Manifesto for Conscious Chronicles, part 1: Climate change
In Conscious Chronicles I’ll explore two main positions and how they relate to one another.
1. Climate change is caused by flaws in the systems that govern our world. There are ways to mend those flaws but not without facing reality and patching the systems themselves.
2. The climate crisis is a symptom of underdeveloped human consciousness, which in turn is caused by our widespread materialist belief system. There are ways to change that, both on individual and collective levels.
Here is the first part of my manifesto. It’s still pretty rough and I’ll probably adjust it from time to time to reflect new learning as it evolves.
Manifesto part 1: Climate Change
1. If all of climate change already had a business model it would be fixed. There was a time where we could have created a sustainable way of life on Earth. We had the time, the knowhow, the money and the resources. But we didn’t and are now on a burning platform where different rules apply. We’re addicted to an unsustainable way of life, shovelling trillions of dollars into that which is killing us. We’re saying one thing and doing the opposite, not facing reality.
2. Where investment and innovation have been made in time, sustainability is now big business. Yet, we’ve failed to pay the ‘Green Premium’ (cost of switching to a sustainable way of life and enterprise) in too many areas of life and business, and have run out of time. In our constant pursuit of never ending growth and search for material fulfilment, we don’t value what we have or appreciate our interdependency on the natural world. The cost of losing our current standard of life, and restoring it where possible, is not being factored into the cost estimate of fixing climate change, delaying large-scale climate action because it seemingly is “too expensive”.
3. In most sectors we will see what I call a ‘Red Premium’ emerge: The combined costs of living and doing business under the regime of increasingly ‘adverse effects’ from climate change and adapting to a new climate reality and the Green Premium. These adverse effects have aptly been called an “Atlas of human suffering” by IPCC and will start to become more visible by this decade. In the course of this century we will witness untold suffering, such as supply chain collapses, social unrest, deadly weather conditions, geopolitical instability and more.
4. The only plausible instrument that lets us sustain our economic and political systems is the carbon tax (CO2-equivalent emissions tax, also including methane etc.), where polluters pay for their emissions, letting the market regulate itself towards more sustainability. As soon as the adverse climate effects escalate and start to enter the typical four year seat of power, politicians will be forced to implement the tax scheme and consumers and businesses will ultimately pay the bill. Food and energy supply chain instability, as well as increasingly volatile financial markets, will be among the first and most effective change agents because now climate change has truly arrived and become experienced large-scale suffering for individuals.
5. At first the carbon tax will be ‘too little, too late’ and some industries will for a period of time get a break because of lobbyism and society’s dependence on certain goods and services. But soon politicians will need to increase and expand the tax when the adverse climate effects start to take their toll and increasingly larger investments are needed for adaptation, drawdown and mitigation as well as national security. Ultimately we need one universal and sufficient carbon tax for everything and everyone, or it won’t matter. Other instruments such as regulation, shifting subsidies and a green taxonomy will also need to be put to use. Businesses will die or change, people will transition to new jobs and locations. It’s the future, or no future at all.
6. The carbon tax will favour those who have the most. They will seek to maintain their current standard of living as long as possible in what I call ‘nihilistic materialism’. Modern society relies heavily on resources from fossil fuels, especially cement, steel, plastics, and ammonia, which all have no viable replacement today. It’s unlikely that alternatives can be found and scaled fast enough to maintain our current way of life and the most vulnerable countries and individuals will pay first and most, ultimately with jobs, homes and lives. The ensuing social unrest, de-urbanisation and migration will be unimaginable and unprecedented, causing borders to close and inhibit free movement of labour, services and resources. I call this process ‘Inverse Globalisation’.
7. The carbon tax and adverse effects will create new markets and opportunities. For early movers and innovators, there will be a ‘blue ocean’ scenario where demand for novel sustainable solutions will see virtually unlimited demand in a kind of death spiral capitalism. Supply chains will struggle to keep up, but propensity to buy follows the rise of the Red Premium, leading to what I call ‘Purple Ocean’(purple is what you get when you mix blue and red). Purple Ocean is the missing business model of climate change that no one wanted. Business as usual is no longer possible and we’re forced into new models of resilience and survival.
8. You don’t need to read a lot to conclude there’s no real chance we’ll stay below a global temperature increase of 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels, which is the current target of IPCC. Very few that realise this will be a drastically altered climate reality. We probably can’t live with +2°C. Right now we’re headed for +3–4°C increase. The data is clear: our current “performance” (inaction) shows continuously escalating emissions and resulting temperature increase. From this decade and onwards ‘irreversibility’ will escalate: Changes to our planetary ecosystem that we can’t go back from, even if we wanted to and had the resources. It’s already begun, e.g. with tens of thousands of species extinct. Soon multiple feedback loops will kick in with exponential effects that are impossible to predict. Life as you know it is no more, and facing that reality is what may give us a fighting chance to sustain human life beyond this century.
9. The Purple Ocean business model will endure where societies are able to sustain human life and enterprise as well as (patched) economic and political systems. In our current egoic state, humans will want to save themselves before they consider other species, not realising the interdependency the species have on each other. We are all integral parts of the same natural world and its ecosystem, there are just too many of us for anthropocentric society to sustain itself. Of course, more and more individuals will start adopting non-scalable climate action when prices and suffering increase, i.e. eating less meat and flying less, which is better late than never but nonetheless too little and too late.
10. Although climate change is a systemic problem, there are still groups of people to be held accountable, such as the most emitting industries who knowingly chose self-preservation and greed over sustainability; politicians who chose ego, power and antiquated agendas instead of doing the right thing; lobbyists from all sectors who knowingly distorted truth and derailed attempts to find balance; and citizens around the world who could have done more but chose to ignore reality and consume like it’s 1999. There is a right and a wrong side of history and too many of us are on the wrong side today. Much of this has to do with underdeveloped human consciousness, which I’ll look at in my next post.
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Next up: Manifesto for Conscious Chronicles, part 2: Materialism v. idealism