Below is my submission for the first assigment in Terra.do's Climate Change: Learning for Action course. The task for the assignment was:
Imagine that it is the year 2040, the world has largely resolved the climate crisis, and you have been invited back to the Terra.do online community to share about your role in helping make that happen. Follow the prompts to create a blog post or short video about yours and the world's trajectory between 2022 and 2040.
Here's my submission:
I want to thank Terra.do for having me back after all these years to share the story of my climate journey. It was a privilege to be involved with such a groundbreaking climate educational organisation, and am so grateful for the support of my teachers and fellows.
To prepare for this presentation I looked back through my old journals to try to remember what my thoughts were about climate 18 years ago. I found this entry, dated January 20th 2022:
We know what the problem is; the science is irrefutable. We know how to fix it. So why are we sitting on our arses, repeating the same behaviours we know to contribute to climate change?. Who are we to steal from our children and future generations by being lazy and passive? Who is responsible is irrelevant, we all have to own it and step up to the plate.
Not long after this was written I started on Terra.do's Climate Change: Learning for Action course. It was one of the most enlightening periods of my life. Something I always remember from those first few weeks of the Terra course, something that shaped my approach to work and life from then on, was this quote from Robert Anton Wilson:
The future is up for grabs. It belongs to any and all who will take the risk and accept the responsibility of consciously creating the future they want.
These words resonated with me, gripping me at my core. It was then that I decided to dedicate my life to making a difference, not just making a living. Climate change was the most critical crisis humanity had ever faced and I was going to do whatever I could to help.
At the time I had very little understanding of climate change or how I could make a meaningful impact. I went about learning as much as I could: I did the Terra.do course, read books and research papers, attended meetups and conferences, and I studied how my field, computer science, could be applied to help solve the problem. Together with some colleagues I started a company called Yvant, focused exclusively on climate change. I had no clue how to build a business or what we would do, I just knew we had to do something.
As a company we flopped around like a fish out of water for a long time, not knowing where to direct our energy. We were so eager to help but we just didn't know how, and really struggled to find our first project. This period was one of the most difficult in my professional career. At times I felt like giving up and instead taking the known, well-beaten corporate path. Thankfully we did eventually land our first client which got the ball rolling.
At Yvant we found our niche building ultra-efficient software and infrastructure, helping organisations cut energy usage by up to 80%. We opened-sourced all of our work which led to widespread adoption, significantly reducing demand on the world's growing energy use.
We also built a platform, Share.earth, that allows local neighbourhoods and communities to share, rent and repair tools and equipment safely. The Share.earth platform has been hugely successful, reducing consumption in the areas it is adopted by an estimated 60%.
As a company, and individually, the hardest thing was getting started. The next hardest thing was keeping going. We've had a lot of ups and downs along the way and I'd be lying if I said it was easy, but when you know the why you can accomplish any how. We felt there was no other alternative, business as usual wasn't cutting it.
We always wanted to do things differently at Yvant, and I'm proud to say we did. We formed a worker co-operative where every member has an equal share in how the company is run and how the profits are used. We're all equals. We know the meaning of the word enough, reject the capitalist ideal of growth at all cost, and redirect our profits to projects that further our objectives.
Along the way I gained a voice, and learned to use it. I realised we had to raise more awareness about climate issues, and more importantly, the solutions. So I learned to write and speak in public, to add my voice to the chorus pushing for change. On my blog and Yvant's website I started writing about what I was learning. I spoke at conferences and in meetups about what we were doing as a company and how others could help. I used whatever platform I could to broadcast the message further and louder. This was probably the hardest thing I did because of my fear of public speaking, but it also turned out to be one of the more valuable skills I picked up along the way.
Outside of my career I changed my behaviour to be congruent with world in which I wanted to live. I ate a mostly plant based diet, stopped being flippant and wasteful with food and energy, extended the life of the things I used by repairing and repurposing. I became more conscious of my impact on the world around me. But I also stopped thinking I had to solve the crisis on my own, which helped with climate anxiety. It was, is and always will be a collective effort to take care of the planet in which we share.
As I look back now on my journey and how much we've achieved collectively I am incredibly proud. Proud that we, as a global community, stepped up, took resposibility and action. It just goes to show when we work together anything is possible.
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