On climate change, there’s no easy way to say it: our situation is dire. Addressing it will take nothing less than warlike levels of money and mobilization. But every war first begins with a narrative about what threatens us and what we should do about it. So the focus of the site is to explain that narrative and what climate change means for ordinary people.
The ancient Greek symposium and the Parisian salons, which combined drinking with elevated discussion, were often held in private houses. In these times intellectuals knew they could best make their case at home, not in a public venue, and that debate would be helped along by food and drink. In an attempt to emulate these practices, I began recording interviews with friends and family about climate change (which you can find in the Video Archive). People are busy, it’s easy to ignore news and scientific studies, but it’s a lot harder to ignore loved ones when they bring these issues to the dinner table.
This approach appealed to me for two reasons. First, I selfishly want my friends and family to be as prepared as possible for climate change. Second, my hope is that this unvarnished, informal approach will resonate with people in ways that cold science cannot. This issue is going to be solved from the bottom up, by regular people demanding action. So it’s with regular people that I begin.
The question is: why should you give a shit about what I have say? I’m not a scientist, and I have no history of activism. The only credibility I can claim is that given by friends and family, who (I hope) view me as a fairly smart and rational person. Climate change is a big issue but it’s also an intensely personal one. When you tell people about dangers they and their loved ones are going to encounter, you tend to get strong reactions. But if this message is relayed casually over the dinner table, people tend to be more receptive and curious. It’s not some bigwig scientist or political hack throwing this stuff at them…it’s their trusted friend or relative with whom they’re sharing a meal. So maybe if I can convince them, I can convince you.
In this way I will try to drive home the realities of our situation and make people understand the grave threat we now face. But those realizations only take us so far, and can even be harmful if they lead to despair. Thus the secondary purpose of this site is to paint a vision for the future. There is little doubt we are heading in to strange and uncertain times but if we pick a common goal, a point on the horizon to aim for, we can maintain hope and better synchronize our efforts. So here we go. Think of the year 2050. Put a picture of it in your mind. Does it look more like…
Now that’s a fairly nerdy frame of reference, but hey, I’m a nerd. I might as well just put that out there. And these are realistic end points for this century: a desolate wasteland populated by desperate people killing each other over basic resources; or a modern, peaceful sustainable world built on the values of knowledge and mutual respect (minus the cool starships). Both are science fiction, of course, but they draw from what’s within us…they show us possible futures based on the human condition. We are not idle passengers in life. Today’s individual has unprecedented means to communicate, organize, and consciously choose to influence humanity’s direction. So choose Star Trek, because the alternative is fleeing from gangs of feral children.
My name is Eric Krasnauskas (pronounced “kraz-now-skass”), I’m 34 years old, married and living outside of Boston MA. As you might have figured out by now, I’ve become increasingly concerned about climate change, and now view it as the most important issue that any of us will face in our lives (and certainly our kids’ lives). I’ve been trained as an engineer, not an environmentalist…I didn’t come to this issue from a place of loving nature or wanting to preserve Earth’s beauty. I tolerate nature, but I’m usually more comfortable in front of a computer screen than a giant redwood. No, I came to this issue because I learned of irrefutable scientific evidence which points to impending worldwide ecological collapse. That scared me: I have several beautiful godchildren and someday hope to have kids of my own, and I worry about the treacherous world they will inherit. Climate change is here, it’s real, and it’s gonna get messy…so this site is me getting off the sidelines.
It might sound strange, but I left a good job in digital media to pursue this project. This site, these talks…that’s my full time job at the moment. It’s been a pretty big leap of faith and no small number of people have given me the ol’ arched eyebrow when I tell them what I’m doing. I don’t blame them. It’s either the smartest thing or the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. I guess we’ll know soon enough.
That said, I really do believe I’ve made the right choice. This is an incredibly exciting time to be alive…the scale of technological, economic and cultural change we’re going to witness this century is truly staggering. If you’ve internalized the information on this site then you can see that the end of humanity’s current business-as-usual isn’t only desirable, it’s inevitable. That’s pretty exciting! It’s not always easy to identify moments of great historical importance when you’re in the living them. To quote Paul Gilding:
It’s going to be a wild and exhilarating ride, with winners and losers, crises and breakthroughs. There’ll be a fair amount of chaos and we’ll teeter on the edge for a while, wondering if we’ll get through. But we will, and we’ll then look back to this time and say, yes, I was there.
Earlier I stated my lack of credibility on this issue. Certainly I’m more an alarmist than a climatologist. I didn’t say, however, that I was without skills. I have a Computer and Systems Engineering degree and have worked as a professional game designer for about a decade. Engineering taught me to think analytically, to respect the laws of the universe, and to love the challenge of solving new problems. Game design taught me about the positive and negative feedbacks that drive all human activity, and how to tweak them to get a desired outcome. Where engineering and game design converge I believe we’ll find the answers to climate change
When I talk about this convergence, I’m basically talking about something called systems thinking. This is a way of approaching problems that views them as natural outputs from the larger systems in which they reside. Climate change isn’t desirable, no one is creating it deliberately. Humans want energy, and climate change is simply a byproduct of the system humanity has set up to get it. Everyone in the system is acting rationally…people drive cars because they need to get places, oil execs maximize profits because we live in a capitalist society, etc. In trying to solve any problem, you won’t get far telling people to act against against their own rational economic or cultural interests. The better solution is to restructure the system and realign those interests with the common good. Obvious. Yet subversive.
On a personal note, it still seems strange to me to be talking about all of this…such dire circumstances and enormous changes that we’re going to see in our lifetimes. Our lives are modern, good, and happy, and it feels a little bit like hysteria or religious zealotry when we talk about things in such stark contrast to our everyday experience. But I can’t fight my own nature: I’m an analytical person and the evidence of climate change is incontrovertible. Nothing would make me happier than for the forecasts to be wrong, and I’m going to work awfully hard to see that they are. But denial is a luxury we’ve afforded ourselves for too long already.
So now it’s time to get to work.