Last night, my brother in law sent through a link to a podcast with Ezra Klein on which he interviews Saul Griffith – an Australian inventor, Macarthur genius fellow, and the founder and CEO of Otherlab, a high-tech research and development company on the frontlines of trying to imagine our clean energy future. By the way, I had never heard of him. Have you?
Anyway, Mr Griffith makes the point that part of the problem of selling the need for Climate Action is that nobody has pointed out how fabulous the future really can look. I can think of at least 4 people in 5 seconds who have said to me “I can see we’re going to have to change our way of life.” or “It’s hard but I guess we need to accept that there are sacrifices we need to make.” or “I just don’t see how the economy can survive the changes needed to address Climate Change.”
No planet no economy. That’s the memo I got. But more on economy later. And as for sacrifice…
Buying solar panels was a financially sound decision. That’s no sacrifice.
Insulating and double-glazing our house has made our lives significantly more comfortable. That’s no sacrifice.
Making all our appliances efficient and electrical has been good in so many ways. They’re great to use, they cost less money and they don’t pump our house full of carbon dioxide (according to Saul Griffith, burning natural gas in your home is very bad for air quality and has been linked to respiratory disorders in infants). No sacrifice there.
Getting electric cars has been bliss. Maybe that’s partly about who I am and what my values are. But even if you put that aside, I LOVE not having to go to petrol stations. I LOVE how quiet they are and the fact that they don’t make smelly emissions. (I am like a reformed smoker – have become quite sensitive to the smell of exhaust fumes.) And I love the cars themselves. The Nissan Leaf is small, nippy, easy to park and a great commuter/run-about. The Tesla is like a toy that just keeps giving. It is fun and smart and comfortable and pretty and changes abilities every couple of weeks – like a puppy learning new tricks. I definitely see electric cars as a huge positive, not as a sacrifice.
I think, if there is any part of the changes we have made to our lives that I would consider a sacrifice… it’s diet. For me personally, it’s not a huge sacrifice. I have always felt slightly guilty about how much I like meat and how much I like animals at the same time. Having this added incentive to change my life has made it easier to turn away from meat and I am finding that I really love vegetables and that it’s not hard to make vegetable dishes tasty. But I can’t say I don’t like eating meat. That would be a lie. But I feel GOOD about not eating meat. And I feel well while not eating meat. It is actually easier than I expected. But it would be interesting to get P’s perspective.
The point is, the changes individuals can make to have lighter carbon footprints are not hard. We are not going back in time to go forwards. We have the technology to make our lives better with Climate Action, not worse!!
And if you imagine these changes on a more global level – the air is cleaner. The waterways are cleaner. And of course the big one – hopefully we won’t end up with a planet gone haywire with crazy weather (see previous month’s entries), dangerous extremes and unreliable food production possibilities.
So maybe it is about marketing. We need to sell the beauty of the vision. Apparently back in the 60s there was lots of propaganda in the US about this amazing future in Outer Space. They aimed for the moon and they got there, no matter what the economic cost (it actually turned out to be an economic benefit). The Earth is a lot closer. The dream a lot nearer. And I think the economy could do with a boost.
Scotty from Marketing… you have a REAL JOB to do!