Excerpt from an old article by Craig Morris slightly paraphrased:
To deal with climate change we are suggesting that we redesign our world and our social life. That’s exciting, but it’s also not the way we talk about it.
We could, for example, ask people some questions: how would you like to improve your community? What are the important things in life that should not be lost and should made easier? What do you value? These might help to get people involved, rather than resistant.
Instead, the discussion often reduced to lowering energy emissions, and roughly breaks down into three types of propositions, largely about technology (which most people don’t really understand):
1) We need to convert from fossil fuels to renewables quickly, as they can help us live within planetary boundaries at a high enough living standard;
2) Renewable energy alone will not suffice, and;
3) If we fail to do anything, our civilization is on a path to destruction.
None of this asks people what they want to work towards, apart from technology. And they cannot make the technology themselves, so this framing of the issues implies people are at the mercy of others.
The transition may not only need to reduce carbon emissions, but also strengthen communities and overcome the isolation that people increasingly suffer from. It needs to make life better, not more of what we have now…. If people do need renewables, and that seems likely, how are they going to organize this? How will they gain power over energy?
Getting people to agree on action and work together is not always easy, but it may need to begin, now to get action on other things progressing.
The need to bring people together is one reason to be skeptical of nuclear power. Up to now, the technology has required too much secrecy, thereby undermining good governance and democracy…. Communities and citizens have never made their own nuclear power.
However, this working together is not being encouraged and the wording of the Paris agreement itself shows how marginalized the focus on social benefits still is – perhaps because it suggests a “crisis of democracy” in which people want to rule their own lives with others, rather than obey the elites or retreat from demanding service from the State.
Coal and oil are bound into social formations, they are stuck in ‘Carbon Oligarchies’, where peoples’ lives are being risked to support established sources of profit. It is possible that renewables are not yet stuck in the same way, but open to being shaped by community involvement and democratic process. If so, we should encourage it.