Advertising aimed at children is so prevalent in our lives that many people think it’s okay. But child-development experts for years have said that ads on kids' TV shows, for example, constitute an unfair assault on impressionable minds that aren’t old enough to appraise the sales pitch.

"Yes, we have no advertising"  Excerpt from Raffi's article in
the Globe and Mail.


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The Right To A Future: Urgent need for a new lens and lexicon to convey climate collapse

By Raffi Cavoukian.

Reprinted below: This blog post appeared on the Huffington Post Jan 18, 2011. It is an excerpt of this compelling essay by Raffi.

Please read the full essay: click here to download   Medium length essay: click here to download

Are we tweeting while Earth burns? Is climate collapse our new collective Titanic? How do we best describe the survival struggle of 7 billion in a way that connects?

“Planet Earth, creation, the world in which civilization developed, the world with climate patterns that we know and stable shorelines, is in imminent peril.” James Hansen (2009)

“We’re screwed!” David Letterman (2009)

The science on global warming is clear and compelling. Earth is in serious climate crisis. That’s why many writers have recently upgraded climate change to climate collapse, climate catastrophe, the long emergency. We need a new Story to convey the threat.

If not for wonder, if not for reverence, if not for love, why have we come here?

EarthIn a well known Greek myth, the very rich King Midas, who loves gold above all else, is granted his singular wish that everything he touches turn into gold. The gift becomes a curse when his golden touch kills plants, food, and even his daughter, who is turned into a statue. Bereft and repentant, forsaking greed, the king begs for deliverance. His curse is lifted by a wash in the river. All he holds truly precious is restored.

The modern version of the story is about a gold rush called globalization, a monetized world order that commodifies everything and poisons all that it touches: air, water, soil, whales, indigenous cultures, mothers’ milk, and babies, now born with a body burden of toxic chemicals. Money, as symbolic reward for goods and services, when elevated above all else, becomes a curse. The symbol turns tyrant and casts a plague on the living. We’re currently in the atonement chapter of the tragedy, praying we have time to write a happier ending.

But despite the best efforts of climate scientists and environmentalists to explain the dangers of climate inaction, political response is slow, most people don’t get the seriousness of the issue. CO2 emissions aren’t falling, they’re rising.

Experts use escalating phrases to describe climate change. James Hansen: “the coming climate catastrophe,” “our last chance to save humanity;” Gustav Speth: “system failure,” “looking into the abyss.” Lester Brown writes: “The signs that our civilization is in trouble are multiplying.”

That’s why we need a new lens and lexicon for conveying climate change as the greatest threat on Earth, a tragedy of epic proportions, especially for the world’s young.

Here are the main elements of the new story. The lens is Earth & Child—Child friendly means Earth friendly. The lexicon is a whole-brain “linking language” of systems, not fragments. The frame is climate change as The Crisis, the compound threat to the human future. The story aligns present with future, connecting climate change to kids, health, and behaviour so families get that it’s about them and their future. Just as the loss of King Midas’s daughter melted his gold-worn heart, children may yet move humanity to bathe in a new river. The story’s protagonist is the Child, our conscience.

The moral of the new story is undeniable: We must not love money more than children. While there is time, societies must reorder priorities towards supporting life systems—what matters most—not maximizing monetary wealth. Worldwide, social inequities are growing, while our planet’s life support systems are failing. The choice is clear: Gaia’s gift of life, or the Midas curse.

If our species could be granted one wish, what would that be? Wouldn’t it be to lift the Midas curse, reclaim what we have lost and restore our sanity?

Climate change is not one among many issues, it is THE crisis, the greatest threat on Earth, the cumulative damage that has no partial remedy. It’s best addressed with systems change, beginning with belief systems learned very early. To cut pollution and GHG emissions for good, change personal belief systems. Start young.

To grow Earth stewards, steward the children and youth. This is where the restoration must focus—strategically and morally. Not only do kids get sustainability, they have the most to lose or gain.

With all it portends, the spectre of catastrophic climate change may offer our best and last chance to work towards a massive green revolution that stabilizes climate with atmospheric CO2 at 350 ppm, the mark science dictates.

The young have the strongest moral claim on climate action. It’s their future on the line. And they may hold the key to inspiring an emotional tipping point for critical mass.

Urgently, we need to embrace social and economic systems that constitute a culture of respect for children and their planetary habitat.

We need a stunning paradigm shift that stabilizes climate by reducing suffering and increasing joy. We may need a youth-led cultural revolution to get there. 16 year old Alec Loorz (of California) thinks so: he wants people to live as if the future matters. His “iMatter” climate change campaign plans to rally the world’s youth.

In 1990, two words (20 characters) brought down the Soviet Union and the Berlin wall: glasnost and perestroikia—openness and restructuring. What if the enormous convening power of social media gave the existing global disorder a “glasnost & perestroika shakedown” just as unimaginable? Can the abusive globalized money system unravel by people flexing their tech muscle to collectively demand “the right to a future?”

We’re in THE moral moment. We must thoroughly detoxify our world, cool this planet down, and redesign societies to be systems smart. With utmost compassion, let us steer a course away from icebergs and towards a welcoming shore.


Selected References

Ray Anderson, Mid-Course Correction (1999), Confessions Of A Radical Industrialist (2009)
Mark Anielski, The Economics of Happiness (2007)
Lester Brown, Plan B 4.0 (2009), World On The Edge (2011)
Cavoukian, Olfman, Ed., Child Honouring (2006)
Gwynne Dyer, Climate Wars, (2008)
Riane Eisler, The Real Wealth of Nations (2007)
Duane Elgin, The Living Universe, (2009)
Thomas Friedman, Hot, Flat, and Crowded (2008)
Daniel Goleman, Ecological Intelligence (2009)
James Hansen, Storms of My Grandchildren (2009)
Hazel Henderson, Ethical Markets (2007)
James Hoggan, Climate Cover-up (2009)
Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes From a Catastrophe (2006)
Mark Lynas, Six Degrees (2008)
David Korten, The Great Turning (2006), Agenda For A New Economy (2010)
Bill McKibben, Eaarth (2009)
Alanna Mitchell, Sea Sick (2009)
George Monbiot, Heat (2009)
David Orr, Down To The Wire (2009)
Gustav Speth, The Bridge At The Edge of the World (2008)
Andrew Weaver, Keeping Our Cool (2008)
Edward O. Wilson, Consilience (1998), The Creation (2007)

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