Futurosity #4

Australia is in love with coal : A different way to tackle climate change : Propaganda posters

Australia + coal = remains true

Two weeks ago, Australia held a national referendum. All the professional guesstimators were convinced that the conservative coalition block that had governed for the past five years would lose.

Bill Shorten, leader of the left-centrist opposition, was the likely winner, which would have meant a turnaround for Australian politics in terms of pro-climate action and policies for decreasing income inequality.

That so did not happen. Instead, the sitting prime minister Scott Morrison not only won but secured a whopping victory. This is the person who won international infamy a few years ago for holding up a (laquered) piece of coal in the Australian parliament as a proof of how non-dangerous the substance is.

Click here to enjoy the spectacle, from 2017

Morrison’s winning rhetoric was not incomparable to the one that Donald Trump used to claim the White House in 2016. His voters were the older generation and those living in the countryside with limited employment opportunities. The message was that of fear and a return to a perceived better past.

He attacked his opponents by claiming that the ‘alleged’ climate change frenzy of the urban elite would destroy the Australian coal mining industry and with it thousands of jobs. They in turn tried to win the election by appealing to people’s senses about climate change and investments in public welfare.

That didn’t work. On a wave of populist currents Scott Morrison surfed past the opposition and is now re-installed as the prime minister of Australia.

Balanced article about what caused the election result, from The Guardian. 4-5 minutes read.

The end of coal is here - 4 minute Youtube video by Energy Analyst.

More on the same topic, Carbon Tracker podcast. 38 minutes.

So here’s an idea for an experiment

What if, during the next election, the politicians in your country/region/municipality did something different. What if they went on tour with the most populistic and conservative arguments for why we need to invest heavily into renewable energy and electric transport?

What if - instead of trying to sell notions of climate change prevention - the message was all about autonomy from the state, national security and affordable living? As a prototype we created three old school political posters to visualise this concept, see below. Judge how well we managed by hitting reply to this email.

The new jobs are in renewables

Did you know what’s the fastest growing job category in the United States? It’s solar panel installer. Yeah. This industry is employing thousands of people and will continue to grow, while the coal industry is in rapid decline.

Bureau of Labour Statistics on the job growth of solar panel installer.

Do you think that voters that are underexposed to the message of climate change but are suffering from lack of employment opportunities would be appealed by such a message?

Electric cars are quiet/clean/fast/cheaper to run/don’t break down

What if we switched the argument for why you should buy an electric car away from helping the environment to one of the other virtues that these vehicles uniquely possess?

They do not make noise, and nor do they pollute. The instant acceleration of electric vehicles is like marmalade on toast for any speed fanatic. And although these cars are still more expensive to buy than their fossil fuel siblings they are sooo much more affordable to own - both in terms of fuel costs and savings on maintenance.

Herein lies a lot of strong and non-politicised facts about why to drive an electric vehicle, whether you think that climate change is a hoax or not. What do you think?

Batteries will set you free

In order to stave of climate change we need to rid ourselves of fossil fuels by storing the energy generated from the sun and wind in giant batteries. However, the very same technology also has other virtues.

If you install solar panels and a big enough battery in your house you can make yourself independent of the national grid. You save money. You are resilient against blackouts. You are free.

If your country invested in sufficient renewable energy production and storage, it would not have to import electricity from abroad. Nor coal or uranium. We’d save money. We’d be resilient against international dilemmas. And the EU. We’d increase our national security. We would be free. Think about it.

We must de-politicise the conversation around climate action

At 10X Labs we pride ourselves on being pragmatic optimists. By that we mean that high-minded ideals are a good starting point, but in order to make big impact happen at scale, we need to all sides to meet in the middle and get our hands dirty.

Right now is a tough time for public debate, in large part due to social media. Facts are turned into political arguments and become transformed into ideology. Climate change, vaccines and even whether the world is round or flat (great Netflix documentary, truly) have become features of political tribes. You believe in certain facts, or you don’t. Is the tendency.

We’re hoping to spark a conversation with you, dear reader, about this topic by proposing the ideas above through our perhaps slightly provocative posters. Is it arrogant and/or a betrayal to the cause to paint the normally green arguments for these questions in other colours?

How do we bridge the gap between the tree huggers and the diesel patriots? What is the halfway point between Greta Thunberg and Mad Max? On that spot we can build truly better things, we think.

Thank you for reading. These are exciting times. Let’s talk about it.

-Sebastian and Fredrik