It may seem like everything has changed, but nothing has changed. Donald Trump has just been elected President of the United States of America. However, the main point of this article remains the same. It is only the introduction which has changed.
Before November 8, 2016, this article was supposed to first discuss the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which is the equivalent of fool’s gold. The Agreement binds all nations of our water planet to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions as a step in preventing dangerous global climate change.
The problem is that even the best case scenario of emissions reductions has a scientific “emissions gap” of CO2 reductions. Unless the world reduces CO2 emissions by an additional 15 gigatons in the next 15 years, the Paris Agreement will not stop global climate change.
For comparison’s sake, 15 gigatons of CO2 is about three times the total annual emissions of the USA. Can you close your eyes and imagine the people of the United States stopping 100% of their carbon emissions in the next fifteen years, and then “creating” another 200% of additional emission reductions elsewhere on our planet?
Now that Donald Trump will be President, there won’t be blind optimism for the Paris Agreement. That’s actually a good thing, because the real solution to climate change needs to come from a different place. It needs to come from each of us. It’s time we each start the real work, which begins in the space right behind your eyes. The USA and Canada have the highest per capita emissions by a wide margin, so if we can do it then it can happen globally too.
It’s time to explain the vision of how we actually solve climate change. It starts with a new story of how we relate to the natural world that sustains us. A story that is based on the natural wisdom of indigenous cultures, such as that of ancient Hawaii. We must blend this story into the modern narrative that has shaped western culture, and find the “win-win” solutions that improve our daily lives while sustaining and regenerating the natural world. This is actually easier than it sounds.
“It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble now because we don’t have a good story. The old story; the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it, is no longer effective.” – Thomas Berry
Perhaps the easiest step to help stop climate change is simply buying a box of LED lightbulbs, which cost about $5 per bulb. For each LED bulb that you install, you will save about $10 per year in energy over the 20+ year lifespan of that bulb. It also reduces over 1,6000 lbs of CO2 emissions per year. The mantra should be: “Save money, stop climate change.” Even if you don’t believe in climate change, you probably do want to save money on electricity. So why not do it?
To utilize principles of natural wisdom in your daily life, try installing a grey water system in your house to divert household waste water into your garden. This will water fruit trees and other plants that sustain local bird and pollinator populations, rather than going into your local sewer system and ultimately into the ocean. This also provides food you can eat, while saving money and reducing substantial carbon emissions from water delivery, sewage treatment and the growth of trees and plants in your garden. In drought-stricken California, grey water is a brilliant idea and is something you can do yourself without needing a permit.
A grey water system shows how you can grow food and save money, while reducing sewage and CO2 emissions.
The biggest problem to creating change for individuals is the lack of compelling alternative vision on how to live a sustainable lifestyle with low CO2 emissions. Most educational efforts focus too heavily on the threats posed by climate change as the motivational force to ask individuals to change behavior. The examples above illustrate the positive benefits that people can get immediately through specific lifestyle actions to reduce CO2 emissions. These include saving money, reducing waste, and improving health and wellness. Everyone wants these benefits, regardless of their belief in human-induced climate change.
Indeed, this compelling alternative vision of a sustainable lifestyle needs to go much deeper. As a first step, the message needs to be presented in a way that looks fun and desirable for people to adopt. It is too easy to get turned off by the typical doom-and-gloom narrative surrounding climate change education. Second, the behavior change actions need to show tangible benefits on their own merits – independent of any climate change benefits – or else these changes will not become permanent. Third, the message needs to create a community of people that reinforce each other and become a showcase for others to join the movement.
We created the Deep Blue Life campaign to become the compelling alternative vision of a sustainable lifestyle. It uses surfing to create immediate engagement across a broad spectrum of the population. There is no better tool to showcase a fun and rewarding lifestyle than surfing. Surfing is more than just a glamorous veneer, because surf culture has a very strong connection and love for a clean environment. Authentic change toward sustainable lifestyle and business is now happening at every level in surf culture, such as the transformation happening with the ECOBOARD Project.
Ultimately, a new approach is needed if we are going to solve climate change and a whole host of other environmental problems. Change has to start small with individuals and communities. Political scale solutions will be necessary eventually, but they are powerless to effect the magnitude of change needed until a 50% majority of individuals fundamentally change their lifestyle to reduce direct CO2 emissions. The first step in getting to this majority starts with ourselves and the community of inspired individuals who live a high-quality “Deep Blue Life.”