Butterfly Effect

The planet is burning and drowning, and it’s reached the shores, doorsteps and livelihoods of the privileged north. We are in a time when six of nine planetary boundaries have been breached, and most of the control variables for the boundaries are moving away from the safe operating space. Climate Change is the most serious boundary because of its impacts across the whole Earth system and humanity. The intensity and scale of the extreme heat in America and floods in Europe have shocked climate scientists, who did not expect records to be broken this much, over such a wide area or this soon. Tipping points are being reached. For example, the Amazon rainforest now emits more CO2 than it absorbs.

COP26, hosted by the UK in November 2021, aims to continue holding nations to account to their Paris Agreement promises, but most nations’ plans are inadequate to stabilise the temperature increase between 1.5C and 2C. 2C has been wrongly seen by some as an upper safe limit and it now appears that 1.5C is not safe either. The Paris Agreement was based on the IPCC 5th Assessment which had been watered down due to pressure from high emitting nations. The actions from the Agreement are in no way adequate to mitigate or adapt to the emerging climate catastrophe in ways that will bring justice for the most affected people. The latest evidence suggests that the Paris targets will be insufficient to prevent a Hothouse Earth pathway. The leaked 2022 IPCC 6th Assessment predicts a ferocious century of climate impacts, particularly in poor countries.

In this context, I’m thinking about how we, and I, can have a big ‘butterfly effect’, and how I can transform from the phase of waiting and incubating to really spreading wings and having more leverage.

I’m planning to give more time to Climate Museum UK, for example running more local Creative Climate Conversations, fundraising for national projects and carrying out research into how to engage people with climate and ecology, and supporting the museums sector to enable a regenerative shift.

I’ll also spend more time supporting the wider movement such as Culture Declares Emergency.

I’ve shared a list of things that others might do to have that Butterfly Effect. It’s not comprehensive, and I’ve asked on social media for people to share other actions and particular projects they want me to amplify.

1) Give what you can to emergency aid and climate justice, legal work to end ecocide and support land protectors, regenerative land projects and local economy transitions. Also, divest whatever savings and investments you have from unethical funds.

2 ) Face the reality in order to learn and teach about the complex causes of the climate and ecological emergency, its impacts on diverse life and people, and the possible actions you can take.

3) Advocate for the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill or similar in your country

4) Support Green parties and left-Green political alliances, and persistently request political representatives to get serious & take more radical action.

5) Radically transform your business or organisation using whatever agency you have, such as unions, boards or product innovation, taking action after declaring emergency.

6) All the things to be planet-kind but without blaming & shaming others or yourself. Eat more plants, use no fossil fuels, buy less stuff especially fast fashion.

7) Work with family, friends and neighbours to transition towards a biophilic, post-carbon, locally resilient place. Apply your imagination to show visions of and build a better world.

8) Demonstrate, protest, resist, rebel — put your body & voice where it’s needed to stop harm.

9) Support yourself through a personal shift for communal benefit: hear the call and help where you’re strongest and most able to effect systemic change. Take all steps to ensure you maintain health and strength.

If you feel moved to support me in my work as an unsalaried Regenerative Culture leader, you can make a donation here.

Tree ring version of the Warming Stripes

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