We kicked off with a video from Prince Ea of a spoken word poem that imagined the apology our generation would have to make to future generations if we fail to make changes now.
Joshua Rice joined Anne-Sophie Novel and Joe Ross for the brief this evening. Joshua is from the Global Call for Climate Action and supports the work of around 2,000 individuals around the globe who track climate change issues and events (the so-called “Climate Trackers”). His reading of the COP so far was one of guarded optimism because as he points out, “The words may have changed, but the people in the room have not.” That is to say, the energy was exceptionally high after the heads of state spoke at the opening of the COP but it is unclear how and if the negotiations will produce a consensus we can build on.
He reiterated what many have been saying about COP21, that there is little expectation that all our hopes will be answered by what comes out of these negotiations. “What Paris can give us is the tools to speed up the process through our national governments.” What’s important he says, is that we’re seeing more and more engagement and mobilisation, and we have to keep up the momentum, “We can change the story by being brave.”
Place to B, and especially the Creative Factory, is meant to be a place to people to do just that. We got a taste of the work coming out of the Factory with an introduction from Place to B’s David Holyoake and a video by Thomas Perrot.
We then got into the nitty-gritty of our theme for the evening. Our speakers were Cédric Carles, director of ATELIER21 and designer/researcher at Paleo Energetique – a website documenting a new counter-history of energy. He was joined by Florence Porcel, columnist for France Inter science magazine La Tête au Carré who also writes the blog La Galaxie de Florence Porcel and produces a podcast La Folle Histoire de L’Univers to bring science news and debate to a wider audience. Sophie Chapelle also joined the panel. She is a journalist at the independent news site Basta! and contributor to a La Revue Dessinée report on geoengineering.
The conversation flowed from the importance of recording a new history of how we have used resources to crowdsourcing innovation for new inventions to what we can learn from the technological advancements pioneered in space. Florence Porcel pointed out that there is a Mars Rover that was meant to last three months in the hostile Martian environment and has in fact continued to gather valuable data for the past 12 years. “Now when we consider that a mobile phone only lasts around 1.5 years and we don’t recycle them, that is crazy” she said.
Engineer and author of The Age of Low Tech Philippe Bihouix carried this thread through to the next segment pointing out how difficult it is to recycle the materials that make up our gadgets even if we had the systems in place to do it well. He noted that, for now, we don’t have the technological capability to transition to 100% renewables at the scale of global energy consumption, since we rely too heavily on resources (metals) that are finite by nature to produce our solar panels and wind turbines. It was an important reminder that technological development alone cannot be a solution to the problems of climate change. A point the next instalment from Bridget Kyoto’s video series made in last night’s broadcast.
Benjamin Tincq, co-founder of OuiShare and co-instigator at POC21 brought us some good news from the forefront of crowd sourced innovation and maker communities. At POC21 people have access to traditional metal and wood working tools as well as digital fabrication and electronic equipment to test out ideas, improve on them and create the prototypes of a “fossil free zero waste society”. It’s a way of “empowering people through technology to change reality.”
For Benjamin though “Developing technology is important but developing knowledge is equally important” – ideas and designs are shared across the Fab Lab network so that others can learn from them, improve them and build them locally. It’s an example of how technological developments can be used to crowd source problem solving. Guy-Philippe Goldstein, expert on Cyber-Warfare reiterated the importance of this kind of collective action and cooperating together to solve the problems of today.
If POC21 encourages us all to be makers and tinkerers, then our guest artist of the night, Tara Baswani wants us all to be artists as well. “I think we are all artists in some form. We are the art form we choose to be.” She said of her art as a musician, writer and designer “My art has taught me to be humble, to be present, to learn and to learn to share” – practices we can all benefit from as we work together to build a new narrative for our future.