We have said before that Worldchanging has produced a great book; we can also attest that they are putting on a great road show. We caught up with it at the Berkeley Church in Toronto last night; Editor Alex Steffen's hand must be tired this morning because the book was flying out the door. A couple of hundred people gathered to hear Edward Burtynsky start the ball rolling.
Ed won the TED prize a couple of years ago, looked around for worthy causes where his donations could make a real difference, and settled on Worldchanging. He presented a slide show of China that so evocatively demonstrates the insurmountable scale of the problem we face, the massive increase in CO2 that is inevitable. His photographs are stunning, both in their quality and in their impact, it is almost science fiction, none of it looks real. We in North America just have no idea of the scale of what is happening.
From Ron Dembo of Zerofootprint, we learned a couple of things: Never use your camera on max zoom with no flash, and how carbon offsetting, which always seemed a bit like buying indulgences, actually does work. He calculated the Ed's carbon footprint, (49.3 tons of CO2, mainly flying) hit him up for $ 493, and planted forests in British Columbia that absorb that much carbon. He then certifies it and documents it; It really does make sense. Ron also is offsetting the entire carbon load of the Worldchanging road trip.
Then Alex led us through the idea of the book and some of the key concepts. He is pretty straightforward about what is happening: Almost everyone is convinced about climate change and everyone else is just wrong. We are facing a crisis of major proportions, but unlike Monbiot or Kunstler, he remains positive. He is convinced that we can still have an affluent and comfortable society while radically cutting back on consumption and generation of CO2. He thinks that the third world can benefit as well, and demonstrated a series of innovations such as the Lifestraw or pumps powered by kids playing. He remains an optimist, which you really have to be if you are going to deal with this stuff every day.
In the end a good time was had by all. We urge anyone in the path of this tour to get to the party, listen to the speakers, buy the book and give Alex's hand a workout.