EVERYTHING MUST CHANGE
“(It’s) a cry for survival… from the planet itself, one that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear.”-President Joe Biden
Since we started this column two years ago, what’s been accomplished? Have our prospects for the future changed in any meaningful way? It’s time to get serious about what it means to be in a climate emergency.
BRIGHT IDEA: Get serious about what it means to be in a Climate Emergency
Our last column ended with a basic truth: Everything Must Change. Implementing all the recommendations made in the One Climate Future (OCF) plan, is only a starting point. We face decisions of epic proportions. We can be overwhelmed by discomfort and fear putting all our energy into getting things back to the way they were… or… to create a new normal.
If we fail to dramatically lower emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, a cataclysm of almost unthinkable scale awaits. According to the dictionary, a “cataclysm” is “a momentous and violent event marked by overwhelming upheaval or demolition – an event that brings great changes.”
To avoid exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, emissions need to fall 7.6% every year for the next 10 years. No one, no government, no organization is about to magically solve this problem for us. We have to do it ourselves by working together.
Keep in mind that humans have walked this planet for at least 300,000 years. Yet, fossil-fueled industrial capitalism is less than two hundred years old. For 99.9% of human history, we didn’t significantly alter the atmosphere or wipe out vast numbers of species with whom we share the planet.
We must abandon the flawed concept of perpetual growth. The only hope is for an economic structure that restores harmony to our relation to the planet and ensures fairness among ourselves. When we listen to science, we understand what ghastly futures await us, but only if we are not bold enough to avoid them.
To recap, here are a few of the highlights of our local One Climate Future plan:
- Design and fit new buildings to be energy efficient and use renewables.
- Connect people to places and opportunities by strengthening neighborhoods with services that bring people together.
- Promote clean renewable electricity to phase out fossil fuels, update and transform the energy system.
- Grow a circular economy to eliminate wastefulness, recycle, and use all our resources intelligently.
- Nourish ecosystems which nourish us by partnering with the natural world.
- Build collaborative capacity by promoting more democratic systems of work and interpersonal relationship.
We must rethink and rebuild in the context of terrestrial survival. Actions which seemed impossible before must now become possible. Everything must change.
If you have ideas to contribute to this column, contact us so that Bright Ideas can incorporate your ideas into our own.
Author’s Note: Ben Ehrenreich’s article, “We’re Hurtling Toward Global Suicide,” in The New Republic (3/18/21) is largely responsible for our content this month.
Bright Ideas is brought to you by Portland Climate Action Team which, during the pandemic, meets online every 4th Thursday of the month, 6-7:30 p.m. All are welcome to join in. FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org.