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Riding the Zeitgeist: A theory of change

Riding the Zeitgeist: A theory of change

What I say today everybody will say tomorrow, though they will not remember who put it into their heads. Indeed they will be right for I never remember who puts things into my head : it is the Zeitgeist‘ George Bernard Shaw

The word ‘zeitgeist’, originating with philosopher Hegel, is the descriptor for the spirit of a time. In 2019, a zeitgeist coalesced around the urgent need for climate action, and climate change became an acceptable and predominant point of conversation. There were many influencing factors – Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, international convention upon international convention, science upon science – but no singular reason for why, in 2019, just about everyone started talking climate. Unconsciously and sub-consciously, this zeitgeist had taken shape through liminal osmosis.

This same zeitgeist now propels big business and governments into ‘climate action’. With support from large sections of the climate-environment movement, techno-fixes that boost GDP and aim to maintain business as usual, are being rolled out under the guise of a ‘renewables’ transition. This ‘spirit of our times’ is a fraught fusion of progress and climate action, failing to recognise that one is the cause for the other.

Zeitgeists, by nature, are ethereal, multifarious, and ill-disciplined creatures, not easily tamed, nor dominated. The current ‘climate action’ zeitgeist, and its fractured nature, is not a fait accompli, but a malleable phenomenon prone to influence and change. As ‘progress’ cannot be sustained and ‘green hyper-growth’ will only destroy the Earth faster than business as usual, the spirt of our times is amenable to shifting – to becoming one less fanciful, and more closely matching reality.

Current zeitgeists now defining the beginning of the 21st century are in hot contention, not least because the era of progress has ended, and the #GreatDescent, well and truly begun…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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