This week we have invited Ina-Maria Shikongo to talk at the Zoom lunch. Nicholas Eliades will be moderating:
”Undisturbed Under Paradise”
What happens in the Kavango Delta won’t stay in Kavango. As the WG III of IPCC just released and stated clearer than ever we must hurry up to phase out all fossil fuel, the Canadian oil-and gas company ReconAfrica will exploit the fragile and magic land of the Kavango Delta. Listen to Ina- Marias struggle to stop this new Ecocide.
“The science-society contract is broken.” is the opening of the latest article by Bruce C. Glavovic, Timothy F. Smith and Iain White and it invited us at researchers desk this week to pause and think together with the authors: What kind of scientific activity is meaningful to enable human society to learn, adapt and transform human activities as the climate crisis becomes recognizable today, and when looking at the full picture – Earth? It is indeed a fully-fledged, global tragedy we are talking about: Against better knowledge (IPCC reporting), humanity is driving the crisis, meaning that the most powerful actions you could expect (e.g. covid recovery funds) are accelerating on the same old path (bouncing back) rather than turning around (rebuild and regenerate human relations to our shared environment).
So, if the above-mentioned contract works as a metaphor for the science-society interface, this means that researchers are paid by tax money to think freely and develop the best possible science around the questions they are appointed for by the governments in the world. In return, researchers could expect that this knowledge is acted upon. What if, as with climate science, this exploding knowledge on our climate system and scientific support for the society is ending “in the void” for decades?
Where and how can we re-politicize science and address not only the failure to act and explanations for why this happen but also demonstrate where the seeds are for an alternative course of action? What kind of moratorium would invite sufficiently powerful groups to rethink and engage with the discourse and transition towards a sustainable pathway?
This is an invitation for everyone to engage with us, with each other, and question the share of responsibilities we all have to learn and transform our lifestyles. This is about renegotiating the contracts we are embedded in with policy, business and culture. Today we leave this discussion (recording is online) with a few threads for the inspired ones:
While more science does not lead necessarily to more action – there are still several scientific avenues which are promising to focus on leverage points for change:
The IPCC report on mitigation is based on conventional assumptions and models like social welfare being dependent on a eternally growing market – which are proven to reinforce inequality rather than sustainable well-being. Mitigation based on post-growth economy is possible and rather a question of will and power redistribution (see article by Hickel et al. 2021).
The need and opportunities for an incremental but radically different development of how we institutionalize values, which are underlying to all our societal functions, become apparent in the book by Maja Göpel “The great mindshift”.
No single person is deliberately destroying our planet’s climate – but humans are bound to act on much smaller spatial and temporal scales than the technology is providing access to few people (through cars, planes, cement, plastics). When seeing Earth as a system where human health is dependent on a healthy environment, we begin to grasp that there is no deliberate, collective, and global governance which is taking care of this human-environmental relationship at the core. Another way looking at this big picture is like watching a flock of starlings who group in amazingly beautiful formations – with no single bird driving it. While there is no single entity able to drive humanities course of action, at the same time everyone has influence to shape actions. This is called self organization in a complex adaptive system. In the discussion about the climate crisis is now the tragedy emerging or flooding over us – how do we collaborate under this ‘flood’, embrace a more humble, systemic view and ’walk the talk’ of sustainable and globally equitable lifestyle?
In conclusion for today: We agree to disagree where we see the next steps. Some of us doubt that there is this one attainable vision but there are tangible tools for sustainability we know how they work. Others see the vision of sustainability future more clearly, just barriers and opportunities on the way. Let’s go, at least the direction is clear (not the highway …).
Debunking myths around Net-zero and climate offsets
Conversations in connection with an Researches Desk lecture sparked collective writing by 23 RD affiliated experts and scientists of one of the most impactful op-eds debunking the myths of net-zero targets and offsets. The article was first published in Sweden at DN Debatt (4 Dec 20020) and then internationally through a translated version at Climate Home News (11 Dec 2020) with further endorsements by an additional 18 international scientists. The article was spread widely and for a long time the most read feature at Climate Home News. It has clearly helped shape the discourse around this important topic. Similar views were for example recently voiced by a former IPCC chair in a widely acclaimed article in The Conversation.
Countering the Scopex solar geoengineering project set for Kiruna, Northern Sweden
After unexpected announcement of geo-engineering research plans for Sweden by a Harvard research group in December 2020, Researchers Desk provided a “Hot potato session” for its members to get informed by international and Swedish scientists about this controversial issue. This lay the ground for synchronised actions and numerous media appearances by Swedish and international scientists (see for example SvD, Aktuellt, and Klotet) and also direct engagement with the Swedish Space Corporation. Members of Researchers Desk also played key roles in interactions with and mobilisation of civil society as well as the Saami indiengeous people. After combined, concerted pressure by these different stakeholder groups, the Swedish Space Corporation announced on 31 March 2021 that it would cancel the flight.
Once relegated to the fringe of the climate debate, ideas to use solar geoengineering to mask rising temperatures are receiving increasing attention from some scientists, governments, and the media. Catchy headlines about silver bullet fixes often downplay the real and profound risks that such technologies pose — including potentially devastating harm to ecosystems, increased droughts and extreme weather events, and the disruption of food production for millions of people around the world. These impacts would affect all of us, but would fall most heavily on Indigenous peoples and communities in the Global South. The illusion of a technological quick fix could also delay real climate solutions, putting both present and future generations at risk.
On June 9th, leading scientists, Indigenous leaders, youth and climate activists discuss the growing risks and unequal impacts of solar geoengineering and explore how climate action is possible without dangerous technological fixes.
Speakers include: Michael Mann, Raymond Pierrehumbert, and Jennie Stephens. Along with leading voices from movements, Indigenous peoples and the Global South: Tom Goldtooth, Naomi Klein, Åsa Larsson Blind, Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva, and Greta Thunberg.
The event is organized by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), The ETC Group, Heinrich Böll Foundation, Indigenous Environmental Network, Saami Council, WhatNext?, in collaboration with the Hands Off Mother Earth! (HOME) Campaign, the Swedish Stop Scopex Network, and Researchers Desk. The event will be hosted via Facebook Live. To connect your organization’s page to the livestream, please contact Cate Bonacini at the Center for International Environmental Law or Laura Dunn at The ETC Group.