Friday, July 09, 2010

'Coalition of the Willing': a post-Copenhagen call to action

Global discourse on the climate change issue reached a peak at the end of last year with the meeting of world leaders in Copenhagen. It was rather adventurously sold in much of the media (British at least) as 'a last chance to save the world from ourselves'.

Of course, in the end nothing of any substance was agreed - it would have required a concerted, multilateral effort for the leaders of the most polluting countries to go against their seemingly natural instincts and change course from policies of continuous economic growth to one of systemic and philosophical overhaul. Also, the leak of emails from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia - rightly or wrongly - changed the conversation away from what was happening to the planet to whether the canaries in the coalmine could be trusted in what they were saying.

Since then and against the backdrop of the frailty of global economic recovery, the issue of climate change seems to have largely taken a back seat on the international stage.

In light of this development in the 'end of the world' narrative that has largely defined our times, I was intrigued to recently come across the above video. Titled 'Coalition Of The Willing', the film boldly aims to re-seize the initiative lost following Copenhagen and inspire people to bypass governments by taking matters into their own hands. Produced by Knife Party, this collaborative venture is a pretty remarkable piece of animation in its own right, irrespective of the message. The wide range of styles nevertheless hang together well as a cohesive whole.

The message of the film is simple yet complex - by harnessing the power of the internet, peoples of the world should sidestep their leaders and come together to solve the problems of adapting to climate change or changing consumptive lifestyles towards more sustainable ends. It takes a largely uncritical view of the Western social revolutions of the 1960s, recommending them as a blueprint for the future whilst wrapping them up in the buzzwords of our digital age - open source, swarming, Linux, etc. Timothy Leary's maxim of the psychedelic era ('turn on, tune in, and drop out') is updated for our times with an invocation to 'log on, converge and swarm'.

'Coalition of the Willing' proposes the setting up of a network of three websites as a step forward towards these goals. Although it might have been even more effective had the film been a vehicle to announce the launch of said sites, the appeal that it contains is bound to encourage some steps in that direction - after all, the internet often seems like a place big enough for a good idea eventually to germinate somewhere or somehow.

In case a reminder is needed of why a change of course is badly needed (and thus prompters like the above film can only be a good thing), the pictures below give a slight flavour of what the human addiction to fossil fuels has done to the Gulf of Mexico.

All photos issued under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

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