Greta got my attention! My daughter protesting at City Hall for Fridays for the Future got my attention! Speaking with my cohousing colleague, Katie McCamant as she was dealing with the effect of power outages caused by the wild fires in California, got my attention! The fires in Australia got my attention! And in the midst of all these layering realities the words of Willian Rees in two articles in the Tyee, made me stop!
In the first article, he makes the convincing argument that there is no way renewable energy will be able to meet and keep up with our growing energy demands. He says ” Despite the hype about the green energy revolution and enhanced efficiency, the global community in 2019 remains addicted to fossil energy and no real cure is on the horizon.”
In the second article Rees states, “Without massive rapid course correction, CO2 emissions will continue to climb. This threatens humanity with ecological and social catastrophe as much of Earth becomes uninhabitable.”
The article goes on to share an eleven step strategy.
1. Formal recognition of the end of material growth and the need to reduce the human ecological footprint;
2. Acknowledgement that, as long as we remain in overshoot — exploiting essential ecosystems faster than they can regenerate — sustainable production/consumption means less production/consumption;
3. Recognition of the theoretical and practical difficulties/impossibility of an all-green quantitatively equivalent energy transition;
4. Assistance to communities, families and individuals to facilitate the adoption of sustainable lifestyles (even North Americans lived happily on half the energy per capita in the 1960s that we use today);
5. Identification and implementation of strategies (e.g., taxes, fines) to encourage/force individuals and corporations to eliminate unnecessary fossil fuel use and reduce energy waste (half or more of energy “consumed” is wasted through inefficiencies and carelessness);
6. Programs to retrain the workforce for constructive employment in the new survival economy;
7. Policies to restructure the global and national economies to remain within the remaining “allowable” carbon budget while developing/improving sustainable energy alternatives;
8. Processes to allocate the remaining carbon budget (through rationing, quotas, etc.) fairly to essential uses only, such as food production, space/water heating, inter-urban transportation;
9. Plans to reduce the need for interregional transportation and increase regional resilience by re-localizing essential economic activity (de-globalization)
10. Recognition that equitable sustainability requires fiscal mechanisms for income/wealth redistribution;
11. A global population strategy to enable a smooth descent to the two to three billion that could live comfortably indefinitely within the biophysical means of nature.Memo from a Climate Crisis Realist: The Choice Before Us by William Rees
What happened next for me, was to reach out to some of my friends and neighbours at Prairie Sky with all the questions and anxieties, sense of overwhelm and powerlessness that this information generated. We formed a small group called Talking Climate to learn more and figure out what we might do. In the community of other concerned friends there was the opportunity to not be alone, to take a deep breath and to start to let this information sink in. To try to be like the frog and feel the impact of it through my skin.
Note: Checkout the Fridays for the Future Website. Their work continues including an in- person Global Climate Strike on September 25.