300 years ago, the Enlightenment generated an inspiring vision of scientific, technological and economic progress. What was once global ‘progress’, however, has become a climate, ecological, economic and now pandemic disaster.
We need new inspiration.
When we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic we can’t afford
to go back to business-as-usual.
We need to build ourselves a new ecological civilization
in which we live, work and play in harmony with Nature,
We face not one but three simultaneous inter-connected crises: the COVID-19 Emergency, the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, and the Crisis of Capitalism. We urgently need connected constructive responses.
When you recall the movie When Harry Met Sally, your horny mind probably goes straight the scene in the delicatessen, and “I’ll have what she’s having”. Setting that aside, it took Harry and Sally a long time before they realized that they were natural partners. In my version of the story, Harry is the climate and biodiversity action movement and Sally is the COVID-19 community response movement. For each, the movement includes a wide mix of people, organizations, scientists, health workers, artists, businesses, banks and governments who have realized the urgency of their respective crises. Ideally I need a third character to represent the new economics movement, but since there was no suggestion of polyamory in the movie, I’ll settle for tradition. It would make for a great sequel, however.
The Mint Magazine despatches Guy Dauncey to Switzerland, a decade into the future, to report on the global summit.
It was pouring when we arrived in Davos. The local news channels were full of complaints about how useless the artificial snow-machines were in the rain. Everyone knew the continuing climate crisis was to blame. Their glum expressions said it all.
When the invitation arrived for The Mint to send a journalist I volunteered because I wanted to see how my Tesla Raven Model 5 would manage the 1,000 km, 12-hour journey on just one recharge, ride-sharing with three others. Success. We arrived with 154 km still in the battery.
How can I describe the mood among the delegates? The world had entered the final year of the 2020s, and the steady reduction in global emissions along with the full-on engagement by China and India made many people feel optimistic. But the ongoing litany of disasters, including the massive flooding in Holland and the forest fires in the Amazon, made most still feel fearful.
The pandemic has seized our attention, and so it should – but the climate and ecological emergencies haven’t paused out of sympathy, thinking “Let’s give the humans a break.” That’s not the way Nature works.
We can’t afford to relax our climate and environmental concerns just because we’ve got other concerns. We have to do both. And being stuck at home gives us an opportunity to do some serious planning. Serious, as in “Let’s make our family 100% climate and ecologically friendly within five years.”
A video of Guy Dauncey presenting a brief summary of this paper is here.
“This is a practical, down to earth concrete step by step transition strategy for the Canadian government to get real about the climate emergency. A must read for all Canadians to make a difference and communicate to their elected officials new policies and programs that will make a difference now.” – Professor Ann Dale, Trudeau Fellow Alumna, Canada Research Chair, Royal Roads University
“This is vital reading. It maps out an evidence-based route ahead; to open real conversations around what we actually need to do in these testing times. It should be read by politicians and policymakers, local and regional councillors, business front-runners, university and health service delivery managers, indeed everyone who wants to explore how we can collectively build the new zero carbon world we so urgently need.” – Paul Allen, Project Coordinator, Zero Carbon Britain project at the Centre for Alternative Technology
“Visionary and thorough, Dauncey’s 26 week Transition Program deserves close scrutiny in Canada and beyond. His passion for a clean economy shines.” – Raffi Cavoukian, C.M., O.B.C., singer, founder of Raffi Foundation For Child Honouring
A new ecological civilization, it whispers ever so softly
By Guy Dauncey
There comes a time in the evolution of every civilization when the Universe sends us a new message. Slowly, it works its way through the multiple layers of a long-established culture. It is buffeted by resistance and repulsed by rulers, but in spite of this it finds its voice in the songs of poets, the impulses of teenagers, and the dreams of millions.
Guy Dauncey is founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, co-founder of the Victoria Car Share Cooperative, and the author or co-author of ten books, including The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming and Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible. He is currently completing The Economics of Kindness: A Ten-Year Transition to a Green Cooperative Economy. He lives in Yellow Point, on Vancouver Island, Canada. His website is www.thepracticalutopian.ca.
I premise my analysis on five statements:
The climate emergency is real.
The ecological emergency is real.
The inequality, household debt and affordable housing crises are real.
A new global financial crisis is lurking, caused by excessive corporate and private debt and banking deregulation.
We need a ten-year mobilization to achieve a rapid transition to a green cooperative economy that is human-friendly, community-friendly, climate-friendly and nature-friendly, leaving self-interested capitalism behind us.
There are massive forest fires in Siberia. Greenland’s melting is accelerating. Record heatwaves are roasting Europe. The world’s insects are dying off. The scary news keeps accumulating.
We are living on the edge of an emergency that is just getting started, and climate is only the half of it. There’s also an ecological emergency. How are we to respond? It’s easy to slip into complacency, or to be overcome by fear, followed by a sense of impotence. You know the crises are real, but the children are coming to visit, there’s a holiday to plan, and don’t get me started on the problems we’re having at work.
The first step to end complacency and neutralize fear is to put the crisis on your weekly to-do list:
Weed the garden
Visit your friend in hospital
Sign the kids up for karate/soccer/piano/dancing lessons
Do something to tackle the climate and ecological crises
June 2019. The summer days bring exquisite shades of green. The bees are out, the ants rush around, and the wind rustles quietly in the tops of the trees. A fresh-baked rhubarb sponge cake sits on the kitchen counter. Life is sensuous, beautiful, and quite frankly, exquisite. Tiny mauve butterflies flit in and out of the flowers.
And then Cassandra arrives, she of the noble Greek ancestry, admired by the god Apollo, she with the golden locks and the long white flowing dress, reading from her list of warnings: