After Tällberg: Climate on My Mind
Växjö, Sweden — Everywhere I turn, climate change is on my mind. I’m writing this at my sister-in-law’s house near Växjö, a college town in southern Sweden. Växjö bills itself as “Europe’s greenest city,” so-called by the BBC, for its range of progressive measures on climate, energy, and green building. My in-laws run a 200 year-old country manor house called Osaby Säteri, which sits by a lake on a 10,000-acre nature reserve. It’s a spectacularly calm and beautiful place. I can hardly imagine a better setting to rest and synthesize the massive input of ideas and inspirations that have been bubbling in my brain since spending last week at the Tällberg Forum and Tällberg New Leaders Program.
But despite the calm, I can’t get climate change off my mind. The weather here is unseasonably, oppressively hot — temperatures across Sweden have been in the high 80s for almost 2 weeks. The land here at Osaby is strewn with dead trees from a freak storm that blew through in late 2005 — yet another incident of what Amory Lovins calls “global weirding.” And the news is full of talk about climate policy and the upcoming UN climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen. Sweden took it’s turn as EU President just yesterday. We watched the inaugural festivities on TV, and between the musical acts, the only question the emcee asked prime minister Fredrik Rheinfeldt, of the center-right Moderate party, was “what will you do about the climate question?” He gave the right answer, “That’s the most important issue facing us,” and went on to talk about how Sweden will push other European countries to take action and cut CO2 emissions. Earlier yesterday, protesters from Greenpeace unfurled a banner on Stockholm’s waterfront that read “Tck Tck Tck,” part of a new campaign to drive home the point that time is running out for action on climate.
It would take weeks to relate all of my experiences at Tällberg here. It was a bit like drinking through a fire hose. For a detailed, play-by-play account of what happened at Tällberg, I highly recommend Alan AtKisson’s 6-part series “Camping At Tällberg.” Instead of giving my own complete chronicle, I’ll focus this series of posts on a few highlights, in particular:
- The New Leaders Program and the nature of leadership
- Planetary Boundaries — science shows that we’re screwed (or very close to it) on many fronts besides climate
- Social Enterprise and Reworking the World — fostering sustainable entrepreneurship and youth employment are key to solving not just economic and social crises, but the climate crisis
- Global Observatory — a taskforce formed at Tallberg to create a space in Copenhagen for a panel of top scientists to monitor the UN climate negotiations and mobilize grassroots activists around the world as needed to prod their governments to shift towards 350ppm CO2 in the atmosphere.
- Carbon War Room — an impressive new online toolset for activists and businesspeople fighting climate change.
I left Tällberg feeling both more desperate and more hopeful about the fate of humanity and the planet. I’m reminded of Tom Atlee’s line, that “everything is getting worse and worse, and better and better, faster and faster.” I can only hope that we end up on the right side of that equation. I’ll do my part to make sure that happens. And I’ll share my thoughts with you on the above in the coming days.