Mobilizing the Planet


All over the planet, discontent is in the air. But it’s more than that. There is a feeling that something historic is taking shape. In the past few years, we have seen wave after wave of protests on a multitude of themes. Sooner or later, we are going to realize that all these protests of different appearing issues on the surface are all fundamentally related deep down. When we do, a super movement will emerge that unites everyone.

Bringing about global change may not be as hard as once thought. Research from the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute show that it only takes 10% of the population to adopt an idea before it catches like fire and spreads to become an idea adopted by the majority. Mobiizing to exceed the 10% threshold is the key to global transformation.

tipping-point-min-becomes-maj

Figure 1: Minority to majority tipping point threshold (Source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

 

 

 

 

(Source: Cascadia Solidaria)

It is unlikely that governments will pass necessary regulation to force the markets to allocate more money into climate friendly solutions, and we must not assume that markets will work for the benefit of humankind

- Professor Jorgen Randers, Author of Limits to Growth and 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next 40 Years

We have a capitalist system that reflects our weaknesses; one that is fine-tuned only for the present and immediate future. Because of these factors, we will probably wait to deal with the obvious problems of living well beyond our means until the signs are powerful and clear that we must change; until, that is, it is basically too late.

- Jeremy Grantham, Leading Investment Advisor

Idle No mOrE: Aboriginal UpRISing

Beyond Coal NYC

We Will Survive Capitalism! – Black Friday/Buy Nothing FLASH MOB

WALMART – A little RESPECT for DC, please!

SYRIA – SYDNEY FLASH MOB – SILENCEISBETRAYAL

Flasmob Free Pussy Riot!

Arab Spring

China environmental protest

Target Ain’t People

4-15-11 TAX DAY-‘US UNCUT’ SAN FRANCISCO BANK OF AMERICA

FREE SYRIA

RBS uses 10 billion Bailout Money to invest in Coal

Christmas Climate Change Flashmob

Climate Change citizen gets through to Prime Minister

Occupy Bohemian Grove l

Achieving Global Unity

 

Too many chef’s will spoil the soup (Source: Box of my stuff)

As Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute says, given the multiple ecological crisis we are experiencing, time is the scarcest resource of all. We need to mobilize on an unprecedented scale and span of time;  Brown, along with many other prominent activists are calling for a wartime mobilization. Yet, we need only look outside our front door to see that most people are treating the situation as business-as-usual. While people are more aware, the urgency is missing.

To mobilize the world to make the necessary paradigm shift will be the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced and to do it requires a level of unity that is equally unprecedented. But one look at the news – with all the ongoing conflicts, brutality and selfishness, we can appreciate how daunting a task this is.

What will it take for humanity to unite when there is such obvious disunity all around us? There are as many stories of what is right as there are human beings on the planet. And since our views of the world determine our actions in the world, it is clear that for this unprecedented level of unity to manifest,  we must quickly come to an understanding of all the stories people are being told out there. We need to get to the source of the apathy.

3 Stories

With each passing day, many of us are beginning to recognize that the ecology of the planet is in serious trouble. Yet, our response does not seem to match the severity of the problem. There is an urgent need to unite and in a way that is unprecedented. Lester Brown talks about the need to mount a wartime mobilization but to do that, we need to all see a common enemy. Unfortunately, we don’t see that yet.

In order to unite, we need to believe in a common story. But there isn’t one. There’s at least three…


A few are very serious about doing something and are going completely off grid

Others think that by recycling, composting, etc we are doing enough  

but for many, it’s just business-as-usual…there’s no problem at all!

Changing behavior only comes from first understanding the stories out there and from responding to each of those stories in an appropriate way, to form a global movement that has the scale to make the necessary changes.

The Need for Systemic Change

I’m fully aware that we’re embedded in the world that fossil fuel has made, that from the moment I wake up, almost every action I take somehow burns coal and gas and oil. I’ve done my best, at my house, to curtail it: we’ve got solar electricity, and solar hot water, and my new car runs on electricity—I can plug it into the roof and thus into the sun. But I try not to confuse myself into thinking that’s helping all that much: it took energy to make the car, and to make everything else that streams into my life. I’m still using far more than any responsible share of the world’s vital stuff.

And, in a sense, that’s the point. If those of us who are trying really hard are still fully enmeshed in the fossil fuel system, it makes it even clearer that what needs to change are not individuals but precisely that system. We simply can’t move fast enough, one by one, to make any real difference in how the atmosphere comes out. Here’s the math, obviously imprecise: maybe 10 percent of the population cares enough to make strenuous efforts to change—maybe 15 percent. If they all do all they can, in their homes and offices and so forth, then, well . . . nothing much shifts. The trajectory of our climate horror stays about the same.

But if 10 percent of people, once they’ve changed the light bulbs, work all-out to change the system? That’s enough. That’s more than enough. It would be enough to match the power of the fossil fuel industry, enough to convince our legislators to put a price on carbon. At which point none of us would be required to be saints. We could all be morons, as long as we paid attention to, say, the price of gas and the balance in our checking accounts. Which even dummies like me can manage.

I think more and more people are coming to realize this essential truth.

- Bill McKibben, in Orion Magazine

Real Listening 

There are as many ideas to build a sustainable future as there are people. To create a global unity of the scale required is challenging because it’s going to require moving out of our comfort zone. As adults, we often have a limited kind of openness. We are open to those who share our own perspectives but closed to those who don’t. If we are serious about unity, we are going to have to really hone our listening skills.

The paradox is that as children, we learned by listening but as adults, many have turned that listening function off. By the time we are adults, we have also developed another quality which can impede openness – a strong sense of ego. The distance between me  as a child and me as an adult cannot be any greater. The openness which allowed ideas to flow into me and made me into who I am today has been replaced by a kind of closedness which disallows new thoughts. Hence we often get entrenched in old ideas which our ego defends. When we were children, we welcomed new ideas, as adults, they make us defensive. This human challenge is what lies at the heart of the challenge of unity.

Nike Harre and the Power of Positivity

What we do in the next few years will be critical for the long term future of human civilization. We will be squeezed like a vice between Peak Oil and Global Warming. Presently, we are not prepared for the consequences of even one of these events. We can be like a foolhardy patient and ignore our doctors warnings only to suffer the enormous consequences later. The time to prepare and develop resiliency is now.

logo-open-ideo

 

Open Ideo is a collaborative platform whose purpose is to enable knowledge sharing between members of the public to crowdsource solutions together. All knowledge created by this collaborative process is shared with everyone.

Hardly a day goes by when I do not hear appeals – often laments – from people deeply concerned about the travails of human existence and the fate of the world, desperately eager to do something about what they rightly perceive to be intolerable and ominous, feeling helpless because each individual effort, however dedicated, seems to merely chip away at a mountain, placing band-aids on a cancer, never reaching to the sources of needless suff ering and the threats of much worse. It’s an understandable reaction, and can too often lead to despair and resignation. We all know the only answer, driven home by experience and history, and by simple reflection on the realities of the world: join together to construct and clarify long-term visions and goals, along with direct engagement and activism shaped by these guidelines and contributing to a deepening our understanding of what we hope to achieve. But the formula, while accurate enough, does not respond to the pleas. What is missing is concrete proposals as to how to proceed. IOPS strikes the right chords, and if the opportunities it opens are pursued with sufficient energy and participation, could carry us a long way towards unifying the many initiatives here and around the world and molding them into a powerful and effective force.

- Noam Chomsky

The interim International Organization for a Participatory Society (IOPS) was launched in 2012 with the aim of propelling activism for winning a new world. IOPS is structured as a bottom-up, international organization, based on self-managing interconnected national branches and local chapters. Currently, IOPS is in an interim stage, and by joining IOPS you become an interim member. A convention, or series of conventions, will be planned within the next year, for membership to determine the organization’s definition in more detail.

The IOPS Interim Organizational Description consists of the following key documents:

IOPS is open for anyone wishing to join who shares the goals, values and visionary commitments laid out in the organizational description.

We the signers of this open letter from Noam Chomsky, Vandana Shiva, Boaventura de sousa Santos, John Pilger, and 40 other members of the interim decision body of the new International Organization for a Participatory Society, hope that you will circulate, email, and/or republish our letter, and, even more, that you will engage in and publish commentary regarding the organization’s purpose, implications, prospects, etc.

 

                                                                        An Open Letter to All Who Seek A New and Better World

We are members of what is called the the Interim Consultative Committee of the International Organization for a Participatory Society – or IOPS for short.

IOPS is actually an interim entity, pending a future founding convention. IOPS was convened just a few months ago and already has over 2,100 members from 85 countries and a ten language site, despite that it is barely known publicly. IOPS is currently building local chapters, which will unite to form national branches that in turn will compose an international organization.

We send this open letter to invite you to please visit the IOPS Site to examine its initial features – including especially and most importantly its Mission and Visionary and Programmatic Commitments.

The IOPS commitments emerged from a long process of discussion and debate. We believe they correspond closely to the most prevalent, advanced, and widely accessible political beliefs on which to build an organization for winning a better world.

We also hope and even believe that if you read and consider the IOPS commitments, you will likely find that they are congenial to your interests and desires and that they provide reason for great hope that IOPS can become a very important organization in the coming years.

If we had to summarize the IOPS commitments, we would note that they emphasize:
that IOPS focuses on cultural, kinship, political, economic, international, and ecological aims without a priori prioritizing any of these over the rest;

that IOPS advocates and elaborates key aspects of vision for a sustainable and peaceful world without sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism, and authoritarianism and with equity, justice, solidarity, diversity, and, in particular, self-management for all people
and that IOPS structurally and programmatically emphasizes planting the seeds of the future in the present, winning immediate gains on behalf of suffering constituencies in ways contributing to winning its long term aims as well, developing a caring and nurturing organization and movement, and welcoming and even fostering constructive dissent and diversity within that organization and movement and based on its commitments.
We think hundreds of thousands of people, in fact, millions of people, will, on reading the commitments, overwhelmingly agree with them. We hope that if you look at the commitments and feel that way, you will join and advocate that others join as well. If you instead have problems with the IOPS commitments, we hope you will make your concerns known so a productive discussion can ensue.
On the other hand, we also understand that agreeing with the IOPS commitments will not alone cause those same hundreds of thousands and even millions of people to join IOPS. There are numerous reasons why a person might support the IOPS commitments and even hope that IOPS grows and becomes strong and effective at the grassroots, in every neighborhood, workplace, and social movement, and yet, at the moment, not join. Our best effort to summarize obstacles people may feel to joining even while they like the IOPS commitments, and to address those obstacles also appears on the IOPS site, in a Why Join IOPS Question and Answer format. Essentially we argue: If not now, when? If not us, who?

Asked to provide a succinct summary paragraph for the IOPS site about his involvement, Noam Chomsky wrote: “Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear appeals – often laments – from people deeply concerned about the travails of human existence and the fate of the world, desperately eager to do something about what they rightly perceive to be intolerable and ominous, feeling helpless because each individual effort, however dedicated, seems to merely chip away at a mountain, placing band-aids on a cancer, never reaching to the sources of needless suffering and the threats of much worse. It’s an understandable reaction that all too often  leads to despair and resignation. We all know the only answer, driven home by experience and history, and by simple reflection on the realities of the world: join together to construct and clarify long-term visions and goals, along with direct engagement and activism shaped by these guidelines and contributing to a deepening of our understanding of what we hope to achieve… IOPS strikes the right chords, and if the opportunities it opens are pursued with sufficient energy and participation, diligence, modesty, and desire, it could carry us a long way towards unifying the many initiatives here and around the world and combining them into a powerful and effective force.”

And as Cynthia Peters wrote: “You hear it all the time. There is always another urgent crisis. They don’t just come in a steady stream, they seem to multiply geometrically. More draconian policies with life-threatening consequences, more corporate control, more prisons, more bombs, more funerals. With so many immediate fires to put out in our day-to-day organizing work, how can we make time to attend to larger issues, such as long-term strategy, vision, and movement building? IOPS creates the space for us to do the essential work of movement building and envisioning and then seeking a better world. Without these elements, we’ll continue to work in isolation. By enlivening and enriching IOPS with your presence, you will both give solidarity to and receive solidarity from so many others — across the world — in the same situation — up to their necks in the daily fight, and at the same time turning their creativity and energy towards revolutionary social change. That is not just good company. It’s the solid beginnings of another world being possible.”

We hope you will join us as we try to make it so.

Signed,

Ezequiel Adamovsky – Argentina
M Adams – U.S.
Michael Albert – U.S.
Jessica Azulay – U.S.
Elaine Bernard – U.S.
Patrick Bond – South Africa
Noam Chomsky – U.S.
Jason Chrysostomou – UK
John Cronan – U.S.
Ben Dangl – U.S.
Denitsa Dimitrova – UK/Bulgaria
Mark Evans – UK
Ann Ferguson – U.S.
Eva Golinger – Venezuela
Andrej Grubacic – Balkans/U.S.

Pervez Hoodbhoy – Pakistan
Antti Jauhiainen – Finland
Ria Julien – U.S./Trinidad
Dimitris Konstanstinou – Greece
Pat Korte – U.S.
Yohan Le Guin – Wales
Mandisi Majavu – South Africa
Yotam Marom – U.S.
David Marty – Spain
Preeti Paul – UK/India
Cynthia Peters – U.S.
John Pilger – UK/Aus
Justin Podur – Canada
Nikos Raptis – Greece
Paulo Rodriguez – Belgium

Charlotte Sáenz – Mexico/U.S.
Anders Sandstrom – Sweden
Boaventura de sousa Santos – Portugal
Lydia Sargent – U.S.
Stephen Shalom – U.S.
Vandana Shiva – India
Chris Spannos – U.S.
Verena Stresing – France/Germany
Elliot Tarver – U.S.
Fernando Ramn Vegas Torrealba – Venezuela
Taylon Tosun – Turkey
Marie Trigona – U.S.
Greg Wilpert – Germany/Venezuela/U.S.
Florian Zollman – Germany

Action at Three Levels

There are three major levels of possible action:

Government

  1. Improve efficiency and conservation
  2. Invest in Renewable Energy
  3. Invest in mass transit and transport
  4. Prioritize fuel use for food supply chain
  5. Promote public awareness
  6. Invest in R+D for sustainable technologies

Business

  1. Plan for higher fuel prices
  2. Invest in R+D into sustainable technologies
  3. Tighten efficiencies on entire supply /logistic chains
  4. Adopt cradle-to-cradle: reduce virgin feedstock & reuse waste
  5. Minimize embodied energy design methodology
  6. Telecommute
  7. Source materials locally

Individual

  1. Educate ourselves and others
  2. Reduce dependencies
  3. Localize: food source, business, suppliers
  4. Reduce/Reuse/Recycle/Repair
  5. Acquire useful skills
  6. Build resilient communities

The Impact of the Individual

I’m fully aware that we’re embedded in the world that fossil fuel has made, that from the moment I wake up, almost every action I take somehow burns coal and gas and oil. I’ve done my best, at my house, to curtail it: we’ve got solar electricity, and solar hot water, and my new car runs on electricity—I can plug it into the roof and thus into the sun. But I try not to confuse myself into thinking that’s helping all that much: it took energy to make the car, and to make everything else that streams into my life. I’m still using far more than any responsible share of the world’s vital stuff.

And, in a sense, that’s the point. If those of us who are trying really hard are still fully enmeshed in the fossil fuel system, it makes it even clearer that what needs to change are not individuals but precisely that system. We simply can’t move fast enough, one by one, to make any real difference in how the atmosphere comes out. Here’s the math, obviously imprecise: maybe 10 percent of the population cares enough to make strenuous efforts to change—maybe 15 percent. If they all do all they can, in their homes and offices and so forth, then, well . . . nothing much shifts. The trajectory of our climate horror stays about the same.

But if 10 percent of people, once they’ve changed the light bulbs, work all-out to change the system? That’s enough. That’s more than enough. It would be enough to match the power of the fossil fuel industry, enough to convince our legislators to put a price on carbon. At which point none of us would be required to be saints. We could all be morons, as long as we paid attention to, say, the price of gas and the balance in our checking accounts. Which even dummies like me can manage.

I think more and more people are coming to realize this essential truth.

- Bill McKibben, Orion Magazine interview

 

Is there still time to change our trajectory to avoid major global shocks?

The debate is still out but researchers such as Jorgen Randers and Timothy Meadows, authors of the original Limits to Growth study seem to think that short of an unrealistic global mobilization and paradigm shift, it will be too late to avoid many of the shocks that their models have projected.  Rander’s most recent study 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next 40 Years reaches the conclusion that  governments and market forces are currently  incapable of acting in the best interest of  humanity.

In 2009, Australian research scientist Dr. Graham Turner of CSIRO performed an updated study of the Limits of Growth entitled A comparison of the Limits of Growth with 30 years of Reality. In this study, Turner collected 30 years of data from 1970 to 2000 and compared it to Rander and Meadows original Limits of Growth MIT study confirm that since the release of the study in the early 1970’s, the world has followed the worst case trajectory – the Business-as-usual approach. This result is not surprising, given the recurring inability for countries to reach agreement on how to tackle the world’s most pressing problems such as climate change, pollution, population growth and resource depletion. The computer model for this worst case trajectory produces a global collapse event in the next few decades. Randers gloomy perspective that both government and business will continue to suffer from the same short term thinking that make the long term policy and investment that is required to protect the environment impossible to implement.

Jorgen Randers and Timothy Meadows, two of the original authors of Limits to Growth both advise that sustainable development is no longer feasible. They conclude that there is far too much momentum for sustainable development to make any difference in slowing down the negative inertia of the system.

For these reasons, activists such as Rob Hopkins, founder of Transition Networks are encouraging individuals and communities to take steps to prepare for major shocks by building resilient communities.

How do we as Individuals Take Matters into our own Hands?…Think Globally, Act Locally

Once we know the big picture, we can take appropriate action. There are two steps:

  1. Make a personal commitment and take responsibility for reducing our own ecological footprint
  2. THINK GLOBALLY & ACT LOCALLY

When we know what must be done on a global level, we can translate that down to action in our local level. It’s no longer good enough for words. The only thing that’s going to help is our own action…taking real and concrete steps to make change in our own personal lives.

 

Leveraging our many Social Networks

Each of us actually belongs to many social networks and once we decide to act, we can each influence many people in our various networks including:

  1. Home and family
  2. Micro-Community (ie. Townhouse, Apartment Complex)
  3. Community (ie. local neighbourhood)
  4. Workplace (also includes children’s school, parents groups, social groups, internet groups, industry groups, hobby groups, etc)
  5. Suberb
  6. City or town
  7. Province or state
  8. Country
  9. Planet
As Figure 1 shows, each of us is the center of many active communities of various sizes. Sometimes a community is geographically nested in a larger community. Other times, the community is spread out all around the globe as, for instance an Internet group.  Once we realize we are interconnected to many different communities, we can see that we ourselves do possess a lot of power for change. This power is strongest in our most immediate group where we spend most of our time… our family and home. Here, only a small group of people are involved in deciding and the action can be performed quickly. As we move further up our community group ladder, more people are involved, often even strangers so there is naturally more beuracracy and ideas inevitably get bogged down in meetings, discussions, differences of opinions and compromises before there is any action.
We must be aware of our power for change that we posess at each level and devote the right mixture of time and resources to each one. We can set targets, milestones and define a Return on Investment for each. Our action plan must consider action at all these levels and at each one, we must find the most appropriate means to accomplish our goal.
For our own immediate survival, we need to put a lot of energy into 1 and 2.  Here, we have the most power to make things happen immediately. We still have a fair deal of influence within our community and neighbourhood and in our workplace. As soon as we consider our influence in our city, country, culture or world, we have progressively less and less power. There is more beuracracy and longer delay time between idea and action.
We need different tools for different levels. At the home and community level, we can actually build solutions for ourselves….harvest rain water, use alternative sources of energy to get off the grid, grow our own fruits and vegetables, etc…At the higher levels, we may need to leverage medias tools more effectively, create a website to dessiminate information or we may join a larger movement.

Figure 1: Taking Personal Responsibility and Taking Action to Lower our Ecological Footprint at Different Community Levels in our Life

Working Together

The real impact will come when many of us are taking proactive steps. To achieve this, awareness and education will play a critical role.

 

Figure 2: Many People working within their own Communities  to reduce Ecological Footprint, Thinking Globally and Acting Locally will be the only way to Change the World


Develop Resiliency

We have two objectives:

  1. Personal and family resiliency
  2. Societal resiliency

Both are important but if Society falters, if Peak Oil and Global Warming tipping points occur a short time apart, personal, family and community resiliency become the top priority. Personal resiliency has an added bonus. As we prepare to make ourselves, our families and our communities resilient, it is actually making society resilient at the same time. This is because we are dramatically reducing our carbon footprint and if many people do that, it adds up to a large social impact.