Advancing the Movement of Deep Adaptation to our Climate Tragedy – New Governance and Strategy Processes

Message from the Founder, Professor Jem Bendell:

When I launched the Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF) in March 2019, my intention was to enable people to connect with others who shared an unusual and challenging outlook on the future. I could not respond effectively to the deluge of incoming mail that was precipitated by the release of the Deep Adaptation paper, but neither could I ignore the passion and pain being expressed by people from around the world. Therefore, an online network was launched to embody and enable loving approaches to our predicament. I thought that the framework of the ‘4 Rs’ might provide a guide, but the main aim would be to promote dialogue and initiative grounded in the principles of  compassion, curiosity and respect for others. Many volunteers stepped forward in that early stage, and a few donors, and I am very grateful to them. Now the Forum engages around 15,000 people, and supports some of those people to create local groups, give speeches and interviews, steward online discussions, launch initiatives, and facilitate gatherings both in person and online. Over 50 volunteers fuel that activity, with a core team of five freelancers providing support and coordination. Almost a year after launch, it is time for a new phase in the organising of the DAF, so it can better express and nourish what is becoming a global movement of deep adaptation to our climate tragedy. Continue reading “Advancing the Movement of Deep Adaptation to our Climate Tragedy – New Governance and Strategy Processes”

Strategy Options Dialogue for Deep Adaptation

Guest blog from Peter Wicks, a moderator of the Positive Deep Adaptation facebook group and coordinator of the strategy options dialogue.  

“It happened while I was having lunch with a friend. Recently bereaved, I was looking for new ways to engage with the world. My friend said, “Have you heard the term Deep Adaptation?” No, I hadn’t, but it sounded interesting, so when I got back I texted her. “What was the name of that Facebook group you were talking about?”

So I joined the group, and then started wondering. Is this really a group I want to be involved with? I hadn’t yet read Jem’s paper, but I had become aware of his exchange with Jeremy Lent. So I decided to read that exchange from beginning to end, starting with Jem’s paper. That was the clincher. This was definitely a group I wanted to be part of.

I wasn’t just looking for new ways to engage with the world (although I was certainly finding them). I was looking for connection, for help with my own grieving process. And for a way of envisioning the future that wasn’t based on denial of what was actually happening on our planet, but could nevertheless inspire me. Frankly, to give me reason to live, and the motivation to take care of myself. And the Positive Deep Adaptation (PDA) Facebook group played a key role in providing that.

And then I got a message from David Baum asking me, “Do you want to be a moderator?” I didn’t hesitate for one second: it just felt right. So I became a moderator, and then a couple of months later Jem was like, “How about co-ordinating a strategy dialogue?”

“A what?” I asked.

And that question is now in the process of being answered.

From February 29 to April 24 2020, the Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF) Strategy Options Dialogue will convene to look into the following three questions:

  • What range of activities should be pursued under the Deep Adaptation (DA) umbrella, and the different possible rationales for pursuing those activities?
  • What specific role could an emerging international network play in this context, and on what kind of timescale?
  • What are the key strengths of existing structures that can be deployed to serve these objectives (including, possibly, implications regarding organisation, governance, and funding)?

Between the Facebook Positive Deep Adaptation group, the Professions’ Network, and our LinkedIn group, several thousands have now joined us in the international online spaces we created, alongside the 17 local, regional or thematic Deep Adaptation Affiliated Groups that have gathered in response. As many as 15,000 people are now participating in the activities of the DAF as a whole, sharing a multitude of insights and supporting one another in dealing with the grief that comes with realising – in addition to whatever else has been going on in our lives – the extent of our global predicament, and collaborating on various new initiatives around the four Rs of DA: Resilience, Relinquishment, Restoration and Reconciliation.

Through this dialogue, and building on the vast richness of insights and ideas that have been and are being created within and around the DAF, and emerging from our shared hopes, fears and dreams, we hope to generate clear strategic options and ideas for action, and thus assist in the urgent task of clarifying priorities for DA-related activities, and the role that an emerging international network could play.

Ideas from these sessions will then be summarised into a Strategy Options Paper, which the DAF core team will then decide on and implement, subject to availability of funds and in consultation with relevant governance structures (notably the new DAF Holding Group).

At the heart of the dialogue will be a series of online conversations (on Zoom), gently guided by experienced volunteer facilitators through a participative democratic process, and bringing together people with different levels of engagement within the forum: DA volunteers and core team members who have long been active participants, other DAF members who have been less involved up to now, and people from outside the forum that we will invite to join us for some extra wisdom. Each session will happen consecutively over two different time slots, in the hope that people can join in from anywhere in the world, with a maximum of 25 to 30 participants per meeting exploring these questions together with their peers with curiosity and compassion. Interested? Then please don’t hesitate to apply here (right now!) to be involved in this endeavour to help our species be the best we can be in this time of transition.

In addition, written submissions are invited on behalf of groups of volunteers within the DAF ecosystem (i.e. PN volunteers, PDA moderators, PDA Facilitators, DA Advocates, Affiliated Groups). We recommend such submissions are signed off by at least a few volunteers within those groups. Written submissions will not be used to base Zoom conversations on. Instead, they will be listed on a page within the Professions’ Network, to be discussed there. In addition they will be briefly summarised in an annex of the final Strategy Options Paper. The Core Team will therefore respond to the written submissions when they respond to the Strategy Options Paper in Q3 2020. Please send your written submission to the Acting Coordinator, Dorian.

A background document on Deep Adaptation strategy development written by Professor Bendell may be of interest if you decide to participate in the process.

Thankyou to Diana, Vicky, Kelly, Christian, Dean, Chiara, Kathryn, Dorian and Jem for helping us get to this point of launching the dialogue.

What Activism Next? Ideas for Climate Campaigners

Thank goodness for the honesty of children and youth. In the Madrid summit on climate, Greta Thunberg said, that from an emissions perspective “we have achieved nothing”. All of us who have been trying to promote change on climate change, are finding that, if we are honest, at a cumulative level, our efforts amount to little. Therefore, increasingly frustrated and anxious activists are discussing what approaches might work better in achieving significant reductions in atmospheric carbon. As I have a background in analysing and advising on social change, as a scholar, activist and consultant, and been involved in recent climate activism, I wish to offer some thoughts on those discussions about “what activism next”?
Continue reading “What Activism Next? Ideas for Climate Campaigners”

Striking for Climate Safety

The climate and ecological emergency is such that additional approaches to activism for transformative change must be examined and experimented with. In particular, approaches that offer opportunities for mass participation, globally, should be considered, as they enable wider understanding and support for the necessary livelihood and lifestyle changes to reduce harm from climate chaos.  

The ‘global climate strikes’ that are co-organised by the climate campaign group have not involved actual workplace strikes organised by trade unions in dispute with their employers. Instead, they have involved young people taking time away from school, with some supportive demonstrations by adults, sometimes encouraged by trade unions and permitted by employers. 

The following idea about striking for ‘climate safety’ outlines a different approach, where adults show greater solidarity with young climate strikers, by challenging employers to adopt policies which make meaningful the notion of a climate emergency. That will involve the employer making carbon cuts, drawdown and adaptation to disruption the central organising principle of the organisation. Such challenges to employers will need to be real, by being backed by trade union bargaining processes and the threat of lawful official strike action. The recent evolution of the concept of Occupational Health and Safety to include climate risks provides the context for such trade union leadership and action. Ultimately that action might enable a transformative agenda onto the mainstream of political agendas.  Continue reading “Striking for Climate Safety”

Avoiding Davos Disease as Climate Activists

cheese canapes

In announcing the theme for Davos 2020, the Executive Chairman at the World Economic Forum (WEF) explained that: “People are revolting against the economic ‘elites’ they believe have betrayed them…”

In case you didn’t realise, Professor Klaus Schwab, was not welcoming the news. He was not celebrating the uprising of people calling for a different economic system in the face of a climate and ecological crisis driven by the industrial consumer society. Instead, he was warning the delegates to Davos of the threat to the system that sustains their privilege. Continue reading “Avoiding Davos Disease as Climate Activists”

Adapting deeply to likely collapse: an enhanced agenda for climate activists?

Extinction Rebellion & Deep Adaptation

Last year an Extinction Rebellion handbook called “This is Not a Drill” was published by Penguin, featuring a chapter I wrote on Deep Adaptation, called “Doom and Bloom”. It has some important chapters, and you can order it here. My chapter was edited for length, and so here is the original submitted version. I release it on my blog to encourage discussions about climate activist movements, such as XR, FridaysForFuture and Sunrise, making adaptation to unfolding climate chaos a complementary focus to net carbon neutrality. Even top government advisors recognise that scale of government action on humanitarian relief, food security, disaster risk reduction, psychological support, and economic transformation, is insufficient to help us all adapt to the unfolding damage from extreme weather and its knock-on effects on our economic systems. Continue reading “Adapting deeply to likely collapse: an enhanced agenda for climate activists?”

Documentary about Children facing Climate Collapse – Oskar’s Quest

“The global wave of school strikes for the climate over the past year has ‘achieved nothing’ because greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, Greta Thunberg has told activists at UN climate talks in Madrid… she said that although schoolchildren had been striking around the world, this “has not translated into action” from governments… [Greta continued..] ‘We can’t go on like this; it is not sustainable that children skip school and we don’t want to continue – we would love some action from the people in power.'” The Guardian, Dec 6th 2019.

As emissions rise, impacts worsen, governments dither, and the science darkens the horizon for humanity, what is next for the FridaysForFuture movement of school strikers? What is next for young people in general? For anyone concerned about the climate emergency, this seems like one of the most important questions. Continue reading “Documentary about Children facing Climate Collapse – Oskar’s Quest”

The economics of extinction: a reason for rebellion

Jeffrey Newman sitting in the middle of a London street

Prof Jem Bendell and Rabbi Jeffrey Newman

This article originally appeared on Extinction Rebellion’s blog on March 20th 2019 and republished here for ease of access.

What would a sane society do, knowing that one of its luxury food supplies was being exhausted? Consume less perhaps? Or grow more? Japan, knowing that the Bluefin tuna is going extinct, does neither. Bluefish tuna make the most profit for fishermen the nearer they are to extinction, as their rarity endows all the more status on their consumers.

Some might think that is a quirky Japanese behaviour or an anomaly of economics, but actually the free-market system in which individuals compete for profit is resplendent with such stupidities. Continue reading “The economics of extinction: a reason for rebellion”

Forgiving the destructive tendency in everyone as climate chaos grows

Face half in shadow

One of the questions I suggested we use for exploring our responses to the predicament of disastrous climate change was:

“With what and whom can we make peace with to lessen suffering?”

I called this the fourth R of reconciliation within the Deep Adaptation framework.

Part of this “making peace” and reconciling is forgiveness.

The human race has destroyed so much life on Earth and will continue to do so. Some cultures and countries have collectively been far more destructive than others and will continue to be for some time. Some companies are more destructive than others, as are some individuals. And they may continue to be so for some time.

Anger at this situation is understandable. More than that, such anger is a sign we are awake to the situation and that we care.

But then what do we do with that anger? Continue reading “Forgiving the destructive tendency in everyone as climate chaos grows”