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Radical Climate Action presentation at University of Otago

5.15–6.30pm Wednesday 14 August, Archway 3 lecture theatre, corner of Leith Walk and Union St East, University of Otago

This will be an opportunity to hear courses of action on climate change not often discussed.

Prof Richard Jackson, director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflicts Studies, will speak on the necessity for activism to become more mainstream (to reach the tipping point of 3.5% of the population). This is necessary due to the formidable challenges we face, namely the billion dollar industries that are the major contributors to GHG emissions. To face this challenge people need leverage, otherwise demands are almost like empty threats. We need to scare politicians more than the powerful polluting industries and losing the next elections. We need that kind of leverage, and the only leverage people have is activism – activism for a reformed economy. That is, people will have to seriously start thinking about organised, peaceful disobedient action, and see hope only in fundamentally changing the way we live.

Jackson states:

My talk will attempt to make the case that we cannot wait for anyone else or anything else to save us. Politics can’t save us, the market won’t save us, education won’t save us, and individual action won’t save us. What the research tells us is that we need collective nonviolent action to force through the kind of radical changes we need to mitigate the coming climate disaster. However, it’s not just any kind of nonviolent resistance that we need; the kind of actions employed in the past likely won’t work today because they have been pacified. What is needed is a dual strategy based on disruptive rebellion, and the simultaneous construction of alternative social and economic systems.

Prof Jim Flynn will argue that it is prudent to begin research into marine cloud brightening – making oceanic clouds whiter with ocean spray to reflect back heat – since it has potential to be a temporary measure to buy us more time to reduce our emissions and switch to renewable energy. Whiter clouds could slow down the temperature increase and push back the point of no return, but research could take several years so must begin soon. Flynn also argues for more research into fusion power for post-2050 to accommodate the predicted 11 billion people, who will all want a decent standard of living. Though it must be stressed that Flynn's is not a solely technical solution; technology only plays a part, perhaps a vital one.

These are radical ideas. The talk intends to bring them into discussion and have people engage with them.

While both speakers have different views, both Jackson and Flynn agree that political and economic solutions alone will not save us. Formal political and economic processes will contribute some benefit but they won't be enough. Which is not to discount other solutions – they are all necessary. Jackson’s and Flynn’s proposals are presented as not replacing existing plans for mitigation and adaptation but to be added to them. They will argue that their positions are reasoned and measured, only very much outside the box.

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