Our brain power

A weapon in fighting for the Earth

If you recently heard Guy McPherson speak ­— or read Richie Davis’s article called “What Will it Take? Climate changes already dire,” in The Recorder about McPherson’s talk — like me, you are likely bummed, angry or paralyzed.

The scientific reports that he cited of methane, an incredibly strong greenhouse gas, escaping from melting permafrost and warming oceans were incredibly frightening! So what can we do? Put our heads in the sand? As McPherson pointed out, if we do that, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy and life, as we know it, will end, perhaps sooner than we had previously thought.

Fortunately, some rays of hope arrived in the form of a book. “The Watchman’s Rattle,” by Rebecca Costa, is a fascinating account of how our brains work or don’t, and why past civilizations have collapsed because of our brain’s inability to deal with societal complexity and environmental pressures such as drought. We simply haven’t evolved our brains fast enough to be able to process the incredible amount of new data coming at us every minute!

The author offered two rays of hope to me. One is that our brains, while lagging behind in the data processing function, have the unique capability of “insight.” These are ideas, often solutions, that come to us and use a completely different part of our brains than right-or-left brain thinking. These out-of-the-box, game-changing insights are what can move us past seemingly impossible situations. Costa gives many inspiring examples!

Another insight she offered is that we need to adopt the business model of a venture capitalist. She explained that a venture capitalist expects 30 percent of their investments to fail, 50 percent to do so-so, and 20 percent to be wild successes. They don’t really care about the failures, they focus on the successes! Warren Buffet has affirmed that the 1 percent will keep investing.

So, what about climate change? Costa’s advice is to seek insights and act like a venture capitalist — try everything!

Following is a list of some things I’m going to try. I encourage you to share your ideas with friends and family, in the Recorder, during Greenfield’s Sustainable Master Planning process, on Greening Greenfield’s or Western Massachusetts Permaculture listservs — in short, at every possible opportunity!

So here goes, my top three ideas of what I will do to try and cut climate change emissions, while reducing poverty and improving our economy.

First, on a national, government level, I will advocate for the creation of a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), like Roosevelt did in the 1930s. This time it will focus on cutting energy use in buildings. This strategy is a win, win, win, win, win.

◆ It creates jobs and puts money in the pockets of the unemployed;

◆ It puts money in the pockets of residents and businesses that pay utility bills;

◆ It puts money in the federal coffers via taxes;

◆ It will reduce oil imports and the trade deficit;

◆ It will cut climate change emissions since 40 percent of our climate change emissions come from energy used in building.

Where do we find the funds and resources to do this? The military. As with the CCC, get the military involved!

Second, join Bill McKibben’s effort to keep fossil fuels in the ground where they belong. McKibben is the 350.org guy. His “do the math” campaign urges us to pressure the fossil fuel giants by getting rid of our investments in fossil fuels. The campaign is focused on college campuses and Allen Davis opened a door for me the other day when he asked, “Are you an alum from a college? If yes, you can be part of this effort!” I have also asked my financial adviser to sell all investments I have in fossil fuels.

Third, locally, I will continue to work with the Greenfield Energy Smart Homes program and Greening Greenfield to help everyone reduce their use of fossil fuels and save money by helping them find funds to do energy upgrades to their homes. Recently, I attended what I hope is the first of many neighborhood meetings to help spread the word. It was held at Rob and Louise Amyot’s home at Madison Circle. Sandy and Russ Thomas will host the next one for the Orchard Street neighborhood. I’ll also work on the Sustainable Master Plan.

So let’s go to war! What shall we call it? The war on climate change? The war on fossil fuels? Or the war on poverty? OR should the slogan be invest in PEOPLE not wars?

Please share your out-of-the-box thinking and what you will do — and let’s try everything! If you want to host a neighborhood meeting, please contact me at 774-5667, or Carrie Petrik-Huff, Energy Smart Homes coordinator at 413-772-1389. Together, we can make a difference.

Nancy Hazard is the former director of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) and the Tour de Sol, America’s Green Car Festival and Competition. She can be reached at nhazard@WorldSustain.net.

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