Dr Alison Green
One year ago, I was at my desk, working as Pro Vice-Chancellor at a university, reflecting on the findings of the journal article that has come to be known as the ‘Hothouse Earth’ paper. The paper explored the risks that thresholds could soon be crossed that would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. I resigned from my post within weeks to focus on environmental activism.
The paper called for “collective human action”. We are currently on track for warming that will likely exceed the 1.5-degree guardrail, and that will not be safe. We are already seeing signs of what may be in store – more frequent and intense extreme weather events, accelerating loss of sea ice, disappearance of glaciers, loss of biodiversity and more. How has this happened?
There is an understanding that we have collectively failed to manage the risks associated with economic efficiency and an economic growth imperative that does not prioritise climate safety. Therefore, we need proportionate and appropriate action, and we need it now. A fundamental shift in how we approach our dilemma is needed. Only recently, Baroness Brown warned “We have the ingredients to do good things in response to climate change but are not making use of them.”
What is preventing us from taking action? In part, it is lack of information. But much of our daily discourse betrays binary (good/bad, black/white etc) or ternary (good cop/bad cop) thinking. We need unary thinking – we are all in this together. We cannot be part of the solution unless and until we become aware that we are a part of the problem.
If the economists are designing the economy to be efficient, but not safe, and given that the systemic risk may not be fully understood, how can we develop an expanded model that takes into account an emergent complexity? How can we balance climate safety with economic efficiency?
This series of open forums organised by Energy Connectors, “Investing In A Net Zero Carbon Future”, allows a public platform for energy companies, investors, academics, politicians and think tanks to discuss the issues and edge closer to a collaborative narrative and “collective human action” in exploring the solutions to the problem together. The next event will be held at The Spielman Theatre, Tobacco Factory, Bristol on Friday 15th November. Tickets and full details here.