Lawrence Bloom

The New York Times senior columnist Jack Krugman recently wrote: ‘I have seen the future, and it won’t work’. On our present trajectory his observation is chillingly accurate, as was recently confirmed in an MIT review of more than 10 different future scenarios, including those from the IPCC and Royal Dutch Shell. Of those, the MIT study concluded that Shell’s ‘Blueprints’ scenario resulted in the lowest realistically achievable CO2 emissions levels, because it was based on the implementation of advanced technologies and energy efficiency initiatives, and involved a highly effective collaboration between government, industry, international institutions, NGOs and academia. Even then, CO2 levels would stabilize at around 650ppm…yet 450ppm is currently accepted as the viable maximum.

 We now understand that at this level various serious trigger points and feedback loops start operating. Not least of these is the acidification of the oceans, causing them to become a net emitter of CO2 rather than a sink. These increasing CO2 levels then feed back into higher temperatures, accelerating both ice melt at the poles and the melting of tundra ice with its consequent release of methane.

 It is now clear that technology alone will not ensure our survival. Much more needs to be done. The Blueprints scenario gives us a five-year window. We must act now!  In line with Einstein’s observation that ‘No problem can be resolved at the same level of awareness that created it’, it follows that only a world class ‘lifestyle behaviour change’ programme will  overcome the challenge humanity is facing. It is highly probable that the biggest obstacle posed by the question we are here to address is the lack of public engagement and real commitment to carbon reduction. A major lifestyle behaviour change programme is the only vehicle that could take us through this next challenging period with a realistic prospect of minimizing its impacts.


I have been engaged with this subject for many years and helped create the Global Action Plan Initiative 20 years ago – when there were no real drivers for change or apparent urgency, and we still reached 22 countries – as well as the more recent ‘Be the Change’ initiative.

There now is a clear and present urgency,  and the UK is uniquely placed to take a global leadership role in a new initiative because climate change legislation is already in place, and corporations and local authorities will need to deliver the reductions required by law.

I will not go into specific detail here as to the content or logistics of such a lifestyle change delivery programme, but in outline:

  • It is a community-based ‘bottom up’ process;
  • Local authorities and corporations become an effective delivery mechanism for empowering and resourcing their communities and employees to create eco-neighbourhood community groups;
  • These groups are imbued with the vision, role models, tools, implementation procedures, skill sets, and underpinning supportive structures to enable both visible and tangible success; and
  • Each individual feels that their contribution has value and their drop is helping to ‘fill the bucket’.

Humanity is the result of five billion years of earth’s evolution. We will discover within the next five whether we are still a viable species. If we cannot engage behaviour change at this scale we will have failed the ‘intelligence test’ that evolution requires us to answer. 

Now is the moment for us to be the change we wish to see in the world.

Lawrence Bloom, Chairman, World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Urban Development, Davos

4 responses to “Lawrence Bloom

  1. Quite right, the trajectory we’re on doesn’t work and the thinking we’re using won’t solve the problem. Shell’s concept of lowest realistically achievable levels of 650 ppm is ridiculous. These people are the last on Earth I would consult about what is realistic or achievable. Positive feedbacks are running like mad already with today’s GHG concentrations; methane from melting permafrost is already causing more methane from permafrost. If we want to hang around as a species we need to define a new trajectory for what’s realistically achievable that rapidly outpaces the trajectory of global problems.

    I suggest we can do better in Einstein’s name than a narrow focus on lifestyle changes. Narrow reductionist thinking got us into this mess and it certainly won’t get us out. I’m an old-timer at supporting local community initiatives but have no illusions that without wider systemic change, this is a dangerous decoy.

    The public and all the other players will respond if people like you, the umpires of the global economy, are willing to change the game. Reinvent ‘development’ to create net positive impacts. Rejig economics to reverse the problems that it has been causing. Create real, not imaginary, wealth and then share it.

    The tools to do this are realistic and achievable – please see the presentation linked to my name.

  2. MIT University does bring hope.
    They have explored innovative methods to capture CO2 right where it is produced in the chimneys!! MIT, among other institutes, is exploring algae as both an energy source, and an exhaust cleanser. Through a newly invented photo-bio-reactor, algae consumes CO2 emissions from smoke stacks, and reduces toxic pollutants from entering the atmosphere.

    It can turn CO2 into ”Algae Drink”

    Ocean, covering 70% of the planet, can be the solution for food, energy and CO2 balance.

    Michigan University researchers are studying diatoms, a form of algae found in Oceans, seas, swamps, where they multiply with photosynthesis consume CO2 and sink to the bottom of the Ocean when dies. Nature is wise and we only have to observe and mimic nature.
    UPF founder, Dr. Moon, has been studying the Ocean and its vast wealth for along time. I believe Oceans is the heritage of all living beings and can contribute to meet the Millennium goals.

    Dr. Marios Gerogiokas
    UPF-UK environment chapter

  3. I would say that The Venus Project has a very good solution to our problems.
    A Resource Based Economy would solve the worlds problems. The Monetary System no longer works and is a hindrance to our evolution and is what stopping us from becoming civilized.

  4. Would we really be worrying about the C02 levels if we hadn’t deforest 185 million acres of of our planet since the 15th century?

    Every problem we encounter on this earth, is our own doing. Want to know what’s wrong, look in the mirror, the answers will be staring back at you!
    Our current system of working is now outdated and obsolete. All the “Isims” have served us well up to now. Socialism, Communism, Capitalism and so on, but now we need to change. The greatest change the world has ever seen, and the hardest too! All the other problems pale into insignificance by comparison. Talk all you like about Co2 levels stabilizing if we do this, or do that. This or that, will probably mean more profit for Government and large corporations, and profit never has, nor never will take care of people. Certainly not the whole community anyhow. And if you don’t look after everyone, you going to have serious problems.

    If we continue to use oil and fossil fuels, the exponential values will give us very little time indeed. Soon we will reach “Peak Oil”, and then only the wealthy will be able to afford it. Already at least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.

    We have to start using the technology we have today to save the planet and our humanity.

    There are three forms of renewable energy that hold huge potential, but about which little is known. These three energy supplies have the ability to provide power for most regions of the world, but there is only a small amount of research being done in these, and progress is surprisingly slow. These three energies are geothermal, wave power, and tidal power.

    When we realise this, then we will be ready for the change we need. It’s just a choice, to change from a money based corrupted economy, to a fair for all, resourced based economy, that is, The Venus Project.

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