New Climate Tactics – You gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger

It appears that those who have advocated for Climate Change action are getting sick of reasoned debate. The new approach reminds me of the song, “You Gotta Be,”  by Des’ree. (Lyrics below). They have realised that to get anywhere, they gotta be bolder, they gotta be tougher, they gotta be wiser.

The toughening up is easy to understand. For 20-30 years folk have tried to patiently explain the science, the impacts, the irreversibility. They have used simple graphics, cool video clips, and images of ‘charismatic mega fauna.’ They have tried ‘dumbing down’ the message, or the opposite, attempting to increase ‘climate literacy.’ In their own time, some scientists quietly spend their evenings and weekends visiting various community groups talking one-on-one with people. All of this helps, a little bit.

However, as the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report starkly confirmed earlier this year; it hasn’t helped enough. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are accelerating, – I say again – not just growing, accelerating.  April 2014 is now on record as the first time in which the concentration of GHG in the atmosphere has stayed above 400 parts per million for an entire month.

As Bill McKibben succinctly wrote about in Rolling Stone magazine, the basic maths is very grim.  The best science reckons humans can pour 565 more gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 2050 – to keep the planet at a ‘safe’ temperature rise of 2 degrees. The problem is that there is 2,795 gigatonnes of carbon sitting in the ground that energy companies are ready to burn. The current rate of burning suggests that the 565 quota will be used up within 16 years. (By 2030).

So there is a sadness and a sense of acknowledgement that current approaches: seeking international agreements; the establishment of global carbon markets, patiently explaining the maths and science in terms of risk and long-term GDP losses to the public, Governments or global institutions; aren’t really working.

Hence – enter new tactics.

The approach now is a bit more gloves off, and directed towards one of the most significant stumbling blocks: those who make a profit from carbon and hence undermine meaningful action.

(1)  Battle over the Message. This is a hotly contested space, with many dimensions. A key approach, however, is to unveil the tactics of those who unfairly discredit the science. This involves pin-pointing dishonesty, plus revealing who is funding such activities. This has been done before, for example, see Clive Hamilton’s 2007 book, Scorcher. Yet with increased attention to this issue since then, particularly the publication of Naomi Oreskes’s book: “Merchants of Doubt”, momentum seems to have been gained: the idea that false science is peddled by those with vested interests has almost entered the mainstream public discussion. Meanwhile, the film  Greedy Lying Bastards is only just being launched into the world.

(2)  Battle over the Money. The ‘Divest’ movement pressures institutions, banks, superannuation funds etc, to disclose if they invest in fossil fuel companies, and if they do, to withdraw funds. Globally, the approach is gaining ground as the tactic of choice for many ENGO. It is scary when major institutions have their skirts whisked away for everyone to see their knickers. Two local Australian examples make the point. In 2013, students submitted a ‘Freedom Of Information’ request to discover – and then widely report – that the Australian National University had $80 million invested in fossil fuels. Embarrassing for an institution that prides itself on its leading climate science/policy and renewable energy research.  The Big Four Australian banks have been targeted in general; plus specific banks may have campaigns targeted towards them directly, as this You-Tube clip on ANZ shows.

HSBC

Overall, the fight is now being taken to an alternate battle ground; not the voters; not the Government; not the media; but to those who make a profit from fossil fuels. It’s a battle about values, priorities and power, and it a fight being waged well outside the Nation-State construct.

If National and global institutions do not find a way to address climate change, we can only expect this fight to intensify.

*********************************************************

Des’ree  – Lyrics to the Song: “You Gotta Be”     

Listen as your day unfolds  
Challenge what the future holds  
Try and keep your head up to the sky  
Lovers, they may cause you tears  
Go ahead release your fears  
Stand up and be counted  
Don’t be ashamed to cry  
You gotta be  
You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold  
You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard  
You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger  
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm  
You gotta stay together  
All I know, all I know, love will save the day  
Herald what your mother said  
Readin’ the books your father read  
Try to solve the puzzles in your own sweet time  
Some may have more cash than you  
Others take a different view  
My oh my heh, hey  
You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold  
You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard  
You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger  
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm  
You gotta stay together  
All I know, all I know, love will save the day  
Don’t ask no questions, it goes on without you  
Leaving you behind if you can’t stand the pace  
The world keeps on spinning  
You can’t stop it, if you try to  
This time it’s danger staring you in the face  
Oh oh oh Remember  
Listen as your day unfolds  
Challenge what the future holds  
Try and keep your head up to the sky  
Lovers, they may cause you tears  
Go ahead release your fears  
My oh my heh, hey, hey  
You gotta be  
You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold  
You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard  
You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger  
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm  
You gotta stay together  
All I know, all I know, love will save the day  
You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold  
You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard  
You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger  
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm  
You gotta stay together  
All I know, all I know, love will save the day  

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