Treatment of new ideas

Treatment of new ideas and thought innovators in our society:  how this links to new emerging social paradigms and movements within the context of climate emergency and how we can be part of this change.

Ideas that were once thought of and presented to the world even though without an obvious benefit to the innovator will always find new paths of expression. New, dynamic platforms of continuity in the sphere of new paradigms because that is the nature of ideas’ creation and evolution in the global consciousness.

 You cannot unthink an idea. Neither can those who are the first receivers or early adopters of the innovation. Quite often new ideas take on the role of trailblazers especially if the society is not ready or unwilling to listen to, explore and take up a new paradigm that the idea is unveiling. Ideas can only be considered if there is a safe and cooperative platform within the community to present new concepts. This doesn’t exist today.  Ideas are, more often than not, digested within closed speciation-type circles and think tanks, locked in organisational silos, scrutinised with filters of conformist ideological or political lenses to be churned out, finally, as something much less effective, or even impotent. The public doesn’t even hear about this process, let alone participate in it. I know exactly how that happens and feels as I have been at the receiving end of this kind of treatment, having to let go of author’s rights to the multitude of concepts that make up a huge body of work to see it being reduced to political slogans, clever phrases and workshop material. 

It’s hard to be an innovator in this day and age. Why?  The process of introduction of an idea is thwarted before the idea can be seen for what it is and how it could manifest, if presentation is not possible. Secondly, one cannot really secure their right to their own green ideas because of the present-day status quo that ideas belong to a group and should be shared by everyone. This can prove to be a wasteful and unscientific exercise because it’s the innovator who holds the key to the secret door of the thinking that produced the idea in the first place. There are highly advanced help tools for developing new ideas that can help unlock this door. From the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, NLP through to systems including Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats. Whilst the latter assertion that ideas belong to everyone is, to a large extent, true, there should be a stage in the creative process that allows an innovator to present his or her idea in an open environment. Such a neutral and unbiased method would benefit everyone.

The old thinking is applied when new thinking paradigms emerge.  This is why, at a guestimate, most ideas are rejected and never tried due to this paradox.  Why is that then still the prevailing modus operandi? Should we not maximize our efficiency in solving complex problems like climate change given our tight timeframes?

I believe that such an inert, linear way of dealing with social and green innovation can be averted. If, as a whole society or at least a critical aware mass, we push for new, democratic and creative ways of dealing with innovation. At it is now, it is easy to think that it’s not worth presenting or even having new social and green ideas, as they are not going to gain traction long enough before they get assimilated into the existing thinking.  Or, they simply become ignored by those who dictate who can and cannot have certain ideas, only to be taken up at a later date. In an ideal world, any ideas that help us all get ourselves out of the current climate crisis should be looked upon as precious gems of human development that deserve our undivided attention and wider debate.

To re-adjust this requires a social space that could look like the one, my project partner and co-author of the book, A Big Strategy designed for this purpose. A friendly and informal green learning, solution sharing and networking space that includes many ‘speaker corners’ where ideas are further improved upon, critiqued and tried. My work has inspired the creation of similar hubs in many cities but the potential of the integrated model, that I co-innovated well over a decade ago, has not been reached yet. To keep up with ever-increasing anthropogenic climate change we need well-connected networks of green spaces in our communities.  In order to understand the thinking that underlies the work here, see more on this in the posts that present some achievements of this work to date.

So what happens when holistic- systemic change- ideas are ignored?

If ideas enabling far-reaching systemic improvements get repeatedly ignored by the policymakers within some governments and non-governmental organisations alike, a predictable consequence of that is an increase in social discord. Reactionary laws, as we observe today, that ban democratic protests in democratic European states where people want to see real change and action on climate crisis and the environment. 

 Once the ‘normal’ means of enacting the change are exhausted, the communication of the social discontent shifts to the streets for political leadership to listen. This gives rise to new, perhaps, more radical forms of expression and social movements such as the latest group of planet protection activism, Extinction Rebellion.

  It’s difficult not to react to these acts of social resistance. For example, seeing people gluing themselves to the doors of fracking venues in direct action against this environmentally disastrous “solution” to our energy crisis, questions our thinking. At a much deeper level, it also shakes our consciousness to the core, and makes us feel uncomfortable. Social movements like these echo the wider global frustration. Like a barometer, they measure our collective anger with the consensus on going slow on climate. They express our dissolution with the lack of a coherent path of transitioning to a model that works for people and planet.

 We are living with the climate emergency whereby numerous tipping points have been triggered by the sum total of global emissions from over a century of development. Decades of turning our minds away from addressing the looming crisis and ignoring the findings of climate change science and the most advanced innovation leave our humanity today at a crossroads.

We either smarten up and shift our economic order of the day, or we continue on the path of ‘business as usual’ and pay the dire consequences.  I subscribe to the thinking that the answers to our collective crisis rest at the site of convergence of the ideas that postulate that a new future is possible, and the intersection of social movements and green activism. This then helps translate our grassroot innovation into political reforms that can catalyse practical action on these fronts.

Protests happen because we increasingly connect the dots and our emotions to the issues. This initially manifests as fear and concern for our future and that of our families. It equally can become a positive force for change if today’s elected politicians take on board grassroot, eco and social innovation.  This is necessary for us to see the 80-20% life-affirming shift taking place.

Is social collapse inevitable or is there another way, the third way?

Social collapse that Roger Hallam of Extinction Rebellion is warning about is the reality that is an accepted consequence for many, especially seeing how inadequately we have been dealing with green and socio-economic innovation. A case in point: The UK’s Green Deal fiasco. There have been scores of individuals and organisations that issued similar warnings in different ways.  However, this new spark of collective consciousness has emerged in the vast sea of inertia by bringing our attention to climate related issues in a more visceral and immediate way. They gather more political and social power just the same as the costly impacts on our communities do.

Whilst it is easy to dismiss this voice as yet another alarmist reaction, there is a deep and growing resonance across different geopolitical latitudes with the message and the need to act. And whilst I agree with the analysis of inaction leading to eventual social collapse, as backed by those in the know, social collapse cannot be the end of our civilisation or point of no return.

Social collapse is not the end of the world.  But it will create a lot more hostile planet for us and all other species if our planet’s immune system is seriously undermined due to its ecosystems’ collapse. This may sound obvious, but sometimes it is the obvious where opportunities for an honest, forward-looking dialogue lie, especially today in the world of thirty-second idea pitches and three-line opinions on social media sites.  

My work shows how an innovative, ever expanding and inclusive social infrastructure can be built in communities. How it could help us realign environmental needs with our own, to address the climate crisis while tackling many seemingly disconnected problems at the same time.  We introduced this concept already in 2004 in London. A green infrastructure i.e. understood as the establishment of the interconnected solutions similarly modelling the structure of the Internet rather than physical buildings.  

 Creating a perfect storm of solutions

The biggest man made crises that culminated in conflicts like the WW2 are examples of a breakdown of social structures due to insupportable social inequalities, the triumph of destructive ideologies and the irreversible destruction of cultures, heritage, and nature. Nonetheless, despite the heavy toll they inflict on the human race, the life carries on but social transactions and rules of engagement alter and pulling together for a higher purpose creates a collective effort to affect change on unprecedented scale.  We need to find ways of going beyond scenarios of global apocalypse, out-of-control species extinction and deliberate ecocide. Beyond general disintegration of our societal structures as we know them and towards new better ways of living, working and spending our leisure time together.

The isolationist us and them thinking often ultimately takes us no closer to the broader solution and keeps us stuck in a ‘blame game’: who is causing climate change ? Who should pay for it?

The argument is no longer about who is a bigger culprit; we are all responsible for driving climate change.  We need to ditch old patterns of our collective thinking and behaviour. By creating social spaces like ecoplazasthe facility for an ongoing dialogue and multi-sector participation this is possible. These spaces become focal points for community regenerationConcept of creating solution-oriented society, innovated through hard-won insights developing this work, becomes a guiding principle, shifting the public debate on to how to congruently deal with the resources in our communities to address the crisis. How to translate the climate action agreements that countries signed up to during the Paris Accord. This gives communities the economic and social stability that comes from a rapid innovation with a green theme.  Social green spaces such as ecoplazas enable this transition from a total paralysis of inaction thinking to a practical coordinated action on the ground. Not tomorrow but now.  We don’t just watch the frustratingly slow progress from a distance; we become active participants in this process of change.  

Climate-Change Action Timeline

A simple timeline highlights key developments from a rich tapestry of earth-focussed events. Think of it as a retrospective look at our overall performance in the area of human-planet relationship. It maps out the last 50 years. The timeline carries the expression of scores of activists, groups, organisations, creative scientists and enlightened political, entrepreneurial and religious figures for the benefit of future generations.  If this timeline had a voice, it would reverberate with a million sounds with the same message: we must act before it’s too late! The first report on global warming was issued by the Center for International Environmental Law, CIEL in 1968. The 1972 saw the first emerging idea that a common enemy of humanity will likely be environmental degradation. We waited over 20 years for NASA’s James Hanson’s testimony before Congress: “global warming has begun.”

A few years before that The Rio Earth Summit marked a turning point as more than 130 nations agreed an action plan for developing the planet sustainably through the twenty-first century. Protection of forests came into focus.  Already there was a talk about emissions reduction, investment in clean technologies and polluter-pay programs. Although no targets and timetables were agreed, Rio’92 had set the climate change response machinery into motion. Several earth summits and 24 climate change COP conferences followed from that crucial date.  The drawback, the Kyoto Protocol with its singular market-based emissions trading mechanism failed to answer the burning climate change question.  The carbon-offsetting cash crops’ schemes such as the most recent palm oil production have become just cash schemes, devastating crucial habitats and further undermining the planet’s carbon sinks. The science concludes: there is little or no chance to keep Earth temperatures within the safe limit of 1,5 °C. Efforts to mobilise the global community continue unabated. In 2015 nations signed up to a landmark Paris Accord Agreement, with 195 countries adopting the first-ever legally binding climate deal and pledging to keep the world’s temperatures well below 2 degrees.

Knowing more about the climate emergency, climate crisis is the new term used at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland.  Just like global warming of the seventies became climate change two decades later. How many of these events before the climate crisis is on the agenda of every government, every business and every citizen?  What’s needed is more than a name change for everyone to stop and act – we need a game change.  A system change?!  

Political peaks and troughs of earth focussed events always closely reflect the perceptions of the public. The public wants to see tangible progress on the climate crisis for the critical mass of people to be moved into action. There have been too many momentums lost. There has to be a huge global impetus for the 80-20 shift to occur. Many people sense today that the singular focus on targets as per Kyoto Protocol has curtailed progress on climate change. We have done this by putting all our faith into ETS instead of conceiving right from the onset, when there was already enough evidence, an integrated plan for solving climate change.  A question, how much, has displaced the foremost question of how?  

Moreover, the last two decades have been mired in delay and denial – the biggest obstacles to progress. What economic model should we follow that safeguards the protection of our carbon sinks? How to slow down a downward spiral into tipping points’ chaos to thrive on the planet that, if protected, can protect all its natural diversity? A radical, bold action against climate change is what many call for.  But, this requires us to ditch scarcity thinking that forces austerity that disempowers our political and social matrix. Instead, we want to see an expression of abundance, common resource protection and replenishment backed by climate justice.  This involves a strict protection of rainforests and its custodians – the indigenous people. Our ecosystem of solutions is probably as vast a landscape as the Internet, still mostly underutilised and under the radar despite us being interconnected, virtually.

At the COP15, our indie film Ecoplaza introduced the concept of a three-prong approach we called “Plan B,” as a better way of addressing climate change. We presented this directly to IPCC members and also distributed many DVDs throughout the conference’s many venues. We showed how it is possible to accelerate our efforts in combating climate change.  “Plan B” has, at its core, lifestyle regeneration centres acting as a catalyst for nationwide transitions that, if combined with many other concepts within this plan, we would, for the first time, have a truly effective framework for action. We thought of it as a sort of social and ecological superstructure operating in our communities.  In 2009 this concept was completely unique. While the scientists and leaders were still focused on a tactics approach to addressing climate change, we were postulating a totally new approach that would prove far more effective than proposals brought to the table in Copenhagen. We promoted a novel concept of a new branch of science that is led by generalists as opposed to specialists in order to uncover solutions and connections that weren’t previously seen. A concept of stock-taking, an inventory of resources and shortages to maximise our success. The concept of a stockade – a way of reviewing the progress was taken up by Paris Accord. Our film shows how citizens could respond to the crisis through a participatory process rather than relying on the system alone. Likewise, the Paris Accord calls for wider participation. 

This simple yet, at the same time, complex idea helps everyone invest socially in enhancing their communities while saving the planet.  The social enhancement and lifestyle improvements would become an inevitable by-product of environmental and social solutions generated by action hubs in communities building resilience and capacity. The irony is that although this innovative work has never been given an opportunity to be fully presented or credited since its introduction in 2003, it has hugely influenced many groups and individuals and the course of action on climate. I cannot even imagine the scale and acceleration of such improvements if the entire body of this work was applied.  So six years on, in 2015, “a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future” came into being. “

“The leaders agreed that a new framework of action is needed that involves financial and resource provisions, technologies and capacity building and helping vulnerable nations to meet the agreed goals.”  I believe there are many lessons to be learned in how we collectively deal with green and social innovation.  I am cautiously optimistic that the international climate change deal of 2015 will empower the American progressives to craft a robust green deal for their own country as the world’s future depends upon it.