Live long and prosper. It is time to embrace all the possibilities of a livable future world. Dystopia has its place, but its not family conversation. Instead the dinner-table talk and imaginings we need to have are of a post-hydrocarbon future. By envisioning it, we will make it real and possible. By envisioning a less destructive space for humans in nature, we re-enliven the natural world and re-enliven agency – both nature’s and ours. Sound like Utopia? Well, it’ll be one with constrained resources, where we connect present action to future consequences.
The Youth4ClimateAction marches and Oceans Not Oil ‘direct action interventions’ are filled with future leaders – creative, intelligent, dynamic people who understand economic, social, and environmental policies and practices that contribute to climate change – who see massive possibilities for change. This overview means they value disruption and dissent. For some it is the only option after tasting the deprivations from moral bankruptcy, crony capitalism that has benefited only a small minority. They’ve seen and grown quickly tired of a political elite everywhere sitting on their hands.
The dominant narrative is shifting to shared agency, a partnership ethic that asks, How are we going to dismantle this system, seedbed of destructive ‘isms’ – colonialism, imperialism, racism, sexism and extractivism?
Drawing on ignored and minimised stories of care, these young people have begun one of the hardest battles a human can fight:- not conforming to the system’s wisdom for their future. These young leaders have recognised they are agents for change. They reject the ‘master’ identity that has been so destructive in our culture, in ourselves, and in political and economic structures, and primarily in our attitude to nature. They are active and intentional in who they are in the world, effecting change.
The Oceans Not Oil campaign is privileged to be supported by young minds who ask, Who is drawing the plotting lines across our ocean commons? Who mitigates by ‘dilution of pollution’? Whose livelihoods count? Sustainable for whom? Knowing petro-economics and energy has its origins in colonial and neo-colonial histories and political acts, these young leaders recognise its claims of poverty alleviation and economic development to be illegitimate. What and who pushed us over the brink of planetary boundaries is/are not going to get us through the transition to Net Zero emissions.
We are running out of time. Our sense of purpose will come from finding solutions together. Solutions will be found through dialogue. Competencies will need to be inclusive, transpersonal, principled, broadening knowledge, transforming self and others for effective action, building trust to collectively shift direction away from our present ‘petro-stuckness’.
We all have a responsibility to offer young leadership all the hands, humour, insight and creativity we can muster in the era of great adjustment.