Hva skal til for å gjøre Norge til et bærekraftig samfunn? Les det inspirerende foredraget av Spires Lan Marie Berg som ble holdt under den internasjonale konferansen Transformation in a Changing Climate 2013.
o transform from a petroleum-based society to a sustainable one, we first of all need to have a vision to change. We need to believe that we can. However, despite increasing knowledge on the hazards of climate change and the dire need for something new, Norway has been moving in the wrong direction. Since the last IPCC-report and the hype towards Copenhagen, our national self-image as an international peacemaker, well doer and “climate hero”, has been fading in favor of a growing awareness of an other identity as a nation “made of oil”, and only oil.
“New oil discoveries are important for the welfare state”, is the title of a children’s program at the state channel NRK. “We support the heroes of tomorrow”, is Statoil’s – the Norwegian oil-company’s- PR-program. “Join the oil adventure” is one of their most recent commercials. 3 of the top 10 companies that the oilfund invests (its oil money in), is BP, Shell and Exxon Mobile. Nevertheless, it has guts enough to claim to invest for the best interest of (and I quote) “future generations”. In other words, Norway’s oil-wealth is packed in to a communication strategy focusing on our nation’s best interest, our welfare system, and our future, ironically enough.
But we are buying it. As the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere smashed the 400-ppm milestone, the majority of our politicians, actually just two days ago, voted to open a brand new area for oil extraction - the biggest one in 20 years – and this without causing any larger public outcry.
Norwegians are currently sleeping, or comatosing, on a big, comfortable pillow of oil. It is not that we lack options, but we are simply not giving them enough attention, as we are busy spending money on fossil fuel subsidies, pushing our best engineers into the oil-industry and heating up our economy, making it impossible for other actors to move. So, how can we transform our economy when other options seem more and more unlikely?
My first real experience with climate change activism was at the infamous COP in Copenhagen. One of the tools we used to remind the delegates and heads of state that they were in the Bella Center to find solutions was this key ring. It says: “Lead or go home”. But as we know, nobody really led, and in the end we all went home.
At the international, as well as at the national level, there is a problem of leadership. Are our leaders really leaders, if they don’t dare to vision and lead us to the society that we need. And if our leaders don’t lead, what do we do?
Karen O’Brien said something that really struck me some days ago, she said: “We only need 10 percent to transform a society”. That is encouraging, because it means that if our politicians can’t lead, we can!
And to an extent we are already doing it. Change is on the way in Berlin, in Copenhagen and in Oslo. Mindsets are changing rapidly, and maybe the right timing, as Per was talking about, is now.
To transform, we need activists, researchers, entrepreneurs, big companies, and politicians on our team. But most of all we need people. When I meet with friends, family, and strangers and they get to know what I am up to, they often tell me “oh you are so engaged” and “it is good that you care so much”. I think that an appropriate answer to those statements is: yes, why don’t you?
I am really so grateful that I found causes bigger than myself that I care about so much that I have been willing to sacrifice many other aspects of my life for them. Causes that I am willing to spend most of my time for, to get exhausted for, to get deeply disappointed and depressed for – because these are also the things that give my life the most value.
“Fire soul” is the translation of a word in Norwegian that is often used to describe people who have found a way to do something they are really good at, for a cause that they are passionate about. I believe that everybody has a “fire soul”. Everybody have the need to burn for something bigger than themselves and a unique ability to address it. I just think that not everybody have found it yet. Finding your “fire” - the rush and joy of engaging in something bigger than yourself and of accomplishing to address it– is something I think most people strive for.
So lets give that to people! We can start with opening engagement labs in schools and in universities. Lets challenge people to think about what they want for the future, encourage them, give them confidence and the tools to do something about it, whether it is to create technological solutions, open a business, write in the newspaper, compose songs, do something for greening their community, become researchers or politicians or to encourage and engage other people. Let it become normal, fun and important to care and to do something for the greater good. Before we know it, our role models go from "pink bloggers" to "green bloggers", from wasteful consumers to responsible ones, from oil-addicts to social entrepreneurs. And we will have powerful stories to tell. More powerful and more enchanting than any Norwegian oil-fairytale.
Lan Marie Berg
Video stream from the conference can be found here.