Climate Change, Economics and Creativity

Albert Einstein — 'We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them'.

Einstein, I argue that we need a creative and integrated response to climate change, that moves beyond market mechanisms towards deep culture change which embraces social innovation in our everyday life.

Climate change is a major threat to humanity. The scientific evidence is clear, that climate change presents serious global risks and there is a need for an urgent global response (Stern, 200:1). Climate change simultaneously presents an opportunity for humanity to think outside the square and create a new way of living sustainably everyday, a new way of understanding one another as a local and global community and a new way to govern, and care for our planet. This is a transformation that involves a process of social innovation where individuals or communities act to obtain results. These innovations are driven by behavioural changes, more than technology or market changes which typically emerge from bottom-up processes.

Enzo Manzini describes why social innovation is needed to address the various aspects of this problem. “Today, looking at the complexity of contemporary society, we can observe that people’s creativity, entrepreneurship, knowledge and skills are generating new and sustainable ways of living and producing. This represents a large social innovation process where solutions are conceived and developed by actors directly involved in the problems to be solved” – E. Manzini 2010 World Expo Better City Better Life

A fundamental belief in the market to deliver on the climate change problem as a sole mechanism is a flawed expectation. Because the market it’s self does not value all human needs and freedoms. There is a human predicament and the limitations of the material world in the way people must respond to climate change. The relationship between incomes and achievements, between commodities and capabilities, between our economic wealth and our ability to live as we would like (Amaryta Sen). There is a gap between the two perspectives of economic wealth and the broader focus on the lives that we lead, this has been a major cause behind climate change, a misunderstanding of what we value in our day-to-day lives. Aristotle said in Nicomachean Ethics “wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking, for it is merely useful for the sake of something else”.