Our challenge is immense. The COP15 might fail to deliver anything at all, and if it delivers, it might not be anything near to what is actually needed. It will take more than the normal NGOs and politicians to solve this. We do have Obama. And we imght just have the right civil movements to take on this mission impossible. This week I met with two representants of 350.org in Sweden - and I left the meeting deelpy impressed, and a little more relaxed about our common future.
(Picture taken from 350.org homepage)
The 350.org movement, or maybe rather campaign, was started by American students with one simple aim: To make world leaders signing an binding agreement on climate change, where they pledge to bring the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere below 350 ppm. This level is not a political compromise, like the acceptance of 2 degrees/450 ppm, but what among others Nasa's James Hansen name a safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is 387 ppm.
I belive that this is right, as I presume most of you readers do. But there are so many people that are right out there. What impressed me about 350.org is the brilliant strategic thinking on how to get it done.
Take the issue of greenwashing. As the "climate sceptics" note with fear - any politician who wishes to be re-elected today worries about the climate. Or at least says so. But it is very easy to say that you support action on climate change, and promise to do your best. But a politician who claims to support 350.org will have a hard time to explain his action if he does not defend the goal of lowering CO2 levels to 350 ppm.
With such a focus the future is clear. At the moment there is no future for 350.org after Copenhagen. In Sweden the organisation works har on informing citizens about the COP15, and trying to get so many as possible to come to Copenhagen, after all it is both important and near.
For sure there will be a world also after Copenhagen, but this world will need other campaigns. 350.org is made up of many different kinds of activists, researchers etc. who all bring their own background to the movement. Everyone is welcome by definition, as each new activist shapes the network differently. It is open, voluntary, building momentum, and ready to give place for the next wave when its time is over.
Isn't this is the post-modern world as it is supposed do be? The world described in texts like the Cluetrain manifesto? Politics still seem very stuck in the structures created in 19th century. Business are still hierarchical, and they safeguard information as if it was property. They still try to cheat, as if that was an option in the twitterized information society.
The Cluetrain Manifesto predicted that the Internet would change all that, that companies would become open, flat-structured and friendly. That might not have happened to big business, but it I think it has happened to the sphere of voluntary action. In Bulgaria the flourishing environmentalist movement have ties to the not-so-geeky-any-more open source computing movement. This should not surprise anyone, because both these movements share the vision of information as something you earn by hard work and dedication, not buy for money. Both movements see the strenght in constant change and openness. Both movements prefer resilience over organisational stability. That might not be the way to run a country - but I think it is the best way to change the world.
This blogpost was also posted on Th!nk about it, and is my way to participate in the Blog Action Day 2009.