From fossil fuel divestment to the proliferation of renewable energy co-operatives, the global climate justice movement is growing fast. Moreover, a great many people struggling for changes that can help drive down global emissions—whether for free public transit in Brazil, or an end to public sector cuts in Greece, or a basic income in Spain or clean air in China—do not necessarily identify themselves as “climate activists.”
The fierce commitment behind many of these movements is thrilling to behold. And it’s happening just in time. Climate scientists have told us that this is the crucial decade: our last, best chance to get our emissions under control, and to decisively change course as a planetary civilization.
At The Leap, our premise is that achieving such a change requires fundamentally changing our economic and political systems. And as Naomi argues in This Changes Everything, the realization that we are participants in a battle between capitalism and the climate is one that should ultimately inspire hope, since a great many people—fighting inequality, austerity, institutionalized racism, and exploitative labor conditions—already know that the dominant economic model needs changing. Climate change can be the catalyst for the deep system change so many of us know is needed—and the science puts us on a firm and unyielding deadline.
In short: It’s time to leap. Away from extracting fossil fuels and towards an economy based on caring for each other and for the Earth.
And we need not be driven by fear alone—far from it. On the other side of this leap, we see a way of life far more desirable than what our current system can offer.
This blog is a forum for keeping up with and amplifying the work that is already building the movement we need for a great leap, whether it’s practical on-the-ground solutions, cutting edge research, or innovative thinking. We won’t be covering day-to-day news, or the ins-and-outs of climate science and legislative battles; there are plenty of great blogs doing that already. Instead, we’ll feature analytical, big-picture pieces on the social and political dimensions of the climate crisis and how to solve it.
And our emphasis is on accessibility. The climate field has long been the more or less exclusive province of a small group of experts, and if you’ve ever felt intimidated by the specialized nature of the study of global warming, you’re in good company. But you don’t need to master lots of complex science to grasp what’s important about this challenge—it impacts everyone, and everyone has a profound stake in the debates that need to unfold.
We won’t hide our belief that our society needs to undergo a fundamental shift in ideology and values. But it’s no contradiction to add that we want to help broaden these discussions as much as possible—to move away from various kinds of jargon that too often mask the highly political assumptions that have dominated our approach to climate change for decades. What we need now is an open and vigorous battle of worldviews. So we’ll be trying to elaborate on key themes and ideas in Naomi’s book, take them in new directions, fill in important gaps, and encourage constructive debates.
This blog will highlight a diverse range of voices—campaigners and frontline activists, theoreticians, policy wonks—writing for atypical audiences. We hope to offer a powerful platform for everyone from veteran writers who have yet to delve into the climate debate, to up-and-coming journalists, to longtime activists who don’t normally have time to write at all.
We’re also very interested in helping to launch and spread the word about new research that should inform these debates.
If you’d like to get engaged with and write about climate change but have never done so before, we can help, including by providing research assistance. And if you’re a scientist or policy expert who would like to write about your work for non-academic readers, please also get in touch.
The Leap’s editor is Rajiv Sicora, who worked with Naomi for over four years as leader of the research team on This Changes Everything. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
In calling this blog “The Leap,” we knew we were choosing an image with a deep history, along with a broad literary and web pedigree. One of our favorite authors, Terry Tempest Williams, published a personal and profound contemplation of Hieronymus Bosch called Leap in 2000. There’s a paean to the green energy and design boom called The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy (2011). And in the last few years alone, library shelves everywhere have been graced with: The Leap: How 3 Simple Changes Can Propel Your Career from Good to Great (2009); The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level (2009); The Leap: The Science of Trust and Why It Matters (2014); and most recently, The Leap: Launching Your Full-Time Career in Our Part-Time Economy (2015). We’ve also seen the launch of a California exercise program and UK gap year company each called The Leap.
We hope this will be an eclectic blog, so we embrace the full connotations of “The Leap”—as Naomi’s readers know, we’re big fans of renewable energy, trust, and the next-level good life.
But no, the blog title doesn’t derive from any of those books or websites. It’s not even a reference to the misadventures of Chairman Mao. (Still, if calling a blog “The Leap” is an opportunity to mess with neoliberal myths about economic planning, we’ll take it.)
It comes from the conclusion of This Changes Everything, entitled “The Leap Years: Just Enough Time for Impossible.” This is the kind of leap Naomi writes about:
“A great deal of the work of deep social change involves having debates during which new stories can be told to replace the ones that have failed us. Because if we are to have any hope of making the kind of civilizational leap required of this fateful decade, we will need to start believing, once again, that humanity is not hopelessly selfish and greedy—the image ceaselessly sold to us by everything from reality shows to neoclassical economics.”