Richard Heinberg (interviewed here) at the Post-Carbon Institute is a prolific researcher and educator on global sustainability issues. His latest manifesto “There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss.” questions the myth that technology will solve current problems of human impact on the planet. I have been reading his books for several years and have taken his recent course (Fee of $20) and always, his lucid explanations bring home the urgency of the action needed to rein in exponential trajectories that have now become unprecedented existential threats. The last section of the manifesto offers tangible suggestions for action:
8. What you can do right now
Each of us needs to take responsibility for addressing climate change, overpopulation, and biodiversity loss. You can start right now—just choose where to start: from a place of personal growth, within your community, or take it all the way to the national or global levels.
- Climate Stability: Ditch the screen and reconnect with the people in your life. Take the pledge to unplug.
- Right-sized Population: Talk with friends and loved ones about family size. Read this article or Bill McKibben’s book Maybe One for ideas on how to start a conversation.
- Biodiversity Conservation: Turn your yard, balcony container garden, schoolyard, or work landscape into Certified Wildlife Habitat.
- All Three Goals: Learn how to build resilience in your own community. Take the Think Resilience online course.
- Climate Stability: Host a Turn21 event. It’s time we grew up and treated the planet and each other with respect.
- Right-sized Population: Support your local Planned Parenthood Health Center or step up to become a Planned Parenthood Defender.
- Biodiversity Conservation: Take part in some citizen science, and help track wild bird populations. Participate in the Christmas Bird Count.
- All Three Goals: Shift the way your friends and colleagues think about the issues we face. Organize a discussion group for the Think Resilience course.
National / Global Actions
- Climate Stability: Support Barefoot College and/or Solar Aid, who meet people’s needs while reducing emissions.
- Right-sized Population: Support the Population Media Center and change lives by changing the story.
- Biodiversity Conservation: Volunteer with the Land Trust Alliance to protect and conserve natural habitats.
- All Three Goals: Share this manifesto with 10 people. Include your local, state, or national representatives.
If we do all of the things suggested here, can we turn the tide and avert ecological catastrophe and social turmoil? There’s no guarantee. But if we continue on our present path, no magic machine will be able to prevent current trends from converging into an unprecedented ecological and human crisis. Nor can national governments by themselves save the day: they are too invested in the current growth-based model of development, and in many cases too politically polarized to be capable of managing such a profound change of direction. Our only real hope is to join together as individuals, as households, and as communities to weave a new fabric of cooperative action rooted in deep and ancient values. That means deliberately choosing to live in a world that is sustainable and equitable, by following such a world’s inevitable and inherent rules.