can dismiss the changes that humans have brought about since the beginning of the industrial revolution some 500 years ago as having no effect on our planet but there are those who do and I see no point in devoting any of my time to debating the point.
There is enough evidence that changes are taking place and will continue to do so for me to say that it is time to put an end to this debate and ignore the distractions it causes, and get on with the work that needs to be done. Let the deniers, deny. The rest of us can do.
What we can do is reduce the negative effect that we are having and increase the positive.
People make choices, each and every day; for example we can choose to recycle or not; we can choose to reduce our consumption or not; we can choose to practice fair trade or not; this list goes on and on. The choices are there and we can and do make them.
Now is the time to choose to devote our energy to healing the planet; to repair the damage that we have done and while doing so build sustainable communities.
Global climate change is a serious threat. We cannot be intimidated by the disastrous consequences that global climate change has brought and will continue to bring if we sit back and get distracted by an endless debate.
Now is the time to recognize the opportunity that lives within the threat.
How do we do this?
First, it is important to state what we mean when we use the words, sustainable and sustainability. These two words have been so widely used and so loosely defined as to almost be meaningless; in fact, some simply want to chuck them away.
I disagree, in order to have a discussion from which a plan of action arises, it is essential to have a common language that all participants can understand.
In 1987, the Brundtland Report was commissioned by the United Nations to explore options for sustainable growth and development. The document was developed by the World Commission on Environment and Development and has been a reference point on the subject of sustainability for the last two decades.
The report defines sustainability as "meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
This is the definition that I am working with and the one that can help guide our actions as we move to repair the damage that has been done.
Where to start?
Kenneth Boulding was a forceful advocate of normative economics who brought ethical, religious and ecological concerns to bear on the analysis of desirable economic outcomes - and a ceaseless activist for the integration of the social sciences. It is what has become referred to as Boulding’s first law that guides our vision of a possible and attainable future.
Boulding's 1st Law: "Anything that exists is possible.
We can look at what is working and apply the basic concepts that are at work, to rebuilding or redesigning our community.
A source of encouragement and much needed hope is the work of William McDonough. McDonough is the co-author, along with Michael Braungart, of the book Cradle to Cradle.
Cradle to Cradle maps the lineaments of McDonough and Braungart's new design paradigm, offering practical steps on how to innovate within today's economic environment. Part social history, part green business primer, part design manual, the book makes plain that the re-invention of human industry is not only within our grasp, it is our best hope for a future of sustaining prosperity.
The case studies that the book presents give us evidence that anything that exists is possible.
Another source of inspiration and hope is the work of the many localvores or local food groups that have sprung up across the country. The 100 Mile Diet may well be the best know.
Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon are the force behind the 100 Mile Diet and their work and personal commitment has influenced people all across North America.
When you reduce the distance that your food travels from the farm where it is grown to yoru kitchen table, you are participating in an activity that reduces the amount of fossil fuels that are used to transport that food the many miles it will otherwise travel.
Another project that offers hope and solutions is the work of the relocaliziation network.
Relocalization is a strategy to build societies based on the local production of food, energy and goods, and the local development of currency, governance and culture. The main goals of Relocalization are to increase community energy security, to strengthen local economies, and to dramatically improve environmental conditions and social equity.
There are relocaliziation groups at work all around North America. See if there is one near you and if there is not, consider starting one.
The examples of the possible are numerous and there is something that each of us can do, if we decide to act rather than be distracted by an empty debate.
You could join a community garden or start one, you can plant a tree or an urban forest, and you can start a local food buying club based upon the 100 mile diet.
Perhaps, the most important thing that you can do is do, and share with others what you are doing; together we can be a force that makes a difference.
Do not let another day go by; seize the opportunity.