The Problem We’ve Created

The world needs to reduce carbon emissions. While oil and gas were cheap, there were few incentives to seek newer, cleaner and renewable resources. But time is now the biggest factor. We’re running out of cheap energy and continuing to contribute to the current climate change problem. What, if anything, have we learned in the interim?

All week on TVO, The Agenda with Steve Paikin is broadcasting live from the University of Waterloo where the Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 is taking place.  Yesterday’s panel discussion on “Energy: the problem we’ve created” was lively and informative.  Panel members included Marlo Raynolds from the University of Calgary and the Pembina Institute, Robin Batterham, the president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and Zoe Caron, co-author of “Global Warming For Dummies”.  Also on the panel was Vaclav Smil from the University of Manitoba and author of “Energy Myths and Realities” who seemed extremely knowledgeable about the current state of our fossil fuel consumption but was completely without a vision that this could ever be different.  At one point Steve Paikin challenged him on his assertions that globally we are completely and totally addicted to oil and will never be able to change .  Paikin said something like  “Then we just carry with business as usual and kill ourselves and the planet?” and Smil responded with “well, everything has to die sometime, even the earth.” This honest, though depressing, response from Smil that reflects what many people secretly feel, though many won’t admit it. That is, we are up to our necks in the “Big Muddy” now, and there is no way out.  We (and our children and their children) are doomed.   This kind of despair breeds apathy and people who hold this view do little to work for change, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  And this suits those with vested interests in fiercely resisting change just fine!

But throughout history there have been social movements that have arisen when a small group of people stood up and said “No. Enough is enough.” We have the examples of civil rights movement in the 20th century, as well as the anti-slavery movement the century before.  Most recently, just this year,  there was Egypt and the explosion of the “Arab spring”. All of these examples show what happens when a minority of people take a firm, public stand which inspires others who felt too dis-empowered and hopeless to do work for change on their own.  This is the point we are at with the climate crisis right now, embedded as it is with indigenous rights, women’s empowerment, and all that falls into the broad “environmental” category (clean air, clean water, protection from health-endangering toxins). It’s time for those of us who understand the danger to our children and grandchildren’s future to take a strong stand against the threat.

Shift happens. Are you ready to make history?

More links: 

The Agenda continues to broadcast from the Equinox Summit every night this week at 8 p.m. EST (live). It is rebroadcast at 11 p.m. and is also available for viewing online.  I know what I’ll be doing this evening, as tonight they are talking about our transportation system in “The Way We Move.”

To listen to last night’s program, click here:  Energy: The Problem We’ve Created

To go this week’s Agenda info, click here:  Equinox Summit: The Problem We’ve Created

To get a sense of the movement that is afoot, here is Paul Hawken speaking about it at the 2007 Bioneers conference:


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