Global Spring
Originally posted Sep. 2012. Edited March 2, 2013, as Green Hope 6.

#climate   #climatechange   #globalwarming   #sustainability   #greenhope  

It may not happen in Spring. It might end up being the Global Winter, for all we know, or the Global Autumn. But the idea is clear: Just like the Arab Spring led to sudden, hopeful change that up to that point seemed thoroughly unimaginable, given what we believed were entrenched dictatorships in that part of the world, so too can a similar sudden, dramatic turn of events convert humanity to sustainability and resource sanity, extend the life of the planet to give us all more time to prepare for the coming grand collapse, and redirect our efforts to the one dream that will be left.

Similar sudden changes have happened before, most recently Europe 1989. Who could have seen that coming?

In the +Grist interview posted below, scholar and activist Gus Speth points to a similar outcome as the one and only hope the world has to avoid the wrath of climate change. "Big things can happen," he says, "and have happened." Not that we can any longer avoid the wrath, since the world has already locked into a 2C+ future, most likely to reach or surpass 5C. But Speth's message is vital nonetheless to achieve the objectives we MUST achieve to create as livable a society we can manage on our way down to civilization collapse.

A couple of buts regarding the Speth message. First, he limits his comments to the United States, when in fact the change must happen in every country, especially China and India, unless the U.S. is to serve as a catalyst that spreads the fever everywhere else. A better path, it seems to me, is for the Spring to happen on the ground there -- everywhere! -- as well, not to pray they will follow our lead. Heck, who has thus far followed Europe's lead?

Speth also makes the common mistake of focusing disproportionately on climate, when in fact resources pose what I and others insist is an even bigger challenge.

Neither these two buts, however, nor any other, should dampen our enthusiasm for the possibility of a Spring-like outcome.

In this previous Grist story ( ), +David Roberts laid out the history of sudden change triggered by a critical mass of people not numbering much above 10% of the population, people who fervently believe in and relentlessly pursue a transformative idea.

In climate and resources, there are signs we're already past the 10% across the world, which means it will take a bit more, as has happened in previous times of massive social change. So we're beautifully close. To put a reasonable number on it, let's say 15%. It's a matter now of pressing the issue, of insisting, of seeing this thing through, and realizing that the change we need will not come incrementally and gradually, for that will overshoot any chance we have of managing the collapse peacefully and humanely.

In the interview below and in his latest book America the Possiblle (check it out here and buy it right now, if you can: ), Speth lays out a path to the critical mass.

It is a combination of Occupy- and Arab-like movement, Transition-like community-level change, and BALLE-like business and investment.

That is why this establishment-bred scholar is shown in the picture below being arrested at a recent Occupy rally, because he's particularly passionate about that front.

Just like he has taken a stand, so must we all. Not necessarily in street protests, if that's not your thing (as it isn't mine!). But to action on the front of your choosing. I, for one, have mainly chosen to focus on marketing and communications solutions to engineer a demand-side revolution.

With all the attention commanded by top-down policy and technology solutions since climate and resources emerged as a top-of-mind life-threatening specter, the bottom-up demand side has gone largely unattended. Yet, that's the side that holds the key, because it is the only path likely to spread change fast enough and globally enough (including in China and India) to trigger the 15%.

As Speth says, "it’s not going to happen on the course we’re on now, with the level of demand that we have now."

Triggering a demand-side tipping point is possible. In fact, it is the only path that can usher in the change we need.

We can no longer engineer a solution that will save the world. But if you're looking -- probably desperately! -- for THE solution that can best manage the decline, the time has come to realize that demand is the only thing that can.
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