Year 4, Month 12, Day 10: Used To Wander Through The Park, Shadowboxing In The Dark…

In my heart I have always lived up the road a bit, in The People’s Republic of Cambridge. The Cambridge Chronicle talks about some of the good guys:

Cambridge —

When it comes to climate change, top-down approaches haven’t worked well, at least not according to a group of environmental organizations at MIT.

Earlier this month, the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence’s Climate CoLab together with the MIT Energy Initiative, the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and MIT Sloan Sustainability, sponsored a conference to explore the role new technology-enabled approaches – like crowdsourcing, social media, and big data – could have in combating climate change. The Climate CoLab is an MIT project that seeks to crowdsource citizen-generated ideas on a range of topics related to climate change.

“Top-down approaches haven’t worked very well,” said Laur Fisher, community and partnerships manager for the MIT Climate CoLab. “Now, new information technologies—especially the Internet—are making it possible to organize and harness the intelligence of huge numbers of people in ways that have never been possible before in the history of humanity.”

By constructively engaging a broad range of scientists, policy makers, business people, investors and concerned citizens, Fisher said the hope is that the Climate CoLab will help develop and gain support for climate change plans that are more effective than past efforts.

“We know how to make real progress on climate change, what we must create is the political will to achieve it. Creating that will require all of us to engage. It can’t be a top-down process,” said Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund president and the event’s keynote speaker. “The arch of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but the line on the graph of global emissions won’t bend until we make it do so.”

This letter is a bit of a hash, but it came out OK, I think. November 28:

To be meaningful, attempts to address climate change must be both polycentric and polytemporal; they must operate on scales of size from individuals to nations, and must reflect both long- and short-term thinking. Crowdsourcing initiatives like that of the MIT’s Climate CoLab are essential; the hegemony of old notions about society, energy and sustainability has delayed progress for far too long. We need dedicated and innovative people, families and communities anticipating and out-thinking the inevitable infrastructural and agricultural disruptions that will accompany an intensifying greenhouse effect. But there is no denying the urgent need for large-scale national policies which can support a wide range of individual, local, and regional initiatives. Unfortunately, as the recent inconclusive Warsaw conference once again demonstrates, the industrialized world’s governments are systemically unable to take the problem seriously.

It will take enormous political will and engagement to wrest the controls of our government from the hands of the corporate interests which no longer even pretend to have our interests at heart. The fossil fuel industry’s grossly disproportionate influence on our political system demonstrates that when it comes to making progress on climate change, oil is not a lubricant.

Warren Senders


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