Monday, September 3, 2012

Do Something!

I'm taking a course at CEMUS this autumn and just came back from the inspiring kick-off panel-discussion. It was a discussion with the two founders of CEMUS, Niclas Hällström and Magnus Tuvendal. CEMUS is a student initiative and 20 years ago these were the two students at Uppsala University who said to their professors "this is the kind of courses we want; interdiscplinary courses and courses that acctually touch the subjects of the big challenges we have ahead". Already that is a big inspiration, that they managed to get trough their wishes in an old, traditional University where they felt every institution focused only on themselves and the their subject.

We talked a little bit about how the first priority of Universities should be to educate people so that they don't use their knowledge in a bad way once they have graduated. What is meant by this? Well, the sad truth is that a lot of  people with degree titles are the ones creating most damage to the planet. People in politics often have law degrees or similar higher degrees but seem to forget the state of the planet when they are taking decisions.

Here's a nice quote by Stephen H. Schneider, Ph.D. at Stanford University. Apparently he was a great lecturer when it came to climate change issues (if you are interested you can see some videos of him speaking and other material here).

"Just because we scientists have Ph.D.'s we should not hang up our citizenship at the door of a public meeting."   - Steve

So what degree do you have? And how do you use it to make a better planet? I'm quoting Niclas Hällström now (how I remember his words): "Trust your gut-feeling. Have a healthy lack of respect for authority. The values they are reflecting upon us are not always the right ones".

So how do we change policies made by people who don't seem to be very keen on it? Well, remember that all big social changes in history have come from below, not the top.

This is an important lesson that came up in the debate; don't underestimate what you can do RIGHT NOW. Don't sit back and think I will do something once I finished this degree, or after this job, or after having a course on climate change or whatever. I can relate to what they were saying about that a little bit. That it is difficult to know what to do with the scary facts about the state of the planet and it's easy to get paralysed. Our systems are complex and our focus on money-value is not easy to change. So you wait and think that the degree will give you some answers to that and some tools to work with. The truth is that we all know already about something we can do and there's no better time to start than now! 

It's a fact that climate change is happening, it's by this time irriversible and the effects will probably come sooner (and be worse?) than we are prepared for. However, instead of letting this depress us, it's a great opportunity for us to change things for the better. So do something good for the planet and allow yourself to feel good about it! Even better when we do things togheter, in groups, in communities etc. because it's a rewarding project creating co-value.

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