What You Said about Post Carbon future


By Ken White, posted Jul 31, 2014:
Change lever image via shutterstock.
“Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth.” — Archimedes

The systemic challenge we’re facing—in a nutshell—is that our human family’s seemingly boundless wants are overtaxing our planet’s limited means. The immediate challenge (as you know well from your own experience, I’m guessing) is the difficulty of finding a useful leverage point for creating the kind of change you and I know is absolutely vital.

And yet, that’s the work we’ve all taken on: you, me, Post Carbon Institute, and the community that has sprung up around the urgent need to alter course—and fast.

Of course, we don’t all have to use the same approach. But we still have to know what lever we’re pushing, and why. And that’s where you—and PCI—come in.

As part of Post Carbon Institute’s strategic planning process, we asked for your advice on how we might refine our approach, and better position our efforts. More than 1,500 PCI stakeholders responded, and our research included interviews with more than 100 colleagues, allies, and friendly critics, who offered in-depth insights into PCI’s strategy and program.

Thank you for your honest, provocative, passionate participation in this process. Building on this input, Post Carbon Institute’s board, staff, and Fellows are finalizing a three-year plan to dramatically increase energy literacy and build community resilience, which we’ll share in a few weeks, through blog posts, more detailed on-line documentation, and, of course, through the work we do.

Up first—the survey results [PDF graphic]. Look for more on PCI’s strategy next month) Highlights from the survey include:

Areas of Overwhelming (80-95%) Agreement
• Climate change and fossil fuel limits are real and serious.
• There are more than enough fossil fuel reserves to raise the global temperatures more than 2o Celsius, and “technology and policy cannot keep us below 2o Celsius with no economic impact.”
• We have to reduce energy usage, even if the climate issue is solved.
• Fossil fuel reserves are inadequate to maintain economic growth and increase available energy.
• Resource and ecological constraints will lead to economic contractions.
• Inequality cannot be resolved without a significant economic/political shift.
• We cannot have both sustainability and 7+ billion people living at Western European standards.
• Current levels of debt are unsupportable.
• Lack of political leadership is a serious problem.
• Powerful corporate interests will fight to preserve “business as usual.”

Areas of Strong (60-80%) Agreement
• Renewable energy sources cannot equal or increase energy levels.
• We cannot resolve all our environmental problems and still have a growing GDP.
• The US economy is being held together with debt, quantitative easing, etc.

Area of (45%) Disagreement
• If we can mobilize enough people, we can exert the political influence needed for a relatively smooth transition to a sustainable future.

Projections of What the Near Future (< 10 Years) Holds
• 51% A semblance of “business as usual”
• 39% Collapse of major social, economic, environmental, etc. systems
• 10% Political pressure leading to reduced fossil fuel use

What Would Lead to a Shift from “Business as Usual”? (More than one answer allowed)
• 55% Energy shocks
• 51% Geopolitical events
• 44% Financial collapse
• 42% Climate disruption
• 16% Popular movements

What Would Lead to the Best Possible Future? (More than one answer allowed)
• 48% Build community resilience
• 46% Reduce energy use
• 46% Tap renewable energy
• 26% Build a popular movement
• 24% Educate people
• 11% Build “lifeboats”

Which PCI programs are most relevant? (More than one answer allowed)
• 85% Busting the Shale Hype: "Drill, Baby, Drill?" (reports), ShaleBubble.org, "Drilling California" (report), "Snake Oil" (book)
• 72% Building Community Resilience: Resilience.org and Resilience.org/guides (books).
• 72% Moving Beyond Economic Growth: "The End of Growth" (book), "Climate After Growth" (report).
• 66% Increasing Energy Literacy: "ENERGY" (books), Energy-Reality.org, and Public Energy Art Kit.
• 50% Connecting the Dots: Fellows program, "The Post Carbon Reader" (books)
• 47% Animating Insights: PCI YouTube channel

What This Means
Obviously, if you ask your friends, you’re bound to find a lot more agreement than if you ask a cross-section of the public…or your opponents. The above data indicate that a huge majority of our community support Post Carbon Institute’s efforts to help build a saner, healthier future.

We’re particularly heartened by the support for PCI’s programs, as well the approaches that underlie those programs (like building community resilience, tapping renewable energy, and reducing consumption).

Up next—PCI’s strategy…and an invitation for your continued and deeper participation.

Survey results graphics [PDF]


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