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Chapter 6. Proposals

How to get People to Change?

The climate is changing, but how to get people to actually change? Chip and Dan Heath offer a highly simplified framework based on recent research. And some of their findings are surprising. Surprisingly counterintuitive but also surprisingly simple. We will try to use this frame in the context of climate change, knowing how most people psychologically react to it.

switch-framework-LR

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Rifkin (2009). The Empathic Civilization.

Rifkin, Jeremy (2009). The Empathic Civilization. New York: Tarcher/Penguin.

“Empathic extension is the only human expression that creates true equality between people.” p. 160.

Will empathic extension grow fast enough for humanity to save the planet – and thereby our species?

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Will world population explode?

“There are just too many children in the world. People in developing countries get too many babies. World food production will not be able to keep up, and there will be no space for all those people.”

True? No. The number of babies per woman has been overwhelmingly decreased towards two. Two babies per woman clearly means population will grow no further.

So now we are with seven billion, and growing, because there are relatively many young people. But in 2050 the world population will stabilize at about ten billion.

Human population is large but not growing out of hand, at all, anymore.

Hans Rosling, Swedish doctor and statistician, gives a face to the data in a TED talk of April 2012.

How to deal with dictatorship?

Vision 1. We are born into a safe and secure social environment…
Vision 10. Government and parliament are democratically elected…

So what if you live under dictatorship? You start a non-violent revolution.

Gene Sharp has already inspired generations of revolutionaries worldwide. His book, From Dictatorship to Democracy[1], is a guide with over 180 means of non-violent resistance. The book can be read free online or downloaded as pdf.

  1. [1]Gene Sharp (1993)

Educating Values for Life

Vision 4: Education is generally accessible and reaches high levels. Teachers are well paid. Classes are not too big, and personal and social development go side by side.

How to educate ourselves and our children for living in times of turbulence? How to educate starting from the ideas of what a human being is actually is? Education shouldn’t just transfer knowledge, it should educate values.

Proposals for Crisis Catalysed Change

Proposals for how to deal with converging crises will be based on both the image of humanity and the ten visions set out in our Universal Declaration of Human Direction. We will focus on catharses; new narratives with the power to clean the soul and replace old ways of doing, thinking, because austerity is virtuous but human beings are much better at doing more in stead of less.

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Ending the Energy Crisis

Vision 5: Natural resources are available for us and future generations. Resource taxes are raised so prices will reflect the real costs of products and the depletion of ecosystems is prevented. Finite energy sources will also be taxed so abundant renewable energy will become universally available.

The energy crisis can probably be solved, actually quite easily. There are solutions for how to deal with the two main problems: finding physical sources for acquiring the energy for an increasing global population, and creating political momentum in an arena dominated by powerful oil company lobbies.

So what to do? Use less energy or find different sources? Probably both, but with food production being dependent on energy in numerous ways finding new sources is a necessity.

Jeremy Rifkin has been pointing out solutions to government leaders ranging from the White House to a number of European, African and Asian countries. His solutions seem very possible and smart. His unique approach lies in joining practical, physical solutions with sound political strategies into a grand narrative of what he calls a Third Industrial Revolution.

Renewable energy is becoming cheap enough, and distributed production is making it accessible. That’s his main argument. Just as the internet made information cheap and abundant, an intelligent energy distribution network can disclose renewable energy sources.

Rifkin’s narrative is this: both historical Industrial Revolutions happened because new energy technology converged with new communication technologies.[1] The next Industrial Revolution is similar: the new technologies of solar, wind, water, geoheat and biomass are converging with the development of intelligent means of distribution in the form of internet-like smart grids.

This transition is supported by five pillars, Rifkin argues: renewable energy, buildings as small power plants, hydrogen and other storing technologies, smart distribution grids and plug-in and fuel cell transport. These pillars are intimately related and reinforce each other in a synergetic way. “When these five pillars come together, they make up an indivisible technological platform – an emergent system whose properties and functions are qualitatively different from the sum of its parts”.[2]

How does Rifkin overcome the power of the strong oil companies’ lobby? By proposing buildings as power plants. The construction industry is a strong economic factor that might be “a counterweight to the big energy companies”.[3]

In Europe, his ideas have a strong following. A declaration was signed by the EU endorsing the implementation of Jeremy’s ideas.

The idea of this Third Industrial Revolution seems quite solid. And there is a strong argument in favor of trying: the stakes are unimaginably high. When such a transition from carbon into renewable energy isn’t made, CO2 induced climate change might lead to mass extinction strongly decreasing the chances of survival for us and generations to come.

  1. [1]These were steam power with the printing press in the first, and electrical communication with oil powered engines in the second industrial revolution. See Rifkin 2011: 35.
  2. [2]Rifkin 2011: 71
  3. [3]Rifkin 2011: 44