Today is the first day of the COP16 climate talks in Cancun. It has by no means the media buzz or expectations of last year’s event in Copenhagen, and there seems to be only a faint glimmer of hope for the talks. I sat with Jane Boles yesterday, a friend and colleague that worked with me at One Sky a couple of years ago. Jane is speaking on a panel regarding her work with REDD carbon sequestration initiatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Vancouver based company ERA. Talking to Jane gives me hope. I saw a twitter post from 350.org founder Bill McKibben yesterday from Cancun, “In Mexico for the climate talks, with tons of fired-up youth at the COY. Let’s put these guys in charge.” In less than 140 characters it dawned on me that the hope for climate action truly lies with youth. Youth have fresh ideas, and do not carry that constrictive limitations of resigned status quo thinking.
I also follow Don Tapscott on twitter, author of Wikinomics and the newly released Macrowikinomics with Anthony D. Williams. Tapscott is tweeting from the World Economic Forum in Dubai and is advocating for the type of economic reform that is required to make climate action binding and responsive. Don Tapscott is a youthful Baby Boomer brokering change, as well as a strong advocate for the insights of youth about a rather archaic economic engine. Tapscott is an articulate spokesperson of collaboration and innovation, and what he talks about lies at the core of transformative solutions. This also gives me hope.
Despite the apparent lack of political will for a strong binding agreement for climate action in Cancun, the global economy is deeply in need of renewal and invigoration. I see the issues of global economics and climate action as integrally tied. Both provide complex challenges that touch every living being on this planet.
Ever since reading Our Common Future, the Bruntland Report of Sustainable Development in 1988, I have pretty much thought that we are all doomed to some sort of ecological collapse. Ten years later, after a near death experience, my mindset was totally transformed. My consciousness was expanded by that cataclysmic incident and I see the current climate crisis as a collective catalyst for global transformation. Big words, and big ideas, all of which I have included in the second edition of rapt in awe, a book based on this idea of collective transformation.
Today, in honour of COP16, and all the people carrying hope in the face of climate change, I am releasing the free e-book rapt in awe. Here is a slightly revised sample:
“Having worked for 20 years with adventure education programs, largely with Outward Bound, I have concocted countless complex challenges for groups to overcome. The educational model is based on designing such complex challenges to inspire truly transformation solutions. And it works. The default social adage that “it’s just human nature” to exhibit selfish self interest suggests that this would be like Survivor with someone being voted off the island, or things degrading to the Lord of the Flies.
Yet time and time again what I witnessed was the profound capacity of groups to harness collective intelligence and adaptive resilience to overcome complex challenges with style. This recurring experience fuels my optimism with respect to the complex challenges of both climate change mitigation and adaptation. Many of the socio-cultural assumptions that we project onto our reality, be it the technical orientation of modernity or the fatalism of traditionalism, are inhibiting the flow of self-organizing systems. The physical laws of the universe as well as the rules for collective intelligence operate with narrow parameters. Self-organization requires things to be just right, which makes our current reality all the more miraculous. The rising urgency surrounding climate change signals to me a series of truly complex challenges that require nothing less than global transformation.
At the heart of this book is this idea that our consciousness is tied to our reality. Never before has the whole of humanity faced an issue of collective shadow like climate change. Never before have we had the interpersonal connectivity to do something as vast and as vital for the planet we inhabit.”