Lift Review: The great disruption: how the climate crisis will transform the global economy
The great disruption: how the climate crisis will transform the global economy
Paul Gilding, 2011
There are many books and films telling us that our world as we know it is coming to an end. This one does too – but in a very wise and balanced way: the world as we know it is unhealthy and harmful, so we need to change our ways to make it a better one, and avoid the worst possibilities.
The author refers us back to books and activists in the past, as far back as Thoreau (1817-1862), Rachel Carson in 1962, ‘The Limits to Growth’ in 1972 – and many more who should have been heeded earlier, when it would have been easier to transition to a more comfortable world.
He became an activist at 17, in the anti-apartheid campaigns, so he knows what can be effective. In his working life he has been a labour union organiser, a member of the Australian military, a fulltime antinuclear campaigner, joined Greenpeace and become the CEO of Greenpeace Australia, attended many international conferences including the Earth Summit 2002, and then set up Ecos, a consultancy which worked with some of the world’s largest corporations, hardwiring sustainability into their business planning. This project is just one example of an achiever who does not simply attack a group or activity for causing the problem – he finds ways to get them to change themselves, in their policies and practice. This is based on his conviction that no matter how vividly a picture is painted of the coming crisis caused by climate change, most people are not going to feel empowered to take action until it hits them in their pockets – then they will seriously consider changes in their lifestyles and priorities and investments.
Gilding cites World War II as an example of our capacity to respond to a crisis when forced to. He believes that a war-like response is required now. “Over the years of World War II, we saw rapidly decreasing inequality, decreasing individual consumption, decreasing material living standards, and yet rapidly increasing public health, and all with a huge degree of public support. Life expectancy during World War II for civilians increased at more than twice the rate of any other years in the twentieth century even as so much death surrounded them.”
The book is full of examples of what is needed and how it can be achieved, in such a way that I simply had to keep reading.
Optimism is a key component of his work as a motivator and as a writer. “Hope is a stance. It’s a belief system I choose to work within, because it’s more effective - it makes me feel better. And most importantly, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela did not win their particular movements by advocating despair.” And this book excels in providing examples of changes already being made, that create hope, and energy, in the reader.
This makes it a “must-read”!