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The climate crisis is about time

While bike riding on ice proved again a bad idea, I used my recovery time from the resulting crash to read The Climate Book. This great tome of nearly 500 pages, initiated by Greta Thunberg, is a collection of 100 essays about the status of climate change. It is packed with information about all its technical, economic and societal aspects. As a conclusion, her team formulates 6 general directions of what we should do:

  1. Start treating the crisis like a crisis: do not waste precious time.

  2. Face the emergency: it is no longer about what we want to do, it is about what we have to do.

  3. Admit failure, understand that our current capital and energy system is not working sustainably, learn from the mistakes and make the necessary bold adjustments

  4. Include all emission data, including imports, maritime and air traffic, etc. Let the facts speak.

  5. Connect the dots. There are many aspects and themes at play here, that are collectively eroding the ability of our ecosystem to absorb carbon and dampen the impact . These ecosystems are rapidly deteriorating due to overexploitation, industrial farming, soil degradation etc. we need also to zoom out and look at holistic picture

  6. Choose justice and historic reparations: the climate and ecological crisis is a crisis of inequality and social injustice. It is a moral issue which involves 8 billion people.

The book triggered me to think about Darel’s mission and actions. Are we doing enough? What impact are we actually making? Is delivering ‘pathfinder’ industrial projects the best way forward? Are we maybe fighting a rearguard battle? Should we more visible in de public debate?

My biggest takeaways are a familiar one and a new one. Firstly the need for speed, slow winning is the same as losing. The climate clock is relentlessly ticking. Within Darel we are aware of this, but are we sufficiently strong advocates of this ?. The 2nd key message is that: good media are essential. We need quality media to tell the real story, that helps to fight our tendency for falling back to convenience and doubt, and that helps us to keep us focus and commitment towards the necessary actions today and tomorrow. Unfortunately this is not DAREL’s main strength , we are no media experts, so we will be seeking strong partners for this.

Greta makes the following powerful observation in her book :

“Take COVID or Ukrainian invasion, we know what it means to treat a major risk like a crisis and we also know, way beyond any doubt, that the climate crisis has never been once in any way be treated as such. This is the heart of the problem, and it’s not the fault of the oil companies. It’s not the fault of the

logging industry, the airlines, the car manufacturers. They are very much guilty as well but their purpose is to make money not to inform citizens about the state of the biosphere or to safeguard democracy. Our inability to stop climate and ecological crisis is a result of ongoing failure in the media and our politics. The crisis of information not getting through, because that information has not been told, packaged or delivered as it should be. During the week of COP26 in Glasgow, the environmental media coverage was at the peak but it still struggled to compete with the airtime dedicated to Britney Spears as she regained control over her life. We are only reporting on symptoms of the much larger problem, but there is no reporting on the actual climate crisis.

To communicate the crisis, you first of all need to convey the fact that the clock is ticking. The climate crisis is about time. If you leave out the aspect of time than it is just one topic among other topics . If you take away the countdown then the collapsing gletcher, a forest fire or record heatwave is nothing more than 3 independent news events, a series of isolated natural disasters. If you fail to include the aspect of time, the climate crisis is not a crisis. Then it’s just another story that can be dealt with down the road in 2030 or 2050, who really cares? Remove the countdown and you lose sight of all the most important details, for example that it might not really matter if we develop technological solutions in decades to come or if we fail to take the necessary action here and now. And that we do not primarily need climate targets for 2030 or 2050. We need them for now, for 2022 and for every month and year that follows.”

She has elegantly re-energided our Darel mission , while also reiterating that the Darel symbol as the clicking climate clock, is so very appropriately chosen. It is highly discomforting to sit next to a clicking countdown clock, but it is that exact the sensation that we need to instill in every person in power to ensure that this is channelled towards collectively taking the right actions.

Written by Guus Kessler

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