Thinking Out Loud No. 13
Beyond Net Zero, passive climate impact and expanded awareness video
There are now 73 of you, which blows my mind. Thank you so much for being here.
This week I explore the concept of 'beyond net zero', using coaching to leverage passive climate impact, and I share that delayed video on using expanded awareness to manage chronic pain. I hope you enjoy!
And as ever, if anything resonates then please hit reply – it makes my day.
Beyond Net Zero
Here in the UK we have a legal target to achieve 'net zero' carbon emissions by 2050. Net zero means that any carbon emissions into the atmosphere are balanced by an equivalent removal of carbon somewhere else. At net zero we'd have exactly no climate change impact – good or bad.
I'm thrilled about the net zero concept – and the UK's commitment to it – because that 'net' opens up some exciting new perspectives that somehow felt excluded from the discourse before.
The first perspective is, of course, the idea of removing carbon from the atmosphere. Ten years ago I was laughed at for discussing it, five years ago it was quietly included deep in climate models and now it's an implicit policy ambition. This is progress!
The second perspective is the idea of going further – beyond net zero. Introducing carbon removal means we'll need carbon removal infrastructure, representing a huge perspective shift towards restoring and enhancing natural systems. We'll be in a position to clean up our existing mess rather than just slowing down the rate of new mess we make.
This shift allows us to explore what a 'beyond net zero' civilisation might look like. How will we structure such a society, what will we consider to be important, how will we behave? As a concept, beyond net zero brings together many of the areas that I want to explore more deeply.
This brings me to a future fork in the road. Not all 73 of you, nor your future co-subscribers, will care about this. But writing a newsletter has been one of the best decisions I've made for unlocking my own creativity and I highly recommend it.
Having an outlet at the end of the reading / talking / thinking process has dramatically changed how I engage with information and ideas, where everything I read and every conversation I have becomes input for future writing. The writing itself has in turn improved my own understanding.
I want this flywheel of creative growth to be working for 'beyond net zero'. One day, I suspect it will become a newsletter of its own, but for now, I will make it an occasional guest feature of these newsletters. If you want to hear more on this then please let me know.
Rest assured though I will keep writing about being human, playing with awareness, the value of optimism and the other eclectic mix of stuff you've come to expect. For now I'm just excited to have pieced together more of the jigsaw.
Leveraging passive climate impact through coaching
As Millennial as this may sound, I am motivated by the idea of having a positive impact. Through my actions I can bring about some change that shifts the world towards something better, where I define 'better' through the lens of my own values. We all do this of course.
Professionally I have focussed on facilitating innovation in low carbon technologies needed to reduce the impact of energy systems on climate change. This has grown to include improving the lot of humanity over very long timescales with the belief that our potential is very much worth exploring.
My impact against these ambitions is limited to whatever I can achieve within the constraints of my 24 hour days and whatever intellect, creativity and power I have. I can work hard and collaborate with others who have broadly similar values, but it ends there.
But I'm also a life coach. It strikes me that I can use my skills as a coach to leverage my impact by helping to unlock the potential of others who themselves want to have positive impact. Drawing an analogy with passive income, where assets out in the world make money for you while you sleep, passive impact means playing a supporting role in the enabling impact of others.
Done right I suspect the passive impact in climate change could be very high. I suspect (but don't know) that the people on the front lines of tackling climate change are also the ones most likely to be negatively affected by the endless bad news involved in their work. Chronic anxiety isn't productive, so there's no reason that believe that chronic eco-anxiety would be either.
I'm excited to explore this further. We need everyone at their best to get through the coming years, so there must be a role in helping everyone get to their best.
Media of the week
Last week I mentioned that I recorded a video on using expanded awareness to manage chronic pain. This is a trick I picked up from my experience as an Alexander Technique teacher. Many of you responded positively to last week’s article on expanded awareness, so I'll be doing more of that.
This was my first time doing this kind of stand-in-front-of-a-camera-and-talk kind of thing. It’s far from perfect, it felt awkward, and it’s clear I’m a more articulate writer than speaker, but it was also really fun. Let me know if you want more like this as a push for me to do it again!
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