Two media items resonated with me today, starting my November knittings.
The first media item was on CBC Radio’s The Current: a warm up debate to the Munk Debates in Toronto tonight, with debaters George Monbiot and Bjorn Lomborg.The proposition: Be it resolved: climate change is mindind’s defining crisis and demands a commensurate response.A timely debate leading up to the climate negotiations starting next Monday in Copenhagen, to lay the groundwork for a global treaty to cap greenhouse gas emissions and stem climate change.(The debate is about how grave the threat is, and how much needs to be done to fight the threat, and what cost.)
The second media event spurring reflection is Annie Leonard’s new film: The Story of Cap and Trade: Why You Can’t Solve a Problem with the Thinking That Created It (http://storyofstuff.com/capandtrade/)
The bottom line, as I watch this debate, is this.Even the old-school form of debate is not going to convince anyone to do anything different than argue, rather than take action.Monbiot and Lomborg agree that there is a challenge we are facing in climate change.The fact that there is a challenge is not contested.What to do about it is.
While I surmise that no one actually thinks that the Munk Debates this evening will actually solve climate change, the format is indicative of the thinking that created the problem to begin with: state your position and stick to it all costs.The value of the debates is, in fact, in seeing clear positions.We benefit from seeing options as we make our way through the morass of information relating to climate change.
It is time, however, to get to the heart of what is really at issue, and find a way through the mess and seek doable, practical actions that will make a difference.But before I describe what this might look like, there is another consideration that should be raised with respect to climate change.James Lovelock is on to something: this is not about fixing Earth, but rather that we ought to adapt to the change that is occurring.It is the same, old thinking trap if we let ourselves think that climate change is a problem for us to fix, as if fixing Earth is something as simple as a lawnmower for a mechanic.Earth is not a simple system, but is rather dynamic.She has been around a lot longer than us, through many climate changes, and she will look after herself.Our job, then, is to look after ourselves.We don’t have anything to fix, rather we have to focus on what we need to adapt to, and how we will adapt, and, of course, when we will adapt.We might also wish to consider who will adapt.
Exploration of these considerations does not occur through debates about how to fix the problem.This simply merges two simplistic tactics to tackle climate change: debate and fix.
Two opposite approaches?How about ongoing generative dialogue and co-creation?For this, there is a whole new skill set required.We are no longer in an era where it is appropriate to set a goal and action plan and expect it to work.The variables are too variable.We need to be constantly sensing what is happeing in our world through information exchanges and conversation that welcomes diversity of insight.We need to be constantly sensing and noticing what is working in our world and what is not, which means constantly changing and adjusting the “plan”.The world is not longer a place where simple solutions will remotely address dynamic challenges like climate change.
This is the conversation I am hungry for in Alberta.We have at our disposal a prosperity that puts us in a place of responsibility.What can we do with our ingenuity that rests behind old ways of thinking and problem solving?
The place to begin is on the ground, with people practicing new ways of engaging in conversation.This is not about throwing away old ways of doing things, but broadening out our means to learn and adjust.We have the world in Alberta and Canada, and we are in a unique position to offer a wonderful ingenuity to meet the challenges we face.
What is within us that is waiting to be unleashed?