Episode 1B: Global Challenges, Local Solutions

Description: In this episode, we share our vision for the new “Climate911” program. We explore the E4 Crises we are facing and discuss two solutions we can use locally to address all 4 crises. We also outline the topics we will be bringing you over the next few months.

“Global Challenges, Local Solutions” is a VIU Elder College course. It is taught by Don Giberson, the host of Climate911. It could also be the motto for Climate911. We explore practical and innovative solutions we can pursue locally to tackle the climate emergency and other global challenges.

We are facing 4 major global challenges. These are sometimes referred to as the E4 Crises: Energy, Economy, Environment, and Equity. Each is briefly explained below. (NOTE: The E4 Crises and the comments below are adapted from the “Think Resilience” course offered by the Post Carbon Institute and taught by Richard Heinberg. See the resources section below for more information.)

Energy: Our discovery of oil, coal, and natural gas unleashed an energy revolution. We depend on fossil fuels to power many of our industries and to move goods around the globe. But the cheap oil that has been fueling our economic growth is drying up and new discoveries of fossil fuels are often lower in quantity and quality. A lower energy future is likely. And that poses huge challenges given our reliance on fossil fuels.

Economy. The energy revolution unleashed economic growth. But perpetual economic growth on a finite planet is not possible. Our global economy depends on relatively cheap fossil fuels to keep things running. Shrinking supply or higher prices pose serious threats to our global economy with far-reaching consequences for millions of workers and businesses.

Environment. The global economy has gotten too big and is rapidly depleting our natural resources. And our burning of fossil fuels is contributing to climate change. Experts say we need to leave 80% of the remaining fossil fuels in the ground if we want to keep climate change to manageable levels. But how do we scale back the global economy and shrink our use of fossil fuels without devastating millions of people around the globe?

Equity. Income inequality is growing and poses a serious risk to our economic and social systems. We need to address the energy, economy, and environment crises in ways that also address the equity crises.

Local solutions. These global challenges are all closely interconnected; solutions need to address all 4 crises simultaneously. These global crises pose tremendous risks to our local communities. What can we do at the local level to protect our communities? There are two ideas we can pursue at the local level which tackle all 4 crises: community resilience (or localization) and Doughnut Economics. Each is briefly explained below.

Community Resilience (or localization). Community resilience refers to the ability of a community to bounce back from a shock, either man-made or natural, with little or no loss of community functions. One way to build community resilience and provide some shelter from these global challenges is by pursuing a deliberate policy of localization: producing locally the things our community needs as much as possible. This would include: local food (growing most of our own food locally), local energy (generating most of our energy locally), local economies (prioritizing local businesses over large, multi-national corporations), local housing (building homes with local materials as much as possible), and local medicine (as opposed to large, multi-national pharmaceutical companies). This is how we used to live before fossil fuels spurred global supply chains. Many of our shows will explore these ideas of local food, local energy, local economies, local housing, and local medicine.

Doughnut Economics. Developed by Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics (DE) provides a visual way of understanding what is needed for a prosperous and sustainable economic system. Such an economy would need to achieve two goals: 1. meet the needs of its citizens (12 social objectives), and 2. avoid ecological overshoot (9 ecological limits). Visually, such an economy would look like a doughnut (see below). Local governments would use the DE framework to set and track social objectives while also setting and tracking ecological objectives. In January, the city of Nanaimo became the first city in Canada to formally adopt doughnut economics as a framework for city planning. We will do a show on Doughnut Economics later in the year.


Think Resilience course offered by Post Carbon Institute: https://www.postcarbon.org/events/think-resilience-guided-course/

Global Challenges, Local Solutions course through VIU’s Elder College (March 10-April 14, 2021): https://adm.viu.ca/eldercollege/course-descriptors#global-challenges-Local-Solutions

Doughnut Economics: https://doughnuteconomics.org/