Written By: - Date published: 1:25 pm, November 19th, 2018 - 26 comments
Categories: activism, democratic participation, disaster, Environment, Ethics, global warming, International, political alternatives, quality of life, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: action, change, climate
There seems to be an odd thing about adopting new ways of thinking or doing things. It seems that there is usually a small group of people who practice or advocate for a particular thing, while the majority of people carry on thinking and acting as before as though awaiting permission to adopt whatever the new thing is. I’m no psychology student, and so while I’m sure there will be studies and a name given to the phenomena, I’m just going to settle for suggesting there’s a herd mentality that makes people averse to sticking out. Of course, as something gains traction, it’s the old thoughts and habits that might come to seem increasingly peculiar or marginal. And then they become abandoned, bar for a wee few people who cling on to the old thoughts and the old ways and who might be seen as a mirror opposite of those who initially push for change or adoption of the new.
For those who need permission – who require that “the new” first be endorsed by authoritative or mainstream voices they’d usually associate with “normal” and “acceptable”, then today’s letter signed off by 150 of society’s “great and good”, might have something to offer.
One hundred and fifty academics and researchers from around Aotearoa, including Dame Anne Salmond, Emeriti Professors and several Fellows of the Royal Society, have signed a strongly-worded open letter to the Government demanding bold and urgent action to tackle climate change.
This isn’t the first such letter to government claiming to represent a concern held by society in general. But given the timing of it and the standing enjoyed by many of the signatories, it just might have more impact than previous ones. According to the report at Scoop, most of us are on board already.
A survey from earlier this year showed that 79 percent of people believed climate action needs to start immediately. A large majority also said we need to meet or exceed our international commitments, and that we should act even if other countries don’t.
The letter itself (download from the Scoop link) calls capitalism and consumerism into question and draws the link between those things and global warming
Infinite economic growth on a planet with finite resources is not viable. And yet successive governments have promoted free-market principles which demand rampant consumerism and endless economic growth, thus allowing greenhouse gas emissions to rise. If we continue on our current path, the future for our species is disastrous.
It concludes –
New Zealand could lead the world by immediately developing a data-informed plan for rapid decarbonisation of the economy. We demand that the government meets its duty to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come.
Finally then, it might be that eminent people who have benefited hugely from our current socio/political/economic norms are calling those norms into question and advocating they be abandoned. They are calling out the stupidity of government for promoting an economic paradigm that isn’t viable. They are pointing to the consequences of continuing to do that. And they are demanding the government stops doing it and honours its duty to protect us and ours, both now and in the future.
It’s a message basically in line with what growing numbers of people have been saying in recent years. It’s a message not so different to the thrust of Extinction Rebellion – an idea that’s seemingly gathering a growing and representative cross section of society under its wing. It’s far more powerful than some of the noble but misguided appeals that have come from some NGOs in recent years. Hell, these days there are even some elected representatives who look to be on board and who are engaging in useful if largely symbolic forms of direct action in their places of government.
On the basis that we’re all penguins then – the wave is ripe for jumping. Are you in? If not, then that’s okay, because someone has to help make up the numbers of that minority who will hang back and waddle around otherwise abandoned ice.