What can you do?
Vote for the 6% solution
Welcome to the web version of Need to Know: Science & Insight, a new form of personal journalism.
Hello again. We’re in a tough spot: The pandemic, climate crisis and substantial decline of our planet’s life-support systems. Let’s call these gravity-like realities. People can loudly deny these all the way down to the bottom of the elevator shaft. The only issue is how are we going to deal with these realities and get ourselves out of the mess we’re in.
But first a brief anecdote to illustrate another reality: I’m not a morning person.
It was far too early in the morning. Bleary-eyed, I mumbled my way through a zoom presentation to a group of small business owners. It should have been dead easy. All I had to do was talk about myself for 15-minutes. That’s a topic I should know pretty well. And it’s not like I’ve never talked about myself before — right family and friends?
And yet I was terrible. Incoherent. Rambling.
Yes, family and friends, nothing unusual about that either. This time I was aware of it. Part of my brain was like a colour sports commentator:
“I don’t think English is his first language….whoa, a new record; 5 completely unrelated thoughts in a row…. I don’t know where his head is at this morning.…”
“What can we do as individuals?” asked a woman when I finally closed my mouth. Unfortunately, I was still locked into my word-babble trance and didn’t know exactly what I’d just been talking about.
Oh right: I’d been talking about the lack of action on climate change despite all the pledges by countries to eliminate their carbon emissions. I didn’t mention a brand new United Nations report revealing that countries like Canada and the US still plan to increase their fossil fuel production over the next decade. Yes, increase, knowing the world needs to slash production 6% per year from now to 2030 to have any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Here’s what UN Secretary General António Guterres said the other day about the report:
“The G20 members, in their [COVID-19] rescue packages, are now spending 50% more on sectors linked to fossil fuel production and consumption, than on low-carbon energy.”
“If we don’t change course, it is suicide.”
[Here’s a video of Guterres’ talk]
I didn’t mention the UN report because talking about collective suicide is too depressing so early in the morning.
My answer to “What can we do as individuals” question was: “Vote for people who will do something on climate”.
I didn’t elaborate on what I meant; instead rambled on about reducing consumption and taking long walks or something. However my first answer is worth some elaboration.
Voting for people who say climate change is a priority is no longer good enough. People who ignore climate change are dangerous fools, and shouldn’t be given any position of public responsibility, not even dog catcher. Let’s call that a need-to-know.
Our voting has to be for people who not only know we’re in a climate emergency, but also understand what has to happen to deal with it (the 6% solution), and have a plan how to make that happen. And this applies to all levels of public service: municipal, county, school boards, service clubs, etc.
So the need-to-know here is: Even the dog catcher (animal control) needs to be part of the 6% solution team — cutting carbon emissions 6% per year. That means never idling their trucks, buying climate-friendly animal feed and doing a dozen other things to shrink their carbon footprint. We all need to shrink our individual footprints. But acting collectively is what will make the biggest difference by far. That’s why we need to vote for people who know how to co-operate with others and are competent in whatever role we’re electing them to perform.
Given the enormous challenge of cutting emissions 6% per year, competence and co-operation must be prized over all else.
With the pandemic we’ve seen to our horror and sorrow what happens when we vote for people who are unqualified, incompetent and serving their own interests or some abstract ideology. That’s the road to disillusion and anti-government attitudes whose destination is disaster and chaos.
There are enormous numbers of people who are smart, competent, and co-operative. Why aren’t we voting for them? Why aren’t they running for public service? Why aren’t they rising to the top?
Bottom line: We need to raise our standards.
Until next time, stay safe.