Diego Horcajada, November 2018. 5 min read.
“Higher temperatures are worsening natural disasters such as storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts. A warmer atmosphere collects, retains, and drops more water, changing weather patterns in such a way that wet areas become wetter and dry areas drier.” (Melissa Denchak from the Natural Resources Defence Council)
The latest IPCC report is an urgent call to arms to mitigate the consequences of climate change. We cannot prevent climate change, it is here to stay, but we can still work to mitigate its magnitude and therefore the consequences for our societies. But who will take the lead? Who will bring together science, business and governments to collaborate with a common purpose?
When I pay attention to these three groups (scientists, business leaders and politicians) I think we have something more profound than the misalignment among the three. I think each of them face a strong internal debate: the debate between staying in their respective comfort zones, or moving outside of them to meet each other with empathy, and to move towards the yet unknown zone of unselfish and generous collaboration.
Alexander Dumas, in his novel The Three Musketeers, presented a young man named d’Artagnan who brought together the strengths of three Musketeers to dismantle the conspiracy of the Cardinal Richelieu.
What’s going on here? you may ask. What is the link between climate change, Dumas and the Musketeers? … Bear with me and let’s see if we find some analogies and where they get us.
The Dumas’ Musketeers
The Musketeers were the royal personal guard for the king of France. I’m sure everybody remember the names of the three most formidable musketeers: Athos, Porthos and Aramis, three very different characters, each of them with a successful career. A profound sense of camaraderie unites them; they were known as “the three inseparables”. Yet the three had personal struggles preventing them to bring out their very best, and to become aware and eventually fight the menace of the Cardinal Richelieu and Milady de Winter.
- Athos – Comte de la Fère: Intelligent and courageous, precise in his sword fighting. Noble but very secretive. He is very protective of d’Artagnan.
- Porthos – M. du Vallon: The dandy, attracted to fashionable clothes and keen to make a fortune for himself. He compensates with his Homeric strength of body and character.
- Aramis – René d’Herblay: Romantic, hot tempered, melodramatic in his sword fighting. A young man who hesitates between his religious calling and his attraction for women.
- D’Artagnan – Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore d’Artagnan: The youngest, foolhardy, brave and clever man seeking his fortune in Paris. His strong character and determination pushed three Musketeers to face their own internal struggles, bringing out their very best to unveil and defeat Richelieu’s plot.
- Like Athos, successful politicians have proved their intelligence and courage; they won many “swordfights” to climb the ladder of power. And as Athos with d’Artagnan, politicians are supposed to take care of their fellow citizens.
- As Porthos, business leaders might be blinded by the shine of “gold”, the glamour and power it can buy. And as Porthos, business leaders have superior strengths, represented by resources of the businesses they lead.
- The same way Aramis struggled to choose between the religious calling and the flirt, scientists face difficulties to choose between doing research for personal enlightenment and connecting with non-scientific communities to share their knowledge in a simple and engaging manner.
And what about d’Artagnan? Who plays the role of Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore d’Artagnan in our race against time and the fight with climate change?
Let me tell you: this is you and I, all of us, the fellow citizens of our beloved politicians, those consuming the products and services provided by business, the ones not always understanding the messages of the scientific community. We are d’Artagnan. And just as d’Artagnan did, we have to be bold and confident in ourselves:
- We need to ask for more comprehensive and engaging messages from the scientific community: What does a Ton of CO2 here or there mean?
- We have to remind our politicians and policymakers that their primary responsibility is to protect the well being of their fellow citizens.
- We have to speak out loudly to the business community, each time we buy (or not) their products and services.
Fortunately we are not alone, like d’Artagnan was at the time of King Louis XIII. We do not need to take a sword to fight to the death for our beliefs. Today we have more and more organisations, lead by bold young men and women, whose mission is to help us better understand and fight climate change.
Here is just a very small sample of such organisations:
- Climate Kic with its education and engagement programs empowering the d’Artagnans of the world.
- The B Corp. movement guiding business leaders to use their businesses as a force for good, and certifying those who succeed in the creation of common good
- The Sum of Us, an organisation counterbalancing the power of industrial lobbies over the policy makers and legislators.
This post can only conclude with a loud “One for all, all for one“, let’s support each other with empathy, to guide our politicians, business leaders and scientists in the fight against climate change.