How to Change the Climate Story: Paul Hawken

Want to avoid climate disaster? Abandon the “wussy” language of climate mitigation as well as war metaphors, and develop more positive ways of thinking about the issue, said American environmentalist Paul Hawken at a recent conference in Sydney.

Author: Vaidehi Shah | Published: March 14, 2018

To generate effective, universal action that will solve the problem of climate change, the global community needs to abandon the “wussy” language of climate mitigation and rethink the “negative” sports and war metaphors that are pervasive in discussions about the issue.

This was the advice offered by American environmentalist, author and activist Paul Hawken at the recent Purpose conference in Sydney.

Speaking to a 500-strong audience at Commune in Sydney, Hawken said that the term “climate mitigation”, which is commonly found in government policies, international negotiations in the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, and scientific reports isn’t strong enough.

“When you are heading down the wrong road towards a cliff, the only thing that makes sense is not to slow down and go over the cliff slowly, but to stop and turn around,” said Hawken.

This is why, instead of the prevailing narrative of mitigating climate change, Hawken champions the notion of reversing global warming. Last year, Hawken co-founded the Drawdown Project, which maps, measures, models, and describes the 100 most effective, economically viable and scaleable solutions to reverse global warming.