The Month of May!

For all my life this has felt like a very special month.

And, dear friends, at the risk of repeating myself to many of you, this is why the month of May is special for me.

Simply that I was born in London during the closing months of the Second World War. Inevitably, I was unaware of the number of German bombs that were falling on London during those last few months. But there were thousands.

On May 8th. 1945, the day that WWII ended and six months to the day from when I was born, my mother looked down at me and said aloud to me: “You are going to live”. Despite the fact that I don’t recall my mother saying that, it was verified many times later when I was growing up.

Now here we are approaching May 8th. 2017 and in a very real sense it seems that we are in another war.

A war of consequence.

A war that we have been engaged in for many, many years.

A war where we are inadvertently fighting on a global battlefield.

A war where 99.99% of us don’t consciously identify the weapons we are using. Weapons that are incredibly effective. So much so that we are in sight of winning the last battle; winning the war.

Yet a war where winning is no win at all. Indeed, where winning this war, this global war, spells the end. The end of life for 99.99% of us humans (and much else besides).

Now what on earth has got me so fired up?

Two things have:

The first is that I am living in my 73rd year of life. I have no idea of when my life comes to an end. But that death is a guarantee. Indeed, if one takes note of the average life expectancy of a male today in the USA (75.6 years) , it may not be that far away.

The second thing is that before my death I truly want to know that humankind has laid down its weapons of war against our planet and that there really is an unstoppable mission, a united wave of passion, to live in peace on this planet. Perhaps better put to live in peace with this planet.

Or in the words of an organization that I now want to introduce:

A mission which will require the hard work and dedication of each and every one of us as we do everything in our power as individuals, but also as we galvanize businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, city planners, communities, people and politicians—all those who share our purpose.

OK! Thank you if you are still reading this! (Someone give Fred in that soft arm-chair over there a nudge; I can hear his snores from here!)

In the last Smithsonian electronic newsletter that I was reading yesterday morning there was a reference to an organization that I hadn’t previously come across. Here is the link to that item on The Smithsonian website. I am republishing it in full in this place. As you read it you will understand why I am republishing it.

ooOOoo

Using a New Roadmap to Democratize Climate Change

A new tool aims to bypass governments and put the power of climate action in the people’s hands

By Anne Glusker    Smithsonian.com     April 28, 2017

Olafur Grimsson, who was president of Iceland from 1996 to 2016 and saw his country through the worst economic crisis in its history, making headlines all over the world as banks collapsed and the country fell into a depression, is the very picture of an urbane statesman. Collected and poised, with a striking full head of white hair, as comfortable in English as in his native Icelandic, he seems an unlikely revolutionary, not the sort of person you’d look at and immediately find yourself thinking: “Power to the People.”

 But Grimsson is one of the primary architects of a quietly radical new idea whose aim is to facilitate action on climate change without any of the usual suspects—governments, countries, international bodies, negotiating parties.

He and several other veterans of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change were in Washington, D.C., last year, just before COP22, the climate meeting held in Marrakesh in 2016. They were pondering next steps when the conversation took a new and interesting turn, Grimsson says, addressing the question: “Was it possible to have the success of Paris without governments necessarily being in the leading role?”

The group included movers and shakers such as Peter Seligmann, the chairman of Conservation International; Laurene Powell Jobs, president of the philanthropic organization the Emerson Collective; and Andy Karsner, an assistant energy secretary during the administration of George W. Bush. Galvanized by their own query, they decided to try to answer it—to set about creating a new tool to aid in achieving the goals of the Paris accord.

At the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Summit, a gathering this past weekend of conservation-minded citizens, scientists and activists, Grimsson explained: “You get governments that are opposed or even hostile to climate action. We decided to bring together in Marrakesh a gathering of thinkers and scientists and innovators and policymakers from different countries in order to discuss a new model of securing the success of the future of the climate movement.”

At the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Summit, the former president of Iceland Olafur Grimsson encouraged new solutions to climate change, awarding cash prizes to the winners of the “Make for the Planet” challenge. (The Roadmap)

Grimsson’s group felt that due to changes in information technology and social transformations, the large organizations and structures that used to be necessary to effect change were now not needed. And thus was born Roadmap, a new crowdsourcing tool for anyone and everyone interested in climate action. Still in its very early stages, Roadmap’s founders envision it as a platform for those working on climate issues—from scientist and policymaker to farmer and fisherman—to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas, methods and techniques.

“A new political model is possible—where everyone can be a doer, where you no longer need big government or big enterprises to bring about success,” Grimsson says.

This new model for social change that skips the usual cumbersome channels and processes has been seen everywhere from public health, where the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has redefined the sector, to the hospitality industry, which is working to combat the human trafficking that plagues its businesses, to perhaps most famously the Arab Spring, where the role of social media in bringing about political change is still being debated today.

And this new model is complemented by technological changes. “The innovation in energy technology is such that we no longer have to wait for the big energy breakthrough,” Grimsson says. “We already have the available technologies. Every individual, home, village, community, town and region can execute change. The good news from the climate point of view is that, in addition to the information technology revolution, there has now also taken place an energy revolution. A house can be a power station: If the people who live in that house have extra energy, they can sell their energy through the smart grid. The notion that every house can be a power station is as revolutionary as saying that every mobile phone can be a media company.”

Grimsson admits that it may seem odd for someone in his position to be advocating that ordinary citizens take action apart from the conventional corridors of governmental power.

“For me to say that these traditional political organizations and positions are somewhat outdated is perhaps a strange statement: I was a professor of political science, I’ve been a member of parliament, I’ve been a minister of finance, I was president for 20 years,” he says.

It was during Iceland’s financial meltdown that he first experienced this new kind of social change: “I saw this very strongly through the financial crisis in my own country, which led to a big social economic uprising. All those activities were engineered by unknown people, people who were not part of a big organization, who used Facebook and the information media to bring thousands of people together in one day.”

Right now, Roadmap consists of a website and a lofty manifesto that speaks of raising the value of “moral currency” and creating a “best practices warehouse.” Visitors to the site can fill out a form if they want to become part of its community of “doers.” The practical part of the manifesto speaks of identifying the best methodologies and models; implementing a “real-time system of measurement” and a way to “gauge and understand what is working, what is not, and exactly what is being achieved.” As the platform develops, it will be interesting to see exactly what form these gauges, measurement systems, and warehouses take.

After the Paris Agreement, Grimsson says of himself and his Roadmap co-founders, “We were all optimistic, but we are all also realists.” It is his belief that if you “give people the tools, they can execute the transformation and the change—without governmental leadership.” Perhaps Roadmap will be one of those tools.

 ooOOoo

Here’s a video that spells it out in ways that I find impossible to ignore. (And, yes, I signed up, as in joining, yesterday afternoon.)

Because in hundreds of years time I want others to look at the following picture of Troutbeck Valley in England and know how precious is this one and only planet we live on.

Or in the words of Sue Dreamwalker that I read yesterday evening:

We are witnessing more storms, more unseasonal weather patterns, and I just hope that we wake up soon to the damage we are doing to our beloved Mother that has held us in her eternal arms for so long..

Photo credit: Getty Images

Enjoy the month of May wherever you are in the world!

Closing by repeating a key pronouncement in that RoadMap video above:

Why We? Who Else!

11 thoughts on “The Month of May!

  1. Olafurr Grimsson and the other leaders mentioned here are very inspiring Paul. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. It gives one hope.
    My 26 year old son recently told me that he won’t be having any children as the world is already very over populated. Given that this, imo, is the No. 1 world problem, I think his decision, although sad in a way, is also highly responsible – and one that I wish others living in religion-obsessed areas of the world would emulate. If this problem is not addressed, then I think problems of climate change, over extraction of natural resources, declining fisheries, deteriorating soils, water shortages, loss of biodiversity etc will be impossible to resolve.

    But I’m so glad that individuals and groups like the ones in your article are out there and trying. Perversely, the election of Donald Trump and his band of Neanderthals, may have also helped to galvanise many people into action – or, at the very least, made them think about voting wisely next time.

    By the way, although the European war ended in May 1945, the official end of WW2 was after the Japanese defeat in the Pacific – according to historians on either the 14 August 1945 (V-J Day), or on 2 September 1945 with the formal Armistice agreement and surrender of Japan.

    Finally, Paul, thank you for that gorgeous photo of Troutbeck Valley in England. It’s picture perfect and soul elevating.

    1. Oh Marg, it’s 5:40 in the morning. I was woken up a few minutes ago by one of the dogs seeing something through our bedroom window that warranted a howl! Jean still sleeps on.

      Your fabulous response, your gorgeous perspective lifts up my heart. Thank you!

  2. This is superb, and oh-so-timely. With Agent Orange doing his colossal stupid dance in Washington we must all simply ignore him and whatever retarding policy he might try to sign. It’s time to put a new pro-active spin on Ghandi’s satyagraha. We are fortunate to have Grimsson, and others, who can lead this.

    Great post Paul. A good way to start the week!

    1. Yes it’s time! Time for every single person to make a positive difference. Even, as you imply John, if it is only a small step. Who was it that declared that the longest journey starts with a single step? Thank you, John.

  3. I had not heard of roadmap before Paul.. But I do think politics is like the climate changing.. And eventually I think Mr Grimsson and others in the future will come together to create such Changes within our communities.. Change starts within each of us.. We have to change our Habits and ways of being.
    I will look into the link of roadmap Paul thank you.. And many thanks for including the quote from my post..
    🙂 Sue

    1. Your quote was so apt! There’s no question that we have to change our behaviours but what scares me is the degree of climate change already in the system; so to speak. Even this week’s Economist had a lead article about the consequences of the huge decline in the volume of the Arctic ice.

      1. Yes when it gets to a certain tipping point it will escalate; no doubts Paul.. Trouble!!

        I just came from a friend’s blog and left her a video link I know you will have seen before Paul from Seven Suzuki.. in 1992.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaOJrJ_oqFU I still have it on my paste button.. Nothing has changed or will.. While greed is the main theme of the game of those in power.. They couldn’t care less, or maybe they know its already too late.. but I think the former for most..

        But it’s we the consumer who have to alter our habits… And change the systems in place.. I don’t know how, except to try to live eco friendly as possible, grow my own food, and be conscious of preserving and protecting our environment.. One pebble in an ocean.. But then they say a hurricane can be started with the beat of a butterfly’s wings.. lol.. It’s only in Unity we will alter things within our world..

      2. Oh, that video! Yes, recall watching it some time ago and it smacks home even more powerfully all these years later.

        Totally agree with the corrupting influence of greed and power. Perhaps better put as the influence of excessive greed and power.

        Maybe, just maybe, as we see individuals all across the world now becoming much more vocal in their anger at what is going on, much more active in supporting the need for positive change, the change that so many want to see may be close.

      3. I so hope so Paul.. I do see more posts now on these very issues.. And people are now waking up Global events . And we are may only be a small ripple at the moment Paul.. but may we soon create a tidal wave of like minds.. 🙂

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