How to Pull Back from Environmental Catastrophe — A Corporate & Citizen’s Manifesto

Politicians have left a void of leadership on climate action in the West. But companies and individuals can step in.

Mark Zuckerburg on street art post “you’ve been zucked’
Mark Zuckerburg on street art post “you’ve been zucked’

Some people don’t believe in climate change. That much is true. Why?

An ABC radio listener recently called in to ask scientist, Doctor Karl Kruszelnicki, what they should do about parents who refused to believe in climate change.

Dr. Karl put it nicely. “It’s because they have been lied to for such a long time.”

His advice was to be gentle and to point out basic facts so they can be informed if and when they choose to see the light of reason. He made the analogy with lung cancer and cigarette smoking. After decades of lies, we now know that half of all smokers die from smoking.

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It might be okay for one’s politically disengaged parents not to understand or believe the evidence. But it isn’t okay for governments, companies, and business leaders to be climate change ignorers or deniers. Not anymore.

When 11,000 scientists from many different countries feel a “duty of care” to warn that lack of action will result in “a high likelihood of untold suffering”, everyone needs to pay attention. Their dire warning action was not a ‘symbolic gesture’. It was an urgent call to action.

Climate Change is Not Political

The excuse that the evidence isn’t there doesn’t stand up to reason. It can’t. If people still deny that climate change is a threat to human fate, it’s not for scientific reasons. It is most probably for political reasons.

When a political party you have supported for a long time is lying to you about something very obviously wrong, it creates a psychological state of cognitive dissonance. This is the discomfort one feels when they try to hold two contradictory beliefs.

Here is what they need to understand. Once and for all:

Climate change is not political.

Climate change denial is not an alternative view. It’s not a political view either. It’s simply a denial of the truth in the face of the evidence.

Climate change denial, and taking no action, is an existential threat to human civilization. Politicians will not ‘work it out’ and save us. We have seen it over and over again. Politicians are not looking after us. We have to look after ourselves.

A Corporate Step Forward — Ending Disinformation

My personal view is that Google and Facebook now have enough evidence to consider lies and propaganda about climate change to be “hate speech.“ It is, at its purest and simplest, akin to hatred of humanity.

Google sign on building roof
Google sign on building roof

Google and Facebook need to start blocking and clearing this dangerous propaganda from their platforms.

We have passed the point where these platforms should be allowed to promulgate disinformation. The stakes are now too high.

I am not the only one who thinks enough is enough. The Guardian has reported Sacha Baron Cohen just blasted Facebook as “the greatest propaganda machine in history.” If you think that’s an overstatement, consider this: the Facebook user base is larger than Christianity.

Lies Spread Faster Than The Truth

Many incumbent politicians have used blatant lies about climate change and how they have reduced emissions. What they have done is use sophistry and creative accounting to blanket the truth — that they have made emissions much worse.

Falsehoods and ‘alternative facts’, are poisonous weeds that must be eradicated. The weeds are choking the sunlight of reason and truth.

“The intelligent are doomed to be tyrannised by the stupid.”

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People can’t necessarily think clearly when they are barraged with lies, especially if they don’t have critical thinking skills. We have seen it with elections in the United States, the UK’s Brexit vote, and Australia’s last ‘climate’ election. People don’t vote for the best policies. They vote for the policies they remember.

Falsehoods or lies around climate change — from individuals or politicians — that are flagged by any user and investigated to be false, should be considered ‘hate speech’ and removed. Multiple violations should see that that user account terminated. It’s time for the editor’s sword to fall.

As companies, we can do a lot as well. Some of the most vocal support for climate action has come from the coal industry. Even they are asking for politicians to wake up to the threat. We may not have their power of influence or persuasion, but we do have plenty of other leverage. If we all get our ducks in order, we can create a domino effect.

Clean up our Supply Chains

Boxes in a warehouse
Boxes in a warehouse

From postal services and IT server racks to product manufacture, there are many touchpoints along our supply chain to our end consumer.

If we get serious about our responsibility to the environment, we can clean up our supply chain to cut out polluters, slavery, and dodgy third parties. Take the opportunity to tell them why we’re going. We might even save a dollar and find other efficiencies.

Energy Actions As Individuals

At the risk of repeating things we hear everywhere, there are a couple of clear things private citizens can do — and should do — if it’s in their capacity.

Get solar panels if you don’t already have them. Electricity makes up 28% of US greenhouse gas emissions.

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Get a rainwater tank, if you can.

If you’re in an apartment, a balcony garden or plenty of greenery will reduce temperatures and can supply you with herbs, tomatoes, and fruit.

In many areas, new buildings are now required to have either solar panels or rooftop gardens. France has demanded this for four years. San Francisco has been doing it since 2016. If it is not mandated in your area, put in a guerilla roof garden or heave some pot plants out there. (Better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission, I say.)

Plants and Land Management

If you own property, start planting. Native trees and shrubs are best and will help your area’s biodiversity.

Two Aboriginal men burning area of grasses.
Two Aboriginal men burning area of grasses.

The Earth’s first people were found in Australia — Aboriginal people. Contrary to the stereotype that Aboriginal people were primitive and barbaric nomads, the evidence paints a very different picture.

Sturt Desert Pea
Sturt Desert Pea

Living in towns and villages, Aboriginal people had highly effective land management and bush fire prevention techniques; were expert engineers at sustainable fishing; and had delicious and plentiful crop production.

Furthermore, the vast interior of the continent, which is usually decried as uninhabitable, was, in fact, a productive and viable area with abundant food sources for tens of thousands of years.

Reconciliation is not about assuaging white guilt for past injustice. It would give the current multicultural population a playbook for the way forward.

The Old Ways and the New Ways

In the post-capitalist economy, we need to return to the old ways. Australians, in particular, need to get acquainted for the first time on sustainable and harmonious systems that worked for 60,000 years or longer. Studies are underway currently to test native agricultural farming of native flours, grasses, rice, fruits, and highly nutritious vegetables.

Alongside Crispr technology, ag-tech and precision farming, aquaponics, and hydroponics, this is another way to help develop food security.

An End to Unsustainable Industries

cows in paddock
cows in paddock

Agriculture is another 18% of emissions. And it’s cruel. It is also responsible for helping to kill our planet through water loss and biodiversity impacts, as well as the poor distribution of food across the world’s global population. So the solution is simple.

Become vegan. Or at the very least, cut your milk and meat intake.

Some people say it’s too hard to survive without animal products. Although I have been vegetarian since 1990, I must admit that a few years ago I found it difficult to embark on a vegan diet. I had to do it for health reasons. Now, seven years later, it’s easy. There is so much vegan food available now.

Go for it, my friend, it’s not that hard. Our planet needs your best self. You’ll be healthier too and significantly cut your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. If you have multiple sclerosis, you may well say goodbye to the symptoms of that horrid disease. I did.

platter of vegetables and chickpeas with flatbread
platter of vegetables and chickpeas with flatbread

Wrapping Up

Climate change is a tremendous worry. It is a crisis. It seems that so many of our politicians and government are doing everything wrong. But it’s not all countries that are in denial. China is investing billions of dollars into renewables. It has set out a clear Made in China 2025 strategy that addresses automated vehicles, electric vehicles, robotics, AI, and other important sectors. It puts many western countries to shame.

Don’t let frustration at political impotence overwhelm you. My prescription to feel better is to take some action, whatever is within your capacity.

By all means get solar energy, or wave, waterwheel, or wind. Go vegan if you can. Get more trees and plants in your life. Lobby hard. Or softly. Be outspoken. Or quietly spoken.

Pressure the big corporate interests, they’re run by people too.

Together we can do this. We might just have to set the example.

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Writes about strategy, storytelling, messaging, and communication…Prone to bouts of fiction.

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