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Welcome to the Post-Carbon World

Why do some planets survive their carbon crises and others don’t? A plan for how ours could.

BUILDINGS

Carbon-neutral homes and elegant towers

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ELECTRICITY

Sun or coal, wind or nukes? You get to vote.

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TRANSPORTATION

Feet, bikes, buses, and an all-electric fleet.

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FOOD & FORESTS

Changes from the ground up

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Between Panic and Denial. Photo by Zach Kyle and Paul Dunn for YES! Magazine
Between panic and denial is a place where forward-thinking people have been working for many years—real solutions for a sustainable world. Photo by Zach Kyle and Paul Dunn for YES! Magazine

It doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Buildings, electricity production, transportation, and food & forestry contribute the bulk of the greenhouse gases. But climate-friendly options are ready. Author Guy Dauncey takes us out of this world as we begin to imagine some down-to-earth solutions.

 

Apollo to Earth: Houston, we’re reporting a major carbon overload in the atmosphere. You’re going to suffer serious overheating if you don’t get it under control.

Earth to Apollo: We hear you. We spotted it 20 years ago, but the White House tells us not to worry and keeps cutting our budget. Any bright ideas?

Apollo to Earth: Hello, Houston? We have an inter-esting development here. We’re getting clear visual signals, and they’re not from Earth. Can you give us five minutes? …You’re not going to believe this, but it’s true: we’re not alone. We’re being fed material- from something called the Intergalactic Archives. They say that the warming crisis is quite normal on planets that have a large store of fossilized energy. They recommend a rapid switch to simple energy, starting with the sun, wind, earth, and ocean. They’re also telling us not to wait too long!

Earth to Apollo: You’re creating quite a stir down here, Apollo. But that aside, how long do we have? There’s talk of an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050—will that cut it?

Apollo to Earth: ‘Fraid not, Houston. They’re saying 25 years, max, and similar planets that failed to make the switch suffered a 15 percent loss rate—total civilizational and ecological meltdown. Not a pretty picture. Ten million years for partial ecological recovery. You really don’t want to go there, sir.

Earth to Apollo: Any advice that might help us?

Apollo to Earth: Yes. It seems that the planets that went down panicked. The Archives show that advanced intelligences get energized by vision, not fear. It’s like football, sir—you win by determination and passion, not by reducing failure. The planets that failed forgot how to work together. Inspiration stopped, and the breakthroughs dried up. As the panic took over, people started hoarding and stopped believing in the future. Once that happened it was effectively all over, even though it took a couple of hundred years.

Earth to Apollo: You’ve got us rattled here, Apollo. Do they show any turnarounds? Any planets that were going down, that somehow made it?

Apollo to Earth: Yes—many. The Archives show that successful planets transformed their carbon crises into positive evolutionary leaps. They stopped blaming and started appreciating the intellectual capital that fossil fuels had given them, enabling them to develop solar and geothermal power. They stopped being fearful and defensive, and worked together to achieve a rapid transition. By re-igniting the creative impulse, they made the switch to new technologies and lifestyles far more easily.

Earth to Apollo: Thanks, Apollo. Seems we’ve got our work cut out down here. Over and out!


Guy Dauncey wrote this article as part of Stop Global Warming Cold, the Spring 2008 issue of YES! Magazine. Guy is a speaker, organizer, consultant, and author with Patrick Mazza of Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change, New Society Publishers. Photo of Guy Dauncey
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