Climate Talks, Communicating Climate Change, Technology

Mixed feelings over climate change communication in Bonn

« Technology won’t save us; trust me, I’m an engineer. »
Article and quote written by Antoine Gonthier

Taking the pulse of Solar Impulse

Why aren’t people more concerned about climate change? If this doesn’t apply to you then you are certainly familiar with that question.

That is one of the questions I hoped we would ask ourselves during the 4th Dialogue on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) taking place at the Climate Change Conference in Bonn last month. The objective was to help Parties and other stakeholders (intergovernmental and NGOs, private sector and media) exchange experiences, ideas and good practices on the topics of education, training and public awareness on climate change. Those topics are the focus of Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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Communicating Climate Change, Road to COP21, The Climate Nerd Chronicles

The Hunger games : the climate change arena

This article is part of the Climate Nerd Chronicles.

Bannière CN

Here we imagine Katniss and Peeta faced with a climate change arena.

« Ladies and gentlemen, let the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games begin ! ». Katniss took a deep breath and looked at the scenery. The tributes were surrounded by water, the salted kind. Behind her, she could see a beach and further away a lush forest, deep green, covering a very high mountain. She started to make a plan in her head : grab Peeta, rush to the forest, stay hidden there and take time to think of a better plan to survive.

   HG1

Since plans never work as intended, the two friends finally reached the protection of the forest stuck with Beetee, a science weirdo, who kept blabbering about the high concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. All Katniss and Peeta could think about was the heat, and how the shade of the trees would save them from the terrible sun  rays.

Lire la suite « The Hunger games : the climate change arena »

CliMates, Communicating Climate Change, International Climates, Photo Contest

CliMates’ Photo Contest 2015

11117769_476764192498700_843989246_n© CliMates

A thousand words…

Over recent years, scientists have gathered enormous amounts of data on the subject of climate change. But it has been hard to convince the world to change its ways with a series of charts and figures.

The novelist C.S. Lewis wrote: “Reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning”.

Lire la suite « CliMates’ Photo Contest 2015 »

Climate Politics, Communicating Climate Change, Language

World Leaders Must Promote New Meaning of Progress

This article is written by Henri Landes.

On Tuesday the 25th of June, President Barack Obama delivered a convincing speech on the urgency to act against climate change. His skillful rhetoric and inspiring optimism hopefully persuaded any Americans that still questioned the need to address the issue – politicians of the opposition especially.

After many years of reluctance, the United States should finally “officially” launch itself into the climate change fight, and should do so with an international perspective. Obama’s speech was undoubtedly a strong statement, notably taking into account a complicated international context of economic crisis, and a domestic one of divided politics. However, I would have liked to hear some newer ideas on how to mitigate climate change, as well as a connection drawn between climate change and a global socio-economic crisis.  

With regards to international solutions, Obama primarily stressed ending public financing for coal factories – unless carbon capture is included – trade of clean technologies and both bilateral and international cooperation to increase renewable energy development. As much as these are necessary, these solutions are all relatively consensual and old news in the world of climate activists. Few argue that we need to continue using the dirtiest energy source, and market based solutions for renewable energy upscale already have several success as well as failure stories (the second due in most cases to ineffective regulation and poor investment strategies, i.e. solar energy in France).

Market based solutions to climate change have been the United States’ trademark in international negotiations, to the dismay of developing countries who have looked to the US and other historical polluters for leadership in setting binding greenhouse gas reduction targets and in proposing regulatory measures. These market-based solutions are in my view largely insufficient to tackle climate change, and must be completed with others. The recent curve of global greenhouse gas emissions and climate trends of the past few years are ample proof (storms and flooding in South-East Asia, drought in Africa and in the US, etc.). We are currently on a path of roughly 4 degrees of global warming by 2060, and the next IPCC report in the fall will reveal much more troubling information.

Climate change is a problem of unprecedented nature, and it brings us to a turning point. It has been caused by certain aspects of our economic model of production and consumption, at both national and international levels. The inability of the world economy to effectively internalize the cost of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental degradation and natural resource depletion is undisputed. Lire la suite « World Leaders Must Promote New Meaning of Progress »

Climate Talks, Communicating Climate Change

Be Kind, Rewind

« We live in an agnostic age, no more great visions for society, all in small steps »
Ian McEwan, Saturday.

Complication and apathy

The so-called article before your eyes, with no substance except for yours truly’s mesmerising opinion, is about denouncing smart minds and weak hearts; glorifying stubbornness and fervour over leniency and patience. It’s for a good cause: so much energy is spent developing the mind that we forget about developing the heart.

For example, climate change is not even close to being straightforward: complex terms and convoluted justifications always intrude in on the debate. The irritated and frustrated, even demoralised, people involved have made fighting climate change so complicated that we could probably add it to the list of things that would obviously save lives but will occur only after it is too late (the US arms ban is already on it).

I don’t necessarily believe the main obstacle is those who impede all action, out of an unwavering belief or utter self-interest. For every naysayer, there is an actor who is exhorted to act for change. The main obstacle can actually be found in those who have been entrusted with the mission to act and, time after time, simply do not. These have the ability to sap hopes, concern and determination from the hearts of many. The result is a Silent Majority of people shrouded in apathy.

What would Winston do?

The leaders of the world are all a bright bunch and perhaps they are just too smart. What they lack to me is brawn to go with those brains. What happened to the fierce fighters in the arena? Those who always try and never back away when faced with political calculations or failure?

We have all heard of times when leaders were quite the opposite of (a)pathetic.: think about past figures, anyone from Mandela to Ghandi or Shaquille O’Neal (alright not this last one). Out of pure nationalism (that I dare hope you will forgive me for), I sometimes think of Winston Churchill (and yes Great Britain rocks some good Olympic Games!).

What would he think of current international shenanigans? What would Winston do? This man of defiance and wits does belong to another era and yes, he may not have cared about fighting climate change. But were he still around, he would definitely not have dilly-dallied forever. Negotiations would have been shaken up, diplomatic feathers would have been ruffled, and the scene would be different. A BBC article I once read, about another topic, stated that “This is the kind of mentality we need. Not a short-term goal, catering to the continuously shifting political whim, but a long-term plan where each step is achievable and sustainable.”

Tally-Ho

My point therefore is that it is as much about intellect as it is about guts. The former needs the latter in order to drive the point home, and without it we are but smart sheep.

Perhaps climate change is too difficult a threat to pin down precisely, maybe now is not the time to address such issues. On the other hand, we have never been so aware of the imminent danger of climate change as we are now, never been part of such a strong international community as we are at present and if our moment is not today, tomorrow won’t look good either (quick reminder: 1940 probably did not seem like the right time to defy the Nazis …).

Imagine what today can do with a few billion bold hearts and minds! We could mitigate, adapt, develop and protect. We might even be able to bring Freddy Mercury back (and God knows we need him). We, the people, youth, students, CliMates, we have to be the decision makers and the innovators who believe! Time to place brawn with brain power, determination with pragmatism and prove sharp savvy can come with blunt boldness.

by Jonathan Clarke

Communicating Climate Change

Young & Unafraid

Today we face, as humanity, one truly global threat. A threat that is total in the geographical, thematic and musical sense of the term. In effect, all regions of the world, all aspects of life (security, health, education…) and particularly all musical genres (from rock to rap, via folk/indie skat) are bound to be affected. True story.

It is therefore a threat that should bring people from all walks of life together, stronger than ever before. Younger, not so young(er), R&B-loving Ghanaians as much as the Merengue-listening Colombians… But enough with the silly musical anecdotes, this unity has yet to be witnessed, and that is no laughing matter.

For all of you that still wonder what the hell I am going on about, it’s not about cats taking over the internet, Christopher Walken’s stare, or yet another recommended diet from women’s magazines. The threat I am jabbering on about is climate change.

The force is strong with this universal threat. Despite the disheartening green-washing or the annoying green-bashing that has occurred, climate change has taken centre stage along with financial and social concerns amongst global leaders. Yes, they do meet at least twice a year to discuss it, or as some pessimists might say: have coffee, disagree and then jet home.

Nevertheless, whatever doubt there may remain concerning humanity’s responsibility, however much people grow frustrated about it, the fight against climate change is here to stay. Wrestling with climate change is inside the mind of a great and growing number of people, be it as a force for good, a nuisance or otherwise. It is no longer dismissed or forgotten. Even Tony Stark (aka Iron Man), the billionaire, genius, philanthropist, playboy (not necessarily in that order) from the last Avengers movie underlines that his new towering building’s greatest accomplishment is not that it is, in fact, towering over New York City, but completely energetically self-sufficient.

And there you have it. A comic book comparison done well. Not only is no-one surprised that such a fact is of significant importance, in the movie industry or in the world audience, but it also shows what great opportunity lies ahead.

As many people, in an attempt to stun you with overused knowledge, have probably already told you, the word “crisis” in Chinese symbols is made of both danger and opportunity. Climate change is no different. The danger is great, yes. But the opportunity that has arisen is far greater for humanity. We have before us now, the opportunity to finally get together and confront a common threat united.

What more binding threat than climate change, which does not discriminate, pick and choose or make any exceptions. Whether or not we agree upon its source, it is happening, and we must learn to adapt and mitigate it (unless you happen to be Canada). It is therefore a challenge we should not fear, but accept to change and confront.

Because humanity is only waking up to this, we (and I do include all generations, from Obama and students to your granny and Christopher Walken) are all the same: fresh, and young in the face of danger, perhaps too optimistic but full of energy in the face of opportunity.

It is a question of point of view. You can decide to have a headache over climate change negotiations or come up with innovative ideas to change the current unsustainable paradigm. This small step/giant leap is already happening (CliMates anyone?). So, yes, it is an innocent and naïve thought, but from where I’m looking, the greatest challenge will unveil the best in humanity.

To everyone, to all generations and especially the next, and to melting ice caps and droughts, we are all young and unafraid to find solutions. We are the people who move forward, with open eyes and open minds, gritted teeth and dashing smiles. We are of those that have made the world advance; we are united, bold and resolute. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Communicating Climate Change

Ecology, “like a candle in the wind”…

 

To be an ecologist during a Sunday’s lunch at the weekly family meeting can sometimes lead to drawing extreme conclusions. You politely ask why your step mother has left the light of the kitchen on, and you brutally lose the control of the discussion, which will surely end in an argument. From turning the light off it will slip to the energy dependence, the environmental risks of our abuse of energy, and to the sentence: “What would you like? To go back to the times when we only used candles? Urgh! Very funny coming from a person using a computer almost every day!” This is the point when you sense how true it is that the best defense is to attack. You are now rhetorically dead: either you stand on your (ecological) dignity and you are a reactionary hypocrite, or you claim the right to remain silent (and all the family will secretly deeply appreciate your strategic choice for stopping a tiresome familial moment).

Candles are a new obsession when it comes to ecology: in France, the allegory was used against those who dared to claim that the end had come for nuclear plants. It is a very useful verbal weapon, and a very interesting criticism. If you deny the power and benefits of progress, you are not legitimate in any kind of debate. Progress is seen as unilateral, linear, and you are either with it or against it. If you try to explain that nuclear-generated electricity is not a long term solution, or that a bicycle is more sustainable than a car, or that people should start to consider using less (one shower a day is enough – it’s proven), people will have this very significant physical reaction : the eyes rolling effect ; meaning “and here he/she goes again”. You are boring. Not a dreamer, not an utopist, not even too young to understand, just boring. Any argument approaching the idea of restriction is very dangerous. But nothing is more normal: after decades of mass consumption, we all integrated a right to reach the ideal of the unrestricted life. A life where you can buy more, where you can eat anything, where you can possess a house, a car or two, high technologies, hundreds of clothes and shoes. Our generation grew with that, and we all love to have everything. We all went on sales even if we didn’t need anything. We all consumed. Restriction seems an old nightmare.

Should an ecologist be offended by such a condemnation? Candles are a very ecological means to generate energy. Moreover it symbolizes centuries of strong collaboration between human intelligence and nature. This beautiful object of human culture is unfairly belittled as a tool from the past.

What is clever in a candle made of beeswax is that human beings found a use to a natural process that could have been left unseen. A beeswax candle is made by using the operculum slightly covering the delicious honey made by bees. By melting this operculum, we free it from its impurities, which give a candle of delicate natural scent. This resource could have found no use. But everything in nature is part of a process and every element of it is tight to each other.

What an unfair treatment done to candles, old and ingenious creation. How useful it has been for many poor lovers. The more pitiful dinner is gold when two lighted candles on the table light up the sparkles in the eye of the beloved. There is no doubt that the Little Match Girl of Anderson’s tale would have been in better shape had she been the Little Candle Girl. She might have ended her story breathing on a cake full of little colorful candles. Or she would have sculpted the wax, gotten well known and exposed her art in the MoMA. More seriously, how funny it is that candles have become the sign of a despised passed. For sure the Age of Enlightment was not lighted by nuclear plants. How many of our Great Men worked late at night in the glowing light of a beeswax candle? A simple bee is more to our history than one could imagine.

Considering how complex the chemical process of candle production have become (to color them, to produce perfumed candles, to shape them, or even to have them never melting), who could say that a candle is a synonym for decline? They did evolve, and are part of our art, our knowledge, our know-how. And, when a sudden electric cut occurs unexpectedly, when our nuclear plant betrays our confidence and leaves us blind in a frightening darkness, when your phone low on battery has stopped lightening your path to the hidden place where is hidden the relieving treasure: CANDLES! Fiat lux, et lux fit! You have the power, the light, the small flame and its heat, you are deeply happy. You are autonomous, you survived.

Ecologists, don’t repress the candle fanatics inside yourselves, candles might be the future we want!

 

Nadège Boisseau