A Brighter Future

Forge the Future #58 - Pondering what the future holds, and how to inspire change

Welcome to Forge the Future, your weekly guide to all things climate. 

XR NYC are starting a new campaign tackling the link between oil companies and the tech companies providing them services. More attention on this issue is definitely needed, given that several of the firms have made big noises on their commitment to the environment. XR have also issued a statement recognising the privilege of their tactics of mass arrest, and promising improvement and adjustments in tactics. It’s good to see them take this on board, and hopefully it will help to make their activism more welcoming for all who want to make their voice heard.

State of the Climate

CO2 levels this week: 415.35 ppm
This time last year: 413.76 ppm

Now that the numbers are in, it will surprise no one that Arctic Siberia hit record temperatures in June, with the region more than 5°C above normal throughout June. Temperatures deviated further from the historical average there than anywhere else on the planet. In the US, the southwest’s monsoon is running late, increasing the risk of dry lightning, a major risk for starting wildfires.

Torrential rains in southern China have left millions without homes, and caused massive economic losses. Precipitation this year is double to triple normal levels, and flooding has become an ever increasing problem in recent years. Kyushu in Japan was also hit by rain, causing floods and mudslides that have killed at least 44 in the worst disaster since Typhoon Hagibis late last year.

A new study has shed light on a strange ‘cold blob’ south of Greenland. Whilst the world has on average risen by 1°C over the past century, this area has cooled by around 0.9°C. However, this study has linked it to a combination of factors, from a weakening of warming ocean currents, changes in high-latitude ocean circulation and more. The work, mostly performed through climate models, clearly attributes the area to anthropogenic climate change.

The climate is a complex and massive problem, and the campaign to save it can feel hopeless at times. There’re so many interrelated battles to be fought, and it often seems that even if we push as hard as we can, and collectively do everything right, we’ll still end up failing. Climate messaging has become ever clearer, backed by undeniable science, and yet much of the wider public is reluctant to take action, despite clear support in surveys and polls.

To my mind, good arguments have a carrot and a stick, and at the moment it feels like the climate movement is nearly all stick. The threats are growing larger, and many folks are starting to feel the real world impacts of climate change around the world. That can be seen in the results of those surveys - people are waking up to the fact that the world needs to change, and something needs to be done. But when it comes to what, and how, I feel like the message is a bit fuzzy.

Part of this is perhaps due to the politicisation of climate change - it’s now strongly associated with the left, and thus in many minds a greener world means a world of socialism. But I feel like because so much of the message is about what we can’t have - we can’t have internal combustion cars, we can’t have aviation - we end up with a message that’s all negatives. I’m reminded of comments about the UK, my home country, around the Brexit vote - we know what we don’t want, but we don’t know what we do. 

There are voices painting a brighter vision however - the solarpunk movement is a particular favourite of mine - and I think we should do all we can to elevate these mindsets. More voices from all walks of life promoting the benefits of a greener, more sustainable future can only be a good thing. One of the reasons I think Elon Musk has captured the public imagination, for all his personal failings, is that he makes the future seem exciting and sci-fi. It’s all electric cars and hyperloops and tunnels and AI (albeit with an unhealthy dose of megalomania).

I’m certainly not advocating that we all join the church of Musk, but I’ve certainly been thinking more on how to promote and build towards a brighter future in my own work. Maybe it’s just a matter of perspective, but shaping a positive world feels more energising than avoiding a negative one, though they are just alternate sides of the same coin. I’d like to make Forge the Future part of that movement, and I hope to share more with you soon on what that will look like.

News Highlights

US vs the Climate

Other News

Long Reads

The End Times

That’s all I have for you this week. As always, thanks for reading, and if you’ve any feedback or suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them (you can reach me at oli@forgethefuture.com). If you feel like sharing this, I’d massively appreciate it!

Stay safe, and see you next week,


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