News stories about the climate crisis are unsettling at best. The Brazilian rainforest is on fire. Arctic glaciers are melting at alarming rates. People in the southern hemisphere are migrating in massive numbers. Aquifers are drying up across the globe. Europeans, who we tend to think live in the bastion of Western comforts, have suffered from 40 degree Celsius heat. And this is just the beginning.
The Global Climate Strike that is being called for the week of September 20 to 27, 2019, is the right response. Millions of people — students, parents, workers, seniors and civilians — will be out on the streets, away from their schools, offices, homes, and workplaces, marching together with a single goal: to let governments and big business know that we are tired of being ignored, scorned, shamed, and belittled. We have run out of time and patience. And we have decided that acting out loud is better than reacting quietly in our homes and on our social media feeds.
Humanity now has a few years (perhaps a dozen) to turn a fossil fueled catastrophe-in-waiting into a new economic and social reality that is more sustainable, more just, and more rational. Part of this process will be adaptation and part will be mitigation. All of it will be difficult, taking significant work, and it will likely entail many sacrifices.
On Friday, September 27, 2019, Manoverboard will be supporting the Global Climate Strikers in the city of Winnipeg, throughout Canada, and around the globe. We are shutting our doors, walking to the Manitoba Legislature, taking up signs, and supporting the action. Our goal is to show our support of the growing youth movement that is demanding public, permanent, and piercing action on climate.
As a design studio that cares much about open technology and the advancement of a green and sustainable web, we are also signing on to the Digital Climate Strike and spreading the word about the events via our website. (Prior to September 20, a green banner will appear at the bottom of our site.) We are also working with other conscientious companies throughout Canada and the United States to help spread the word.
If you run a business or nonprofit and if you care about the future of the planet, we hope you’ll consider joining us and supporting the strike.
TLDR: If you want to read more about why the Global Climate Strike is important, some bonus content appears below.
Why Exactly Are We Climate Striking?
Joining the Climate Strike makes sense to us for so many reasons. Maybe we should start with threat of existential risk? If you’ve ever had a chance to listen to a podcast with David Wallace-Wells (Joe Rogan’s is good) or if you read any of Wallace-Wells’ work in New York magazine or his new book, The Uninhabitable Earth, you may recall the sheer terror of a ride that he takes you on (as well as the glimmers of sunlight he proffers). The picture he paints of a future earth is one hot, inglorious disaster for humanity and all conscious creatures. We really need to act with great decision and moral gravity. I will describe three business-related perspectives informing our action.
Businesses Need to Step Up
Government has only started addressing the climate emergency that is unfolding. Prime ministers, presidents, representatives, and political leaders should course correct by introducing clear regulations and frameworks that can reign in greenhouse gas emissions, that fully tax carbon, and that implement protocols and incentives to green the economy.
Yes, climate agreements were signed by governments. The Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015 were comprehensive, actionable, and realistic responses to “climate change”. But the exigencies of climate change point to a need for structural change on a level that governments cannot implement without massive influence by the grassroots on big business and multinational corporations, the engines of energy extraction and consumption.
Green structural change will require unknowably large commitments by the energy, agriculture, building, and technology industries to start turning things around. The largest polluters in the world — we are looking at you country of China, Saudia Arabian Oil Company (or Aramco), Gazprom, National Iranian Oil Co, ExxonMobil, and Coal India — have not only shamelessly wasted time extracting fossil fuels but have instigated massive misinformation campaigns to cover up the realities of climate change and to malign the research of climate scientists around the world.
And that’s simply scratching the surface. Businesses large (and small) have benefited from the lack of government intervention and regulation. When business starts to recognize that millions of individuals are finally and fully fed up, when they see that the public is infuriated with the lack of progress in implementing change, and when they hear that hard regulation is critical to planetary health, we can start to breathe hope. Large corporations have started to take notice: fossil fuel divestment is now over $3 trillion and much more is on the way.
The Climate Strike is a way to let governments know that they are the core mechanism that will hold business accountable for past inaction, present misinformation, and future transgressions.
Working Is Not Just About Work
At Manoverboard, we work hard to deliver beautiful, durable, and far-reaching design for both our clients and ourselves. We care tremendously about the quality and integrity of the work and the substance of what we deliver. Long days and many dozens of complex and technical tasks — mostly design, development and delivery — amount to unique visual and technological outcomes for our clients, many of whom are busy addressing climate.
But sometimes work is not about the task or the tweak. We believe it should also be about being counted, assisting organizations in the community, and playing some part of the big picture. We sometimes volunteer and will often take on pro bono projects. This is a little different. By disrupting business as usual during Global Climate Strike week, work is protest and protest is work. (To be honest, a strike should probably happen every week; that’s exactly what Greta Thunburg started with Fridays for Future.)
Design is Both Undersold and Undertold
I have been arguing for some time that the climate emergency is one of communications. The economic and technical and solutions exist. The public will does not (yet). We know what needs to happen — converting the social economy into one that will work now and for future generations — and design needs to play a role. It is time to put federal, provincial and state governments and corporations on notice and design needs to play a critical role in doing the work. The fine folks at 350.org (the sponsors of the Climate Strike) realize this better than nearly any other climate-focused NGO.
We want to see design work for the benefit of all living things and not for the very few. The time is now for designers to use the critical thinking and visual communications tools they were given.