Resourcefulness for Climate Change: Cool Facts for Cool Ideas

5 August 2016

1¢ and 10¢ 

It is interesting how simple resourcefulness can defeat sheer massiveness. David brought down Goliath with a slingshot. In the 1960s, people in San Antonio, Texas were fed up with the utility company so they overpaid their bills by 1¢. This tied the bureaucracy in knots; it responded to their demands.1

Climate change is a massive problem; it needs more resourcefulness, constructive as well as confrontational. 10¢ to The March of Dimes addressed the crisis of polio years ago. People all over America, many of them children, mailed dimes to the White House—Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who lived with the consequences of the disease, was president when this began. Seven billion dimes were collected. Some of that went to the laboratory of Dr Jonas Salk; it came up with the vaccine that eradicated the disease. Simple 10¢ resourcefulness!

We need to eradicate global warming, and that will take a great deal of human resourcefulness. To do our bit, on Wednesday August 10, we are hosting an event called “On the earth, for the Earth: acting together for a cool planet.” It will take place in the McGill University Football Stadium, as part of the World Social Forum in Montreal. Think of this event as a do-it-yourself climatic picnic, to address one of the big problems of the world. To set the tone, here are some “cool facts” about climate change that I will present in my opening remarks.

Some cool facts about climate change

1.    Norway now generates almost all of its electricity using renewable energy. Of course, Norway is a rich country with considerable hydroelectric power, and it does produce a great deal of oil and gas for other countries. But …

2.    Tiny Bhutan, a poor country in the Himalayas, wedged between Tibet, India, and Nepal, some years ago committed to reducing its carbon emissions and increasing its forest cover to 60%. That it did; the country now absorbs more carbon than it produces.

3.    Clean energy now employs 8 million people worldwide.

4.    The average Canadian household wastes 47% of its food. [S LINK AT END]

5.    Better recycling of textiles, now with the lowest rate of any reusable material, could be the equivalent of taking a million cars off the roads.

6.    By unplugging when unnecessary your computer, phone charger, microwave oven, and video wave consoles, you could reduce your energy consumption by up to 10%. 

7.    Hundreds of you are attending the World Social Forum for the admission price of one of you to the World Economic Forum. Climate change is a social problem more than an economic one. Yet the WEF gets hundreds of times the press coverage of the WSF. 

Here is what we will be doing for the Earth, on the earth of the stadium on Wednesday:

Some cool ideas for climate change

We expect several hundred participants from around the world to join us for this 9:15-15:00h outdoor living lab. We want to generate truly novel ideas for dealing with climate change. Everyone will form into small groups to share insights and build on each other’s ideas, the best of which will be presented at the end. Each group will choose to work on one of these seven basic challenges:


1.   Getting it about climate change doesn’t mean we live it: how can you and I live it?

2.   What can we do with food: producing, refining, distributing, consuming, and wasting?

3.   How can we make our own city more energy friendly?

4.   How can we wake up our governments to 0 degrees, not +2 degrees?

5.   How creative can we be about challenging the most destructive environmental practices?

6.   How can we build societies of better and better instead of economies of more and more?

7.   How can the plural sector (civil society) get its collective act together to balance the power of the private sector?


The various groups discussing each challenge will sit together in one area of the field. Those that believe they have come up with a truly cool idea will present it to the others in their area, and the best of these will be be presented to everyone, in the hope of inspiring collective action back home. (I hope to present the best of these ideas in next week’s TWOG.) If we get 3 great ideas, and 100 people leave determined to act, the event will be a great success.

If you are tired of being a human resource, and wish to put some of your human resourcefulness to work for the sake of our future, please join us if you can. If you cannot, while saving the carbon energy to get here, please join us in live streaming starting at 9:45 Eastern Daylight (NY) Time.

© Henry Mintzberg 2016. Thank you to Carolina Cruz-Vinaccia and Myko for the research on the cool facts. Follow this TWOG on Twitter @mintzberg141, or receive the blogs directly in your inbox by subscribing hereTo help disseminate these blogs, we now also have a Facebook page and a LinkedIn page.

1 Gutierrez, J.A. (1998). The Making of a Chicano Militant: Lessons from Cristal. Univ. of Wisconsin Press