Disruptive agents: Gilding, Shiva, Klein and Mason school the world

I just got through watching Paul Gilding’s talk, “The earth us full,” which opened up the 2012 TED conference. Based on his book, The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World, he uses the talk to look squarely into the eyes of the global intelligentsia to deliver a firm message: face the fear, sadness, and denial about the inevitable decline of civilization as we know it, and get on with rebuilding. The growth economy is no longer sustainable, we must obey the laws of nature.

From the vantage of those suffering under economic hardship, Vandana Shiva argues that the ecological and economic crisis are one and what we need is not austerity but voluntary simplicity:

“Forced austerity makes the poor and working families pay for the excesses of limitless greed and accumulation by the super rich. Chosen simplicity stops these excesses and allow us to flower into an Earth Democracy where the rights and freedoms of all species and all people are protected and respected.”

Naomi Klein, who has shifted her orientation towards climate change, wrote a terrific piece in The Nation last year, “Capitalism versus the climate,” that underscores the idealogical battle waged by climate deniers (or should we call them “science deniers”?). In a recent interview, Klein argues that whether or not one chooses to mitigate the problem comes down to worldview:

“The Yale cultural cognition project has looked at cultural worldview and climate change, and what’s clear is that ideology is the main factor in whether we believe in climate change. If you have an egalitarian and communitarian worldview, and you tend toward a belief system of pooling resources and helping the less advantaged, then you believe in climate change. And the stronger your belief system tends toward a hierarchical or individual worldview, the greater the chances are that you deny climate change and the stronger your denial will be.”

What can kickstart the planetary mobilization to shift our economic and ecological priorities? It has already started. If you haven’t yet had the chance, dig into Paul Mason‘s recent Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions. A journalist and economics editor for the BBC, Mason travels the world’s emergent insurrections to give us an explanation and insider’s glimpse into the forces shaping rapid social change. From Greece to Egypt, from London to Madrid he shows the interconnection between these global uprisings and why they are succeeding (he also points to the dangers and traps that lay ahead). I plan to do a longer post about the book later–it is so full of ideas and insights that I haven’t properly digested them quite yet–so I’ll leave it to you intrepid explorers to follow the links and check it out for yourself (for starters, click here for a talk he gave based on the book at the London School of Economics)