The ANZSEE 2019 Conference on Ecological Economics was held in Melbourne this week. I have collected a few photos and quotes from my notes below.
What do we want?
When do we want it?
If you have been to any climate protests recently you have probably heard the above rallying cry. Against the backdrop of deeply coordinated climate inaction on behalf of governments and corporations in rich nations, calling for climate action makes perfect sense.
We can view ‘climate action’ as any activity that aims to push us away from business as usual, from the status quo, in order to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
I wrote about the difference between individual change and system change earlier this year. I wanted to do some introspection to identify what individual actions I am taking in my own life to reduce my environmental footprint. I have grouped these actions into a few different categories below. These lists are not exhaustive, and will change and evolve over time.
I found collecting these lists helpful in looking at my lifestyle from different angles. Considering these different perspectives was perhaps more valuable than the exact items collected under each of the headings. Doing this also raised some interesting debates at home around what is considered reducing your footprint in the first place.
I am sharing these as a conversation starter rather than as a preconceived checklist for anyone else to follow, with the acknowledgement that all of this remains woefully inadequate given the enormity of the challenges we face.
I have been thinking about change.
Specifically, I have been thinking about the difference between individual change and system change. These terms are prevalent in the climate change discourse, and often presented as a black-and-white, mutually exclusive choice. This is a false dichotomy.
The unravelling, and a ball of thread
2018 was a watershed year for public awareness of ecological and climate breakdown. I had heard about these crises many times over the years, however I never really thought about them in a focused way. Last year, I decided to start studying.
Information on climate change and biodiversity loss is like an endless ball of thread. You pull the thread and more comes out. You keep pulling, the same thing happens. Now several months in, I am still pulling that thread, and still learning. Information ever more curious, ever more serious, ever more disconcerting.
Below, I am highlighting some of the more unorthodox material that I have come across. This is not a comprehensive review but rather a few points and observations on each source, to give you an idea.
I learned to swim in calm waters. Small lakes, predictable and easy. You don’t need to worry about the waves, or timing.
The ocean is a different beast. The coastline is beautiful, the waves majestic and powerful.
I am not a strong swimmer, and I was repeatedly reminded of this years ago when trying to learn surfing (which I failed).
Some of those moments: awe-inspiring waves, fun play in the water. Then a wave crashing over your head, a big tumble underwater, and a sudden realisation that you are not running the show – the ocean is.
Awe and fear.
In the 1990’s, I worked as a programmer and a software developer. Back then, using computer software was quite difficult for the layperson. I moved into the field of interaction design and learned about usability in the 2000’s. It was a revelation: we could no longer blame the user for everything that went wrong with software – the blame now lay squarely with us, the ones who made the software.
The disciplines of usability and interaction design, along with several others, have since evolved into a field we now tend to call User Experience. We follow an approach called Human Centred Design, which involves ‘the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process’.
I have spent nearly a decade and a half working in this field and have always held a strong belief that design should be human centred.
Lately, I have been having some doubts. Let me explain.
What if there was no cash at the ATM?
What if there was no petrol at the bowser?
What if your home didn’t have electricity or running water?
What if there was no food at the supermarket?
What if there was no ATM, or petrol station, or supermarket?
What would your life be like?
We have known about climate
change breakdown for over a hundred years. This knowledge has been more broadly accessible since the 1970’s, and it has become more acute by the decade. Yet, we have done nothing.
As climate breakdown fills the news every day now, people in wealthy countries are more aware of it. However, the general reaction has not been a change in individual behaviour, or demands for systemic change: instead, it is a mix of denial, apathy and mild despair.
This post is a list of essays and articles covering climate and ecological breakdown from various perspectives, including how these overlapping crises may induce collapse of industrial civilisation as we know it. This is companion piece to my essay on collapse – please read that first.
We are currently living in the early ripples of extinction-magnitude crises. There is no time for cheermongering or false hope. The time to act is now.
In the public imagination, the electric car – and the hybrid car before it – has been hailed as a key solution for consumers to reduce their environmental impact and help slow climate change.
As one indicator, web searches for Tesla are up over 450% from 2012 to 2018 peak, and the company is now valued at over US$54 billion on the stock market. The cars are selling, too: Tesla sales are up seven-fold from Q3 2015 to Q3 2018.