Give up hope

September 20, 2019 by  
Filed under Insights

12 years ago on 7 July 2007, Al Gore held the Live Earth show, with artists across 7 continents performing and spreading awareness on climate change.

We wrote to the papers to express concern about what will happen after Live Earth. Will more people be concerned about climate change and start taking action?

We wrote the following:

If there is one message to remember after watching Live Earth, it is this – Give up hope. Give up hope that everything will turn out fine. Give up hope that Al Gore, Madonna or Linkin Park will save us from climate change. Give up hope that the government will do something for us. Give up hope that the person beside you will do something. Give up hope that some new technology will save us. Give up hope because when hope dies, action begins.

When we give up hope that somebody or something will save us, we have no choice but to take things into our own hands. We have to do it ourselves, and everyone can and must do something. It is not science, technology or governments that are creating this climate change problem but each individual. Let us stop pointing the finger at others and take action ourselves now. We can take the following actions:

One, learn more about climate change. Read up on local and global climate change issues. What are the problems and what needs to be done?

Two, take personal actions to minimise energy usage and wastage. Switch off lights and computers when not in use. Use more efficient lightings and appliances.

Three, spread the message and influence others. We can educate family members, friends, classmates or colleagues on climate change. We can influence the organisation that we belong, whether it is a school, a company or a social group, to reduce its carbon footprint.

Four, support local environmental initiatives and groups that tackle climate change. We can participate in government initiatives and campaigns or support the local environmental non-governmental organisations. We can join their activities or volunteer our time with them.

Five, use our rights as citizens and consumers. As citizens, we can participate in the formulation of government policies regarding climate change through dialogues, feedback or the media. As consumers, we can buy products with smaller carbon footprints or support companies that reduce their carbon emissions.

Remember after watching Live Earth: Give up hope. When hope dies, action begins.

Similarly, after the SG Climate Rally this Sat, we would tell those who joined: Give up hope. Because when hope dies, action begins.

20 Green Books You Should Read

July 28, 2019 by  
Filed under Insights

Here’s 20 green books that I would recommend for you to read. How many have you read before?

Save the Earth by Jonathon Porritt

The red pill that started it all for me.

Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine Benyus

The book that inspired me to take up environmental engineering.

Earth in the Balance by Al Gore

Al Gore’s first book was not An Inconvenient Truth, but was this book written when he was still a Senator.

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

Refining the way we look at waste and design.

What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers

The book that started the sharing economy movement.

The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth About Global Warming by Fred Pearce

Uncovering the truth about Climategate.

Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats by Gwynne Dyer

Get ready for climate chaos.

How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate by Jeff Goodell

Summary of what geoengineering is all about.

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

A view subscribed by some who are pro-nuclear and pro-GMO.

Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal by Tristram Stuart

The book that started the food waste movement.

The Great Disruption: How the Climate Crisis Will Transform the Global Economy by Paul Gilding

Learn about the climate crisis and get ready for impact.

Worldchanging, Revised Edition: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century by Alex Steffen

Alex Steffen shares about our bright green future.

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: How Interface proved that you can build a successful business without destroying the planet by Ray Anderson

The late Ray Anderson shares the Interface’s sustainability story.

The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems by Van Jones

Van Jones shares about the rising green tide which lifts all boats.

The Weather Makers : How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery

Good read on climate change.

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn

First of a trilogy that explores human civilisation and our problems.

Endgame, Vol. 1 and 2 by Derrick Jensen

Disturbing two-part book about resistance and eco-terrorism.

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins

The right way to do business.

Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth by James Lovelock

The book that introduces the Gaia hypothesis.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

The book that sparked the modern environmental movement.

6 Principles to Make Your Green Message Stick

July 28, 2019 by  
Filed under Insights

One interesting idea from the book, Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, is about the Curse of Knowledge. Quoting from the book: “This is the Curse of Knowledge. Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind.”

This is relevant for environmentalists. Sometimes we can’t understand why people and companies don’t get our message; why they continue to engage in activities that harm the environment. We forget to put ourselves in their shoes or refuse to understand their state of mind and why they do what they do.

We need to understand their mindset first and then formulate our messages to make it stick and spread. To make ideas stick, the authors shared 6 principles:

1. Simplicity: What is the core idea?

2. Unexpectedness: How do we generate interest and curiosity?

3. Concreteness: How do we make it clear?

4. Credibility: How do we make people believe?

5. Emotions: How do we make them care?

6. Stories: How do we get them to take action?

Keep this 6 principles in mind when you create your next green message or campaign. Make it stick!

The 4 Skills Environmentalists Need To Learn – FACT

July 11, 2019 by  
Filed under Insights

The 4 skills environmentalists need to learn are FACT – Forgiveness, Accountability, Clarity, and Thick-skinned.

1. Forgiveness

The first skill environmentalists need to learn is forgiveness, both forgiving others and forgiving yourself.

Some people in the environmental movement demand that others subscribe to their beliefs and are angry and upset when people behave irresponsibly. This leads to frustration and the lack of empathy when dealing with people whom they deem as “destroying” the environment. To change people, start forgiving them for their actions, and don’t put them down or be critical. We need to build trust with humility and empathy.

Some environmentalists put the burden of saving the environment on their shoulders. They feel guilt and shame when they forget to bring their own reusable bag or fail to finish their food. Their whole life revolves around doing the right thing, and being “answerable” to other environmentalists. They tend to burnout or be depressed over time.

We need to forgive ourselves and not take it too hard. We are not perfect so give ourselves a break. Try to focus on systemic actions that has greater impact, instead of beating ourselves over the inability to fit our waste into a jar. We don’t need a few people to do everything for the environment, we need a lot more people to do something for the environment.

2. Accountability

The second skill environmentalists need to learn is accountability, being responsible in what we say and do.

We need to be careful in the pursuit of environmental awareness and knowledge, we should not be misled or blinded by false environmental claims or “the sky is falling” scenarios. By learning about environmental issues from reliable sources that are supported with data or references, we can then judge for ourselves on the validity of the environmental problems and the possible solutions. It is too easy to exaggerate facts and mislead the public, especially when it involves technical or scientific issues.

Being environmentalists does not give us the license to exaggerate, mislead, or strike fear among the public. As we state our stand on environmental issues and encourage others to take action, it is important to base it not only on our convictions but also based on facts and adopting a constructive and positive mindset.

3. Clarity

The third skill environmentalists need to learn is clarity, which requires careful thought and self-awareness to be clear about the future, what you want to do, and how to get there.

Seek clarity on the sustainable future you wish to see and what you want to do to create that future. Understand that the future is not something that happens to us, we create the future. Have a clear vision, strategy, role, goals and targets, and work towards them over time. Take a long view but still be flexible to pivot and feel the stones while you cross the river.

Sometimes environmentalists are not clear what they wish to see and what they what to do. They demand things to change overnight without understanding the context, habits and process needed. They chase after a “hot” environmental problem one day and move to other “popular” problems the next day, thus never putting in the time and systemic actions required to solve the problem. They want to do everything yet end up doing nothing. They have lots of actions and stories to tell on social media, yet no impact to show on the ground.

Learn to seek clarity by asking yourself these questions:

What exactly is the future you wish to see and what are you trying to achieve? What’s your vision, strategy, role, goals and targets?

How do you measure and track to make sure you are meeting your goals and targets? Do you want to see real impacts? How serious are you? How long are you willing to work on it and commit?

Do you really understand the problems or the solutions that you are proposing? Do you know the difference between the root or symptoms of the problem? Do you understand context?

Do you need a team or money to do it? What resources or advice do you need? Are you duplicating the work already done by others, and how can you add value to existing work?

4. Thick-skinned

The fourth skill that environmentalists need to learn is to be thick-skinned, not just take criticisms from people against the environmental movement, but especially against people who believe in the environmental movement and think they have THE solution and criticise your actions as ineffective.

There is no ONE solution to solve our mess, instead there is a portfolio of solutions that demand actions from various stakeholders at different stages. Help those who are along the same sustainability journey. The journey is long, everybody appreciates an ally, not an asshole.

7 questions to ask yourself before starting environmental projects or initiatives

September 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Insights

For those starting environmental projects/initiatives (especially young people), ask yourselves these questions before you start:

1) What exactly are you trying to do or achieve? What’s your goals/objectives?

2) How do you measure and track to make sure you are meeting your goals/objectives?

3) How serious are you? Do you want to see real impacts, have fun, or meet school requirements?

4) How long are you willing to work on it and commit? 3 months, 1 year or 10 years?

5) Do you really understand the problems or the solutions that you are proposing? Do you know the difference between content and context?

6) Do you need a team or money to do it? What resources or advice do you need?

7) Are you duplicating the work already done by existing groups or the government? Is there a need to duplicate the work, and what/how can you value add or improve upon existing work?

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