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Culture Change

Forming a
Global Warming Crisis Council

by Jan Lundberg

This is an invitation from Sustainable Energy Institute to anyone interested in exploring how we stop the burning up of planet Earth.  

While everyone was distracted with the Iraq War, the engine of global warming was revving to the max.  The war against nature goes on, but the daily grind and most people's materialist illusions blind them to taking action or discussing the issues.  

The effects of today's greenhouse gas emissions may not kick in fully for over 50 years.  Judging by consumers' and producers' behavior since 1988, when global warming was definitively announced as already in effect, the U.S. and other societies have shown that nothing has been learned.  

It's partly a matter of ignorance on the finer points: there are positive feedback loops that take global warming out of our hands once we light the fuse of climate change.  Ever see that on the front page of the newspaper or covered on the evening news interspersed with SUV commercials?  It is thus too little and too late for better fuel economy for cars because of the extreme state of the climate.  (This is why we published Auto-Free Times.)

Mike Gann and his bike cart make for cool message in Humboldt

Whereas there must be immediate action on many levels to deal with the climate crisis, and we cannot trust some of the "highest levels," it seems appropriate to form a Global Warming Crisis Council.  Initially, a North American council would seem workable.  There could be local affiliates to foster follow-though with unique solutions.  

There is a spirit of support for global action through community initiative, such as in our progressive town of Arcata in northern California, which on my birthday in 2000 formally adopted the Kyoto Protocol's goals to reduce greenhouse gases.  Kyoto was not great, but was a start.  Little has changed here except for "growth" since the freeway was allowed in the 1970s, but it might be because neither a viable mechanism to fight global warming nor the ability to live a truly green lifestyle has found community support.  A small yet visible percentage of the population tries to walk the talk, but the more someone does that, the more likely he or she is marginalized. 

What do you think of the name "global warming crisis council"?  Similar approaches with names we can make up would be New Economic Front, or Climate Protection Council.  They sound attractive, but to have global warming and crisis in the name seems advisable because of the urgency of the threat.

Such a body would be devoted to unprecedented action of many kinds, with a philosophy of inclusion.  We would work in conjunction with others, such as London's Campaign against Climate Change and Rising Tide, in terms of strategy and direct action.  We would utilize resources such as the World Meterological Organisation.  It was the WMO that announced July 3, 2003, that global warming was responsible for this year's record temperatures, and that the trend of human-induced climate distortion was nowhere but up.

The purpose of a Global Warming Crisis Council would be to reduce fossil-fuel emissions by 80% and halt deforestation. Massive conservation will accomplish these goals, but a global warmer's involuntary cessation of emitting greenhouse gases may be called something else, such as "replacing the global warming economy."  But no matter how the massive cut in greenhouse gas emissions is achieved, it would sink the global economy as we know it.  Mainstream environmental groups don't want to do this; they represent the status quo and their leaders fully intend to maintain their privileged lifestyles.

The end of the global and national economy does mean that certain healthy economic activity will come about.  But changing habits and in effect redistributing wealth in terms of consumption—ending opulence—may cause today's opposition camp to refuse to cooperate to allow the saving of our world from devastating climate destabilization.  Could this be the role of the well-funded wing of the environmental movement and its unworkable technofix agenda?

Workings of the GWCC
As sinking the current global economy is the goal or consequence of coordinated massive conservation (or deprivation), that is a prime purpose of inquiry by the Global Warming Crisis Council (GWCC). How the current economy is replaced, and how it is encouraged, would be a subject for the GWCC and its committees. A specific committee's job would be to pinpoint and foster other economics which will come to the fore, to deal with the anticipated loss of jobs associated with generating the most greenhouse gas emissions.

Consensus agreement among GWCC members would be essential on (1) the nature of the global crisis involving the science, (2) the failure thus far to cut back emissions due to shortcomings of mainstream environmentalism and government regulation, (3) taking drastic action that changes the way people live their lives as global warmers, and (4) supporting the GWCC's work through networking, fundraising and providing research and information.

Committees can comprise the GWCC so as to funnel the expertise of the participants on the council.  Renewable energy research and direct action to stop greenhouse gas emissions would be part of committees' work. Communications/Outreach and raising money for operations would be other obvious committee roles.

The diversity of people joining the GWCC to actively serve would prevent overspecialization or conflict of interest from overwhelming the GWCC's work. For example, large environmental organizations' representation would have to be kept in check so they can't dominate the discourse and work of the GWCC.  The GWCC or a committee could vote to let someone join the GWCC and assign the person to a committee, and vote to remove someone.

Economic collapse is not a popular platform. But as oil supply will soon tighten suddenly, whenever the peak on global oil extraction passes and is felt by the market, the dominant economy will begin its collapse regardless, as the petroleum infrastructure falters.  Any emergency actions taken to soften the fall of petroleum civilization for the sake of one's own household, such as turning a driveway and lawn into a food producing garden, can be taken equally as responses to the global warming crisis.  The benefit is to foster a new sustainable culture.

So we now have two overriding reasons to cut petroleum dependence to a major extent as soon as possible.  Even if we started on a wide basis to transform the economy to bioregional economies through stopping long commutes (as one of many measures), economic collapse and resource shortage are a certainty and will create painful upheaval.  Yet, the impact of collapse can be softened to the extent we prepare now and change our way of living.  One set of suggestions is in the Pledge for Climate Protection that SEI offers.

The GWCC would publicly recognize that there is no sense in having a policy to wait around to see if a green consumer economy appears, as energy from windmills is maximized, for example. Indeed, the misinformation and false hope for maintaining current overpopulation without abundant, endless petroleum is what the GWCC would be up against from the get-go.  However, all good localized efforts for self-sufficiency would be encouraged.

To be truly effective, the consumer's worldview would have to change.  There has been sporadic progress in people developing alternative consciousness and liberating themselves from the myths of mainstream materialism.  The limited politics of polite engagement with the dominators;.e.g., supporting a lesser-of-two-evils ruler, is an obsolete strategy.  Some concerned citizens try to reject "$ick $ociety," by not being part of the general insanity regarding values that prevails.  Improved lifestyles and supportive communities can go a long way toward providing an alternative for lingering in the sickness of short-term consumerism.

Please reply to me at if you want to start the GWCC, and provide names and contact info for those who (1) might want to build the GWCC and (2) those who, after it is established, should be nominated to serve.  A provisional membership can be created by informal consensus.  Expertise is first needed on how to structure and launch this project and on presenting it to the public effectively.  [Since the appearance of this column, the GWCC has been tentatively launched as of July 29, 2003.  See webpage for GWCC and join.]

Feel free to forward this so we can get maximum feedback.  Thank you for considering your participation.  More reasons to do so:

The Sierra Club's Executive Director, Carl Pope, has a new article in the premier issue of Green Car magazine.  If that weren't bad enough, his article is titled "Technology Can Save the SUV."  Pope was once pied by the Biotic Baking Brigade for his group's constant compromising on forestry issues.  "The Sierra Club is such a sell-out it's ridiculous," says Jen Petullo of the Redwood Peace and Justice Center, Arcata, Calif.  As less than half the motor-vehicle air pollution comes out of the tailpipe (due to manufacturing and mining associated with vehicles)—as I've said in the New York Times—it is no solution to switch fuels.  The car has to go, or 95% of them have to!  Don't buy a new one, whatever you do.

Yes, you decide if you contribute to and/or allow global warming.  Although the Earth does vacillate in temperature in the short- and long-term, burning fossil fuels and deforestation are voluntary and they are the determining factor in climate change today.  The scientific community has endorsed this, as exemplified by the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  The IPCC stated over ten years ago that to save the climate, the world had to cut back fossil fuels emissions by 60-80% of 1990's level.

The skeptics of global warming—as to its existence or significance—just happen to cling to non-conservation living and they oppose regulating greenhouse gas emissions.  We are forced to accept their "right."  This we do the the point of letting industry have its way regardless of the science.  We shouldn't get too upset just because our planet's life is being destroyed for greed and power.

Remember the 1990s' role?
If we step back from the burning crisis, we see that thirteen years ago the 1990s were considered to be pivotal: whether the threats posed by global warming, ozone layer depletion and species extinctions were to be checked, or instead devastate the planet like a nuclear war.  In the World Wildlife Fund's Atlas of the Environment, 1990, the Introduction warns:  

"The 1990s will decide whether the world can act fast enough to stop the crisis escalating out of control."

The 1990s came and went, and things are even worse now.  Therefore, whatever approach was taken in the 1990s does not deserve to be relied upon now.  At least, a new approach must really lead.  We at Sustainable Energy Institute thought we were offering it soon after our founding in 1988, but we weren't, even though we were announced in Washington, DC at our formation as a "global warming center."

This economy must be sunk and sacrificed if we are to stop the destruction of the source of life.  While it is true that an economic crash is a disaster in itself and would have serious ecological impacts, there does not appear to be an alternative economy we can readily substitute.  There cannot be a substitution until the old guard is clearly falling, and only then does the alternative manifests itself.  It awaits inside us.  The masters of the economy won't step aside or "do the right thing" judging by their extreme behavior so far.  So the world's overpopulation is going over the cliff and most of us do not appreciate we are in a free fall.

Who are the global warmers?  It may be mainly "them," but it is also us.  Don't participate in global warming—to the point that you feel it hurt.  It also is the point of being fully alive.

We frogs know the water in the pail we are in is starting to boil, but we don't realize that the faster the water heats the greater the fire underneath is automatically stoked.  From stoked to croaked, that interval should be spent on real solutions rather than worrying mainly about which frog is most obnoxious.

Jan Lundberg
Sustainable Energy Institute
P.O. Box 3387, Santa Cruz, CA 95063 USA


Take the Pledge for Climate Protection
See our new Overpopulation webpage
Check out the website of the Campaign against Climate Change/Rising Tide  
and The Independent's report on the alarming findings of the World Meterological Organisation
Climate change could be next legal battlefield: Climate Justice Programme 
See Food Not Lawns
See Fall of Petroleum Civilization
Hear Have a Global Warming Day
See City of Arcata's adoption of Kyoto Protocol's goals  
See SEI's/Culture Change's Donate page 

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