The zero emissions communities of Gandhi, Fidel, Thatcher and Chomsky

This morning I had pancakes with a few friends and as we sat there eating I thought about how different we all are on fundamental levels: values, ideas, experiences, ambitions and priorities. We most likely fall in different quadrants of this political compass:


The challenge my generation faces: getting the contemporary versions of Gandhi, Mrs. Thatcher, Fidel and my favourite, Noam Chomsky, to cooperate and work towards the collective goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees celsius. But no pressure.

“Successfully transitioning to a low-carbon economy will require unprecedented global cooperation” states the 2014 report Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation. Well, that sounds daunting and overwhelming. How will my generation come through with that feat? To mobilise people towards the same goal in a way that has never been documented in history. I don’t plan to have lots of children, I advocate carpooling and I’m not a big meat eater, but to mobilise 8 billion people towards limiting global warming to 2°C… there’s no way, right? Let’s look at what we learned in week 7 of the MOOC.

Firstly, we learned about two important facts: a) we have to act right now to adapt to the future climate since we’ve already released enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to change the planet as we know it today and b) we not only need to drastically reduce further CO2 emissions, but mitigate global warming through CO2 removal strategies. The pivotal moment this week, however, was acknowledging that limiting global warming is a multidimensional problem with a difficult but essential aspect: humans! You and I, full of different opinions, lovers of freedom, self-determination and autonomy. Procedural justice (honesty and transparency) and place attachment (sense of identity) were two elements that research indicates will push towards the ‘think global, act local’ attitude that will help us deal with climate change through community-based energy.

I’ll amuse myself by picturing Mahatma Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Fidel Castro and Noam Chomsky as leaders of their own distinct communities but each one of them powered by renewable energy sources and zero CO2 emissions. Gandhi most probably would applaud this idea of energy self-sufficient communities as he campaigned economically self-sufficient communities in India. Margaret Thatcher would be motivated too since she opened the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. What about Noam Chomsky? He would probably not only lead a zero emissions community but the members of his group would understand how and why they work together. Finally, Fidel knows well climate change really doesn’t care about political affiliations and has been vocal for years on supporting emission reduction efforts by the U.S.

In all seriousness, are communities the answer to get individuals to separately work towards the same goal regardless of where they lie in the political compass? Are communities key for climate change adaptation and mitigation?

The category Cool Initiatives is a space where I like to briefly summarise and highlight projects and programmes in agriculture that work towards increasing food security and that I find cool. It’s important to say, cool for me means many things. From implementation of important theories, such as participative action research, to the use of novel tools to support old traditions, cool can mean different things but in each post I make sure I highlight why is the theme in question: “cool”.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, working to limit global warming to 2ºC is not an easy feat. It requires we work hard for the rest of our lives. In this post I want to go through a few of my personal lifestyle habits to figure out if the things I enjoy contribute to climate change and explore what can I realistically do about it.

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