One has to acknowledge that a box exists before being able to think outside it

Full transcription below (after my somewhat self-indulgent preamble).

Paul Handover of ‘Learning from Dogs’ pointed me to this important interview the other day. It stumbles and rambles a bit, but some interesting points are made, especially towards the end where the idea is raised that academia has been subsumed into, and made to serve, the very system that has brought the problem — climate change — about.

For anyone not prepared to sit and watch the full thing for a half hour, I suggest the following:

James Dyke, from about 5 minutes in:

It’s the most fantastic nonsense§ […] another example of the discourses of delay

Wolfgang Knorr, from about 33 minutes in:

We have to realise that no action on climate change will ever happen without broad buy-in by citizens […] turn it on its head; we start with the human system, and the climate system is a kind of a symptom of the crisis

The subject of ‘COP26‘ comes up: well, to me, it says it all that ’26’ is just a single-digit increment. Anyone who truly believes that this one is going to be any different from the twenty-five that led up to it really does have their head planted firmly in the sand. Or, more likely, up their own behind.

I’ve been banging on about these issues for years (one good example is my post ‘Are we ready for 2015?‘, which is very relevant to this topic). I’m no young and charismatic Greta Thunberg; my words vanish almost as soon as they’re written, like drops in the ocean.

This entire subject is what really turned me on to (§) phlyarology, trying to get my head around why the vast majority of homo fatuus brutus behaves in the utterly nonsensical way it does. My conclusion is that it’s about cognitive dissonance and ingrained habit; and that fuels the dual insanities of infinite growth on a finite planet and consumerism. Although I myself have long been resisting the urge to buy new ‘stuff’ — which is, I believe, possibly one of the few rational responses to the problems we face — I only have to look at my 89-year-old mother’s addiction to poring through catalogues and buying things (that then just sit gathering dust): and, not to be a hypocrite, my own addiction to smoking, which I view as a microcosmic example of the harm we’re doing to our home. Because. We. Just. Can’t. Stop. Ourselves.

Anyway… here we go with the transcription I’ve made from the video. (This was done using Sonix; the transcription cost me US$3.07 and about three hours of my time to tidy it up — which is a huge time saving on what it would have cost me had I attempted it manually!)

Dr Alison Green: Hi, and welcome to Scientists Warning TV. Today, I’m really pleased to have with me Dr. James Dyke, a global systems scientist from the University of Exeter, and Dr Wolfgang Knorr, a climate scientist from the University of Lund. Recently, they authored a controversial article that questions the basis of ‘net zero’ which was published in ‘The Conversation’ [Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap] and has gone viral as over one million downloads so far, and counting, I believe. So welcome, James and Wolfgang, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. Wolfgang, I’d like to start with you, if I may, and just ask you, what prompted you to write the paper in the first place? Was there something about net zero that just didn’t stack up for you, well, for all three* of you?

[* The article has three authors; only two are present here: the third is Dr Robert Watson, Emeritus Professor in Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia.]

Dr Wolfgang Knorr: Essentially, I had first contact with the concept of net zero back in 2009 when I co-authored a paper where we make this point, and maybe as one of the first actually, that to stabilize the climate, at some point, we will have to go net zero. At that time, we didn’t have these ambitious climate targets, as we have now, so it wasn’t really on the table at that time, and what we said in that article, and we didn’t call it ‘net zero’, we just talk about compensating any kind of small remaining sources, sometime in the future, by what we call an ‘artificial sink’. And that kind of side remark with that paper, within these, like, 12 years since it has been published, got blown up, now, to this huge topic of ‘net zero’, and that really small kind of artificial sink that we were talking about in that publication back then, now, because of IPCC reports and the logic of us just ramping up our emissions in that time has become huge and it has become basically blown out of any proportions that are sort of logical or… basically, what the IPCC report on meeting the Paris Agreement‘s goal of 1.5 degrees [Celsius] warming was saying that we have to turn our society from one that emits carbon, massively, to one that sucks up carbon from the atmosphere, massively, almost to the same extent.

And that’s really like science fiction. I don’t think anybody ever believed that would be possible; but nobody really wanted to talk about that, that we have very authoritative reports and they create a scenario that is completely unbelievable. Nobody really believes in it, but that thing doesn’t get discussed. But it has very tangible results in policy and in politicians’ statements, and you get the impression that the politicians aren’t really aware of that kind of cognitive dissonance that is created there. But the starting point really is simple scientific observation that we have to balance sources and sinks — and that is actually true. The problem is that we’ve come to a point where it’s not realistic that we can actually do it.

Dr Alison Green: OK, so, it’s almost as if net zero has been invented as something that now has to do all the heavy lifting.

Dr Wolfgang Knorr: Exactly. Exactly.

Dr Alison Green: Now, James, you have, a couple of years ago, produced a short film on the climate crisis, which is really incredibly informative, and I noticed that, in it, at that point, you were saying we’ve tried everything except mitigation, and I wondered how you feel as a global systems scientist, year in, year out, hearing the same rhetoric and then having to hope that the actions will follow and then seeing recently that the pledges have followed, that the pledges have been ramped up: but as everyone says, they’re still pledges. How does it feel, within the scientific community, year in, year out, to be experiencing this and yet just not seeing the necessary actions following through?

Dr James Dyke: It’s a really interesting question. I think the current situation we are in is one of, I think, real peril. I think we’re in a very dangerous situation because we are at risk of slipping into a form of complacency based on some recent announcements of increased ambition. And it’s strange, you know, it seems that many people, normally, would be quite sceptical of political commitments, political promises, we’re all cynics when it comes to not really believing what politicians say; they’ll make a whole series of pledges in order to get elected, and then we just take it for granted that when they’re in office, they don’t necessarily follow through. But now we seem to be in a situation where we are, receiving with open arms the most fantastic, fabulous promises for future technological salvation from our current generation of politicians — and we’re doing that relatively uncritically. So now we can say, or some reports are saying, that we are on course for maybe a little bit above 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, and then with further ambition, maybe at this new COP26, that’s going to be later this year, we’re going to see warming well below 2 degrees, and, therefore, ‘Paris’ is still within reach. And it’s the most fantastic nonsense. Nobody believes that; no one thinks that we’re on course to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, even with the enormous amounts of negative emissions which are being postulated up and running by the middle of this century.

So something really interesting is going on here. Is it another kind of example of the sort of discourses of delay? Previously it was, “well, the climate’s not warming”, and then, “it was warming, but it’s not warming very much,” or, “it is warming very much, but it’s not us”; “OK, it is us, but there’s nothing to worry about”; “OK, it is us, there’s something to worry about, and we’re going to do something about it”; “OK, we’re going to do something about it — but not now“. Hence, the sort of the mid-century pledges, you know, ‘net zero by 2050’. And I’ve become increasingly worried that that’s actually what is happening. Yes, there has been some increase in ambition in, for example, the United Kingdom, the United States, when you regard or when you compare it to their previous pledges. But it’s still woefully inadequate, and it’s also almost entirely divorced from what’s going on in the rest of the world, where we’re seeing more coal fired power stations being built; more oil and gas exploration; more hydrocarbons that are going to get extracted and burnt; more assumptions that we’re going to have baked-in economic growth and therefore ever-increasing rates of energy and material consumption. So, it’s a weird, weird time where there seems to be this huge disconnect between what’s being presented in the policy context and what seems to be demanded if we are going to avoid climate and ecological disaster.

Dr Alison Green: One of the most interesting things for me has been the very fact that this article has really cut through: one million views, including one from a very famous person. So, Greta has been a real champion of this, and she’s really recognised that there’s a key message in this article that has not been spoken about enough. And so she talks about it as one of the most important and informative texts she’s ever read on the climate and ecological crisis, and she’s tweeted it several times. So, clearly with the younger people, it’s resonated. But I wonder about the scientific community; what kind of reactions have you been getting to this article?

Dr James Dyke: It’s been overwhelmingly positive: so, that’s either been in public, where there’s been lots of kind of supportive tweets and retweets and messages, but then also many supportive messages in private where I’ve got a lot of emails from people I know, people I’ve never met, who kind of congratulate us on the article, but with the sentiment that they’re really glad that somebody has said this at last; that they feel that we’re saying something really important, something that needs to be said; there needs to be maybe a readjustment of this narrative: so that’s been great. And there’s also been some pushback, which isn’t surprising at all. It’s a controversial article. I mean, the title — we don’t write the titles, right? The title was, I mean, editors, subeditors write article titles, and they do that because they’re really good at it, because they generate interest. And it did, because it’s, you know, even the concept is a trap. And that’s been pushed back by some people. And I think there’s some fair discussion about that.

And to what extent is the very idea of net zero dangerous? There’s been some sort of circling of the wagons in academia because a significant section of academia is entirely vested in the notion of net zero, is entirely vested in the way in which we’re producing policy in this kind of existing climate policy system. And it wasn’t very subtle, wasn’t much of a subtext; it pretty much was the argument in our article that that’s fundamentally broken, it’s not working; something radically different needs to happen. And so, if you’ve been spending years or decades of your life working in that system, working really hard, trying to make improvements, trying to do the things you know that need to be done, then I would imagine that kind of criticism is going to be quite hard to take and could be construed as being almost like an attacking, you know, undermining these attempts, undermining our colleagues; and that certainly wasn’t our intention. But I think anything less would have been easy to ignore, it wouldn’t have cut through as much, and the situation that we’re currently in, we urgently need to talk about these things.

Dr Alison Green: Absolutely. I was struck by Katherine Hayhoe‘s response. In fact, it’s a very measured and a very sensible response, and she comments on seeing the provocative title and didn’t think that she’d agree with it, but then she says that she read it carefully, and it turns out, much as I wish I didn’t, I do agree with them, particularly with regard to the difficult truth section at the end. So, it’s clearly surfacing something within scientists themselves, I think, that it’s actually really hard for them to face and to look at. Wolfgang, do you have any thoughts on the responses from the scientific community to the article?

Dr Wolfgang Knorr: I would largely like to second what James has said. One thing that I observed also is that part of the way we wrote it, from a kind of very personal perspective, from a historical perspective, went down very well with some older colleagues, some of them retired already, who really thanked us for rolling this out again; kind of the hopes, and desperation, and the sort of the different emotional stages people have been going through, within 30 years, because that’s about how long the story’s been going on. And that was really, really nice to hear; that you can talk about your feelings as a scientist, the kind of emotional stages you go through in your career, publicly, which is kind of a new thing for many people, it seems like, which I thought was quite nice. Another thing was, there was one attempt on Twitter to, sort of, empirically shoot our hypothesis down. That is, net zero is leading to less ambition. One scientist was looking at the short-term targets of countries and he observed actually that those countries that have these kind of distant net zero targets, they have actually increased their short-term ambition also.

So, at first sight, that would actually look like it contradicts what we’re saying, that net zero is an excuse not to do anything. However, if you look at it a bit more closely, it’s that, for example, these short-term targets aren’t really always kept. Germany, for example, would have failed its own target last year had it not been for the pandemic. And nobody ever talks about these short-term targets; they’re called ‘NDCs’ — who’s ever heard of NDCs? ‘Net zero’ is all over the place nowadays. So, it doesn’t cost anything politically to ramp them up. So, it’s just logical that the countries who come up with these distant goals also ramp [up] their completely cost-free, short-term targets. So, I would actually think that that observation supports our theory. So, that kind of highlights the difficulty of the discussion. And it’s also why it’s probably not being discussed that much, because it kind of evades the simple kind of empirical approaches that we scientists are so used to. You really have to look at the psychology of it and the messaging and the communication between politicians and the public and all this.

Dr Alison Green: OK, I think that’s interesting, just hearing that whole array of responses that you’ve had to this. I want to move on now. So, over the decades, we’ve had warnings and, hard as it is to admit, the warnings clearly aren’t working; we’ve had decades of scientists explaining what needs to happen. And we’ve now got a powerful movement of young people who are basically calling out the failings of governments and the failings, as they see it, for governments to take action. And there’s a sense in which the young people have become the adults in the room because they’re not buying these fantasies about carbon offsets, and they’re not buying the fantasies around net zero, and they’re not buying this notion that the governments have it in hand, when clearly they don’t. So, Wolfgang, just staying with you: do scientists really believe these fantasies? And if they don’t, what does that mean for the Paris Agreement?

Dr Wolfgang Knorr: Well, this is really the problem and the strange situation that, in private, we said that in the article, we struggle to name any scientist who would actually have believed even in 2015, not in 2021, that the Paris Agreement was possible, and that we would be able to sort of engineer ourselves out of the problem in the future with some kind of improving technology and all of these things. But they don’t say it. We don’t usually go public with this knowledge, partly because we’re stuck in everyday life; we have to write grant applications, review papers, and teach, and all this stuff. And we’re stuck in this academic world where you’re allowed to say certain things, and then other things are perceived to be activist, and a little bit too political. And so, there is this divide between what’s being said privately and what’s being said in publications and in teaching and so on. And obviously, people like Greta, they’re not bound to that. And one particular thing that has really been a problem for me, and it’s actually been instrumental for me, for the fact that I’ve been moving out of academia more and more myself, is that kind of cognitive dissonance between calling the climate crisis a ‘crisis’, or ’emergency’, and just going on about our daily lives.

And Greta, Greta: she really gets it; she says, even after all these emergency declarations by the UK Parliament, the EU Parliament, local councils and the universities themselves and so on and so on, she just says, “Well, you don’t treat a crisis like a crisis, and, as long as you don’t treat a crisis like a crisis,” that’s what she said in a podcast on Swedish radio, “there is not going to be a solution”. And that really is the adult in the room. And, at the present moment, it’s really hard to swallow that, but, as scientists, we can only learn from her at the moment, and that’s really a terrible situation, as she says herself, that kind of burden put on her, I mean, she’s talking to some US committee recently, it was in The Guardian, she’s talked to the UN, to the EU Parliament, all these things. I mean, and every time she does that, she says, “I shouldn’t be the one doing this, it’s ridiculous!” And that’s really true, and that really has to end. And we made a really small step with this article, hopefully, in that direction, but I think there is a lot more to do. Only the beginning; and I’m a really big fan of Greta, I have to say that, we’ve heard it already. And I can only hope that we as scientists can move in that direction.

Dr Alison Green: I couldn’t agree more. And I think you touched there on academia, and one of the things that has intensely frustrated me over the past couple of years, and particularly since I left academia, is its unwillingness to tackle the difficult problems. And that’s the case whether you’re in academia or whether you’ve left, and so, for example, over seven thousand universities and colleges globally now have declared a climate emergency. But, interestingly, the three-point plan is basically about getting their estates in order. It’s basically about achieving net zero in terms of their operations, but nowhere are they actually looking at what could be seen as their role in perpetuating the crisis. And there are numerous examples where we see in the press, for example, students calling out, say, Cambridge University and others, because they’re still tied to fossil fuels. And there’s been sort of long, tortuous processes where universities have been, you know, they’ve had to sort of grudgingly extricate themselves from those situations. How do you see academia in terms of shouldering its responsibility for its part in arguably perpetuating the crisis?

Dr James Dyke: Academic institutions, just like many institutions, maybe most, nearly all institutions, on the one hand want to say, “It’s a climate and ecological emergency,” and on the other, they want to carry on business as usual. And that’s understandable; if you’re a private company, if you’re a corporation, if you’ve got to generate return, shareholder return on value and things like this, your mission, as an organization, is to generate profits. You might like to think that universities and educational institutions would be a bit more enlightened about what their objective is, but there are still, certainly in the UK higher education sector, some pretty hard bottom lines: student numbers, grant income, league table performance, things like this; a relatively small number of metrics which vice-chancellors and the senior management team are measured by, progress through their career by, that continue to dictate and drive the sector.

And then when you look down there, at where the climate and ecological emergency kind of collides with that, and you can see there’s going to be very, very big problems. Because if you’ve got an institution that’s meant to be increasing numbers, or increasing numbers of students from overseas, or increasing grants — it’s all about more, right? Find me a vice-chancellor who actually wants to decrease the size of their university, decrease student numbers, decrease not just total emissions, but total environmental footprint. And then at the same time as reorient that institution in ways which could provide some of the solutions, some of the new knowledge to lead us out of this potential disaster. And it’s — I don’t know, I mean, I can think of maybe a number of small sort of independent institutions, right; but when it comes to mainstream universities, I don’t think really any have changed their fundamental practices.

Dr Alison Green: Wolfgang, I’m just thinking about that in terms of the responsibility, if you like, the obligations, the duty of care the institutions have to those young students who are going to be starting in autumn on courses that, maybe, will lead to careers that could be obsolete in a few years’ time. Is that something that crosses your radar at all?

Dr Wolfgang Knorr: What I tend to see, being at Lund University, which is very strong in kind of sustainable development studies, and it’s actually one of Europe’s major universities, I think it’s got 30-40 thousand students, and it’s a university that is exceedingly rich, actually, and it kind of has this feeling of being a vanguard in kind of sustainable development studies. And maybe your petroleum engineering example is a good one because it’s so blatantly obvious. But the difficult one might actually come in when you start kind of questioning also the role of sustainability studies. And that is something I have felt quite a lot, being a climate scientist, and it is really there and it’s where it is; it is really this kind of almost obligation to sound positive and solution-oriented, all the time, and not having really much time to kind of sit back and reflect on the situation, which is really forced on you, mainly through grant applications; because grant applications are always about solutions.

So, you have to… in Sweden, you have standard grant applications: you have to list how they will contribute to the sustainable development goals; it’s actually kind of programmed in there. But that actually, in my view, creates some problems because it makes it all, I mean, you have some instruments there, you’ve got models or whatever, and then you have to think about how can that then help the sustainable development goals. But it may not. Modelling [unclear] at all; we might actually rather want to listen to Indigenous people who have lived sustainably for thousands, and even tens of thousands, of years, rather than build models in what might be a waste of time; but I just happen to have models. I work from my computer. There might be not that much money for expeditions or whatever. You know, it’s sometimes it’s completely practical, and you just have to work with what you have, and then you end up in this kind of ivory tower where you talk about something because it was kind of forced on you by grant applications — you can’t even be honest and say I want the money, even though this is not helping sustainable development. [unclear]

Dr Alison Green: There’s a kind of mismatch, isn’t there, between the kinds of problems and things that academics are constrained to focus on by virtue of the way that the systems are set up and what they arguably should be focused on, because it’s almost like a reification of knowledge as opposed to wisdom, which is how Nick Maxwell put it. I just want to move on. The net zero article has made this enormous splash, which is fantastic; it’s got people talking. What would you like to see happen next? What do you think should happen next? What do you want to see happening as a result? Maybe I’ll start with James.

Dr James Dyke: Well, we need to talk about it. So I think we’ve provided a space in which we can reflect on the plausibility, the feasibility, the credibility of some of the plans, some of the pledges and the promises which are being presented to us as solutions, you know, the way out of the current crisis. The danger was that as time progresses, the 1.5 budget becomes smaller and smaller, it’s practically non-existent already, but in a few years, well, it’s effectively gone. Carbon dioxide removal technologies: they’re just going to increase proposed carbon dioxide removal technologies, you know, they’ll just increase the removal term in their simple equations or in their very, very complex models; and they’re just going to lead us towards, you know, towards the cliff edge. So, we urgently need that kind of discussion right now. And we’ve sort of got to stop doing that.

And then we need to face the facts of the matter of where we are right now; the severity of the situation, but then, also, what’s driven us to this place. So, one of the things we’re trying to get at in the article is trying to understand, or unpick, the dysfunctions in this climate policy system; this sort of 30-year history of repeated failure. So net zero is just kind of the latest manifestation of a climate policy system that continually is unable to deliver what we need, which is just mitigation, urgently reducing the amount of fossil fuels. And we can’t do it. The climate policy system can’t do it. Now, opinions about that will differ. I would take a kind of a growth perspective: and the reason it can’t do that is because it’s absolutely baked-in to the assumption of continual economic growth and continual growth in energy material consumption. So it’s no wonder you’re not going to see reductions in emissions, right, because the system is just getting larger over time.

But whichever kind of position you start with, or assumptions, or particular axe you’ve got to grind, this is the thing we need to talk about. And then we need to talk about the role of academia in that: because at the moment, academia and academics are being subsumed into that system whereby you’re only really allowed to say a relatively small number of things within that kind of climate policy system. You’ve got to adhere to an incrementalist, market-based approach, kind of, can’t rock the boat, and also, a strange form of self-censorship where you can’t be ‘doomist’ or defeatist. You’ve got to be continually optimistic and upbeat about all the kind of things that we can fix. So there’s a space. There’s a space which is between, well, acknowledging that there’s something deeply wrong with how we’re producing climate policy and how we’re responding. But it’s also not assuming that we’re doomed.

There’s a middle way. And the middle way is basically to reflect on why we continue to get this thing wrong and then work on that. And we don’t have much time to do it. And you might think that’s an impossible task, or you wouldn’t even know where to begin, but what is incredibly frustrating is that isn’t that one of the jobs that academia should be doing? It should be generating new knowledge and ways of understanding our world; and if we’re not going to do it, who is? It’s not going to be Shell, or BP, or national governments, because they’re all entirely wedded to a business as usual approach. Somehow we need to take back that narrative. We need to rediscover a little bit of bravery and not be afraid of stepping into an area of debate which typically academics have been excluded from, because I think there’s an important role that academics are playing, which is essentially tacit agreement to something which they know, and they do know, is deeply wrong. Maybe we’ll talk about that particular example of dissonance later, but I think that’s where the discussion needs to go next.

Dr Alison Green: I think that’s really interesting. And you’re right; there is a sense in which in academia, academics work in their silos, and it’s long been acknowledged that that’s problematic — and yet they still exist. And so there’s a sense in which the problem belongs with the climate scientists. Whereas in fact, I think what you’re saying is that we need much more of a interdisciplinary/ post-disciplinary kind of approach to this and importantly, to have that conversation. Wolfgang, I’m just going to look to you to [offer] some final words on that particular subject. What do you think needs to happen next?

Dr Wolfgang Knorr: I think we need some kind of wake up process, and that should probably start with a redirection of the current discussion and it really goes back to the question, what progress is? At the moment what it looks like, it’s almost like a situation where you have a patient that has three doctors, and they can’t agree on the cure. And the patient get sicker, and sicker, and sicker. And now the doctors can agree, OK, you get this, the blue pill. And that’s ‘progress’. At the moment, we’re kind of thinking that’s progress. But we have all these pledges and we have more and more pledges, and we’re ramping up the ambition, but the CO2 in the atmosphere gets higher and higher. We’re going closer and closer to the cliff edge, as James is saying.

So, we have to get out of this current, almost fake, optimism we have. We need a much more adult conversation about climate change and not being too jubilant about, you know, it’s not that these these new pledges are bad, but we should not get carried away, which is not an adult conversation. But what we should really do is look at the situation, note the fact that every year CO2 levels and greenhouse gas levels rise in the atmosphere: it’s getting worse, not better. And we can only start sort of saying, OK, we made progress once CO2 levels in the atmosphere go down. And that’s a really, really long way to go, and we have to acknowledge that.

And the other thing is, as you just said, we need to look at the blocks to action and why we’re not doing it. And that, for example, I could think of a very practical suggestion: we need to reform the IPCC, because the IPCC structure is: physical system first, then mitigation, and then adaptation kind of separate. And there is so much energy put in understanding the physical system and the glaciers and the sea level rise, and then impacts on ecosystem, all that. There’s a minuscule amount of work getting invested into the reflection of why our system doesn’t perform. We just say, OK, we need political will and then you’ll sort it all out. But that’s not true. There is a very incredibly complex system of different actors there that has to be navigated, it’s hellishly complex; for example, we have to realize that no action on climate change will ever happen without broad buy-in by citizens, and that’s not even discussed. So, reform of the IPCC could actually be a starting point, and then we turn it all on its head; we start with the human system and then the climate system is kind of a symptom of the crisis. That would be my suggestion.

Dr James Dyke: But that’s really interesting, right? Because it’s no surprise that the IPCC has evolved like that, because by putting so much emphasis on trying to understand climate sensitivity by trying to, I mean, there’s continual papers which are all about determining how big the budget is: it’s smaller, it’s larger, it’s smaller, it’s larger. And that’s the only thing that policymakers seem to want. You know, how much time can they buy in order to be able to do the decarbonisation? And absolutely no critical reflection on the drivers that have brought us to the place.

And also, maybe one of the big mistakes the IPCC had was including the kind of potential mitigation scenarios which were all about economic assumptions, and assumptions about how societies are meant to function. And we kind of mentioned that in the article. You know, they’re the sort of IPCC scenarios or the kind of modelling scenarios that the IPCC use are all based on a really, really narrow perspective or an interpretation of how societies are meant to act. And, if anything, you can understand them as effectively ruling out the kind of large-scale rapid response, which is the only thing that’s going to get us out of the mess, right?

So, it’s a sort of a toxic system which has evolved, which has kind of captured academia, captured academics, subsumed us entirely in this system, which, I mean, I don’t want to sound conspiratorial about it, but a system that’s almost been designed in order to stop doing the effective action because it will only ever allow incremental market-based change; it will only essentially accept a solution which perpetuates business as usual, continual economic growth. And that could be a recipe for disaster, right?

Dr Alison Green: Absolutely. Well, I feel a bit silly saying it; I mean, here’s hoping it doesn’t. But, look at where we are, you know, the situation does look pretty desperate, and it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that people like Greta are shouting from the rooftops. And it’s quite humbling, I think, for all of us to see her and all of those young people doing that, I mean, we’re all parents, well, the three of us here are parents. Okay, so that’s possibly not the most optimistic note to end on, but it’s been really interesting talking with you both, so thank you both so much for your time.

This video (‘The Net Zero Trap‘) has a CC BY-ND 2.0 license, which appears to prohibit publication of ‘transformations’ of the content, although the Creative Commons website says that ‘merely changing the format never creates a derivative’ — so, that’s my defence here: I haven’t created a derivative, I’ve just changed the format, from audio to text; and in the process made it accessible to the deaf community, who would otherwise be excluded. Here’s hoping you think it was time well spent.

Header image adapted from
silver tabby cat in brown cardboard box
by mary rabbit on Unsplash

About peNdantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
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2 Responses to One has to acknowledge that a box exists before being able to think outside it

  1. The problem is that selfish, Egotistical blind humans have to be the ones to act.
    Keep Laughing! Someone may be watching

    Liked by 1 person

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