Let’s Just Sell the Sun.

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The stars that shine are yours and mine
The rainbows in the sky are yours and mine

 The song of springtime
The lullaby of Fall

The sunshine of summertime Belong to us all

 The moon above Is yours and mine

The right to fall in love Is yours and mine

The hope of finding the dream

Our hearts desire

All this is Yours and mine

                        Yours and Mine – Billie Holiday

 

If the intent is to save capitalism at all costs, Let’s Just Give The Sun to the Oil Companies.

They already assume they own the right to the earth.

Before you dismiss this absolutely mad idea consider the dilemma – this is for the whole, habitable, Blue Marble.

When I happened upon this essay from Chris Agnos, so many pieces fell in place, I was spinning.

Of course expert economists, industrialists, investment bankers and politicians will dismiss it without a second thought. But, consider this; it was Winston Churchill as Admiral of the British Navy, who had the foresight to retool the entire British fleet from coal-fueled, steam engine technology, in anticipation of Hitler’s stirrings of fascism1 , to save the free world.

And what’s the difference? Capitalists2 already believe in major ownership of at least one body in our solar system. But for at least two reasons, selling solar radiation is a brilliant idea.

One, It challenges the very idea of who even owns the earth – and the right to poison the water, air and health of all and everything that live here?

And two, by selling (or leasing) this solar resource, owned by all humanity, it just could provide a critical mechanism to peacefully unwind fossil fuel reserves, leases and investment infrastructure.

And why not? We sell off and mine the Earth, corporate satellites orbit our atmosphere and futurists envision someday mining asteroids and planetary objects (if we are still around).

So let’s call the energy industry’s bluff and offer to buy out their leases and devalued assets. Let’s call the Sun, Humanity’s Capital (it always was). Have this fund our climate change obligations to make island nations, indigenous cultures, coastal cities, farming, fishing and displaced fossil fuel industry communities and nations – resilient.

Finally, if the (US Secretary of State and fmr. Exxon CEO) Rex Tillerson, wants to talk to Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur and US Presidential advisor) about a deal with the rest of humanity along with every other sun-rich and even petroleum-rich nation…we might be willing to consider it.

 

References:

1 The Quest David Yergin

2 Capital In the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty

Let’s Just Give the Sun to the Oil Companies is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Chris Agnos and ChrisAgnos.com.

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Think small (again).

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In semi-defense of advertising on Earth Day.

On his passing The New York Times wrote this headline;

Julian Koenig, Who Sold Americans on Beetles and Earth Day, Dies at 93.

To be the Guy who came up with Earth Day and Think Small is a remarkable legacy. At the time of seeing the first photos of our home planet in full, Joni Mitchell singing Woodstock, passage of civil rights legislation and The Wilderness Act, we had enough time then, to heed scientist’s major warnings of climate change and much to feel hopeful for.

Somehow along the way the virtue of sharing and simplicity became passé. But more recently, perhaps of necessity, a younger generation is discovering the practicality of less is more, as in a deeper connection to things they value.

Creative people like Julian and the other writers and art directors of the Mad Men era managed to make wit, the desired commodity.

I’d like to believe enough of us want to see our country and the world stop the climate catastrophe and that this crisis will awaken the necessary response. That wit, talent and simple honesty will reappear with sufficient force now that we need it most.

Advertising is a changed business as much as any other today in one very important way. Corporations no longer see their main purpose to serve the best interests of customers or country, at least in the main. And to be fair there are philanthropic aspects of commerce and market efficiencies are sought. But no surprise here – profits trump humanity. And that has no place in a quarterly earnings statement – the businessperson’s report card. The only reason to be green is if it makes money.

A t-shirt my daughter bought me during the Gap RED campaign reads;

 WHAT WE
COLLECTIVELY
CHOOSE 2 BUY,
OR NOT 2 BUY CAN
CHANGE THE
COUR$E
OF LIFE
& HISTORY
ON THIS
PLANET.

 Change buy to sell and It should hang in every corporate boardroom.

You might say social engineering has been what advertising has been up to all along unwittingly having arrived at this frightful moment. And though pundits rail at the suggestion of “mind-control” mankind is quite capable of creating a successful response to energy use. With cleverness, persuasion, improvisation, fury, love, faith, comedy, art, science, music and every motivational tool and a whole lot more than good intentions.

Industrial nations must confront their primary role in undertaking the planet’s sixth extinction and find ways to dramatically alter a consumptive civilization. Especially in light of the developing world’s emergence and expectations of a planet-wide consumer culture.

Since the Second World War there have been a great many PSA (Public Service Announcements). Advertisers leap at the opportunity to be authors of them.

"We can do it!" Rosie the Riveter Poster smokey_poster Save a Planet

 

Classic campaigns from the Ad Council and one of mine for the Time Environmental Challenge.

 

climatenamechange.org

 

One of The Guardian top 10 climate change campaigns.

Where to begin?

“This is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers this morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you might find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

— Joseph Campbell

Did the Peoples Climate March matter?

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At the time did the various protests for racial equality, women’s suffrage, labor rights, anti-war, bring about change?

Yes — and not completely, immediately or globally.

Although all of these causes, while intolerably endured, even to this day – the marchers recognized a common cause, to take immediate action for a habitable earth.

To say, you had to be there, is more than a saying when the stakes are the demise of the only climate that nurtured Homo sapiens and we have ever known. You can’t just be a bystander.

But what immediate action?

How could it be that we demand political action, corporate leadership, human rights, a scientific certainty and a total remaking of the world’s energy infrastructure – immediately – but not change our own consumptive habits? (Not to discount that all this needs to happen).

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The miles-long march was divided into segments: People most effected, Building the future, Solutions, Who’s responsible, The debate’s over, To change everything we need everyone.

At the climate march I walked behind the large banner of “We Have The Solutions” with my 24-6 Boycott sign. Near me was the only group that suggested individuals do anything to use less energy – Vegetarians. One vocal woman handing out Go Vegan flyers, rightly, but a bit forcefully, proclaimed there is no better way for an individual to reduce atmospheric carbon than to not eat meat. (You had to love their enthusiasm). I goaded her a bit asking if it was ok to just do meatless Mondays. At first she resisted “No, no, no. You have to only eat plants!” But her friends consoled me with “That would be a good start.” and she encouraged that.

That is how 24-6 works. One day a week off the grid. Something we can do immediately to change energy consumption – right now.

It becomes a little through the looking glass epiphany to experience a different possibility. We can all do things – actual fun, joyful, simple, liberating things – this week – just for yourself without waiting for anyone to tell you what to do or wait for anyone else to make it happen.

Heading the opposite way when everyone was heading home I saw only one — one lanky young guy holding his solitary message scrawled on a torn piece of cardboard; “Consume Less”.

I think it was directed to us climate marchers.

Yes we are long past small, individual actions but the banner to wrap up the march stated; “To change everything it takes everyone. My carbon footprint for walking all day in this uber-passionate, carnival of a climate protest, was pretty much zero.

The enormity of the crisis is dispiriting but the possibilities seen in New York City that day were inspiring.

Steve Mitsch

Sunday Paper

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Sunday Paper

If only a kid on his bike delivered our Sunday paper, it would be a perfect example of how easy it is time spent off the grid. Instead, the delivery woman arrives in her aging Honda probably earning little more relative to what I earned as a boy.

The New York Times is a treasure of a newspaper contrary to the fulmination of those who prefer hardened ideologies. Of course there seems to be a bias that favors their readers but, regular contributors and stories give a wide range of perspectives – even to a fault – to present positions contrary to the weight of consensus science or in politics – the rush to war.

The declared mission of the newspaper, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” is both true and a kind of pun. It can take the whole day to read and it’s a huge and varied tome.

The pages of The Times display everything imaginable, from exclusive advertisers of palatial home sales to stories of refugees, or advertisements for hundred thousand dollar watches to news of the minimum hourly wage. I’d be surprised if I’m the only person not feeling whiplashed and suffering a kind of extreme mood disorder.

How does it all make sense when taken all together?

It takes time to absorb information and let it play on the subconscious compared to the distractions we confront daily. Perhaps see our own life in a larger context. In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman relates that, compared to various academic experts, attentive readers a publication like The New York Times, are reasonably good at reading emerging situations.

It does help to go deeply to inform my choices and for that I am grateful to the journalists, editors and advertisers that support this, unusually rare independent institution. A functioning democracy depends on it and us to be well informed.

As New Media has upended virtually every enterprise, it is reassuring that in this Digital Age this newspaper ranks in about the top 5 news websites.

Spending a Sunday engaged in one place along with 2.3 million other NY Times readers is a delightful way to recharge.

Sunday readers instead of Sunday drivers. That could save a good deal of carbon emissions.

Now if kids on bikes could feel the heft wouldn’t that be a sight?

Fracking Comes Home

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My apartment complex has been rigging an elaborate looking connection to the town gas line over the last several months. It’s an optional fuel source for heat and hot water.

What’s interesting, besides the economic reprieve from higher heating costs, is the Rube Goldberg contraption. I remarked to the utility inspector that the thing looks like a wellhead and he chimed, “That’s right where it’s coming from”.

When I pass them I can hear the reassuring hiss of fuel delivering us the warmth inside, or conversely I hear a relentless mocking telling me “Of courssse you want thisss.

Ordinarily these essays are about what we do when taking a weekly day off the grid but thought it worth mentioning. Besides, I’ve been working from home for a while and walk a ’lot. (That really does save a lot of running around).

Energy workers have a point when they tell us; if we like to cook they need to drill. The director of Gasland, Josh Fox, said those of us opposed to unconventional energy, including fracking, cannot just be against something – we have to be for something. What we ought to be fighting for is an all-out speedy transition to safe renewable energy and all the prosperity that will generate – forever!

Why aren’t oil and gas companies transitioning to sustainable energy companies? The oil tycoon, T. Boone Pickens, placed an enormous bet on wind energy and lost a fortune. He argues that American oil and gas companies are the best at what they do and I guess in a way that’s supposed to be reassuring. But that’s the problem if it’s unbridled capitalism – bottom line it’s simply best at one thing only – profiting.

Originally, Congress assigned rights of incorporation requiring they not exceed their authority or cause public harm. It was at our nation’s discretion they were allowed to serve!

The lauded former industry titan/climate change skeptic, Jack Welsh, presided at General Electric during the deregulation era of the 1980’s. I got a sense of his zeal for Darwinian Capitalism working on computer services advertising for the company – the same year our ad agency helped launch the Apple Macintosh computer.

In the intervening years the stocks of both companies would have made you comfortable (if you could have owned them). Point is, not long after, Steve Jobs needed to leave his own company until the world caught up to his vision, and he and Apple earned largest valuation of every company on the planet, blah, blah, blah.

It’s as good a lesson to take away with regard to the fossil fuel industry. If Jack Welsh supports the conviction that giving consumers the environmentally friendly goods they seek, his reasons seem unapologetically cynical or a damming truth that business responds to consumer demand.

“There’s an enormous opportunity…whether you believe in global warming or not…If you’re in a company, you’d better be pushing those (green) products because the world wants these products.

– Jack Welsh, Fresh Dialogues Interview Series with Alison van Diggelen, May 12, 2009

A delightful GE commercial several years back had creatures in the jungle dancing to Singing in the Rain and stated “Water that’s more pure.”­ – this after spending years and several-hundred-million dollars fighting the EPA requirement to remove their factory’s toxic waste in New York’s Hudson River. Translation; We can make money even when we help cause the problem.

Businesses must protect stockholders and profits until the time comes their actions become unprofitable.

Corporate missions need people to guide their immediate and long range decisions. And the campaign to divest investments in the fossil fuel industry will lead them into the future.

Especially if we, each carbon-based human, reduce our carbon-based energy consumption and help them get their heads out of the ground!

Incredible things happen when we used our boycotts and purchases to dissent. They help mitigate racism, human suffering and destruction of our environment.

The goal of practicing 24-6 is to slow this corrupting process. Everyone take a day off the grid. Earn your own “carbon credits”.

Surely there will be unintended consequences if we all start doing this. Lower energy costs seem to increase usage for one. That makes alternatives costly. But it is something each of us can actually do for ourselves and our childrens’ children.