Captain Planet: inspiration for unusual alliances

Captain Planet: inspiration for unusual alliances

By Amy Huva

April 20, 2012

I’ve been a bit down on humanity in the last week or two. Every time I turn around, there’s a new report or talk or version of ‘we’re all going to hell in a hand basket’ and no matter how many times this gets repeated with greater and greater urgency, it seems like none of our country’s power brokers are willing to heed it.

Saving the planet all on your own is an impossible task. As a child, I loved the TV series Captain Planet where five different youths were given rings with different powers; Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, and Heart. They worked together to stop the polluting bad guys (with hilarious names like ‘Looten Plunder’) and if the going got tough, by their powers combined you got Captain Planet who would save the day! They also had environmental messages at the end of the show like ‘always turn the light off when you leave the room’ that are considered quaint nowadays (it’s good to see we have made some progress).

So when the government is not providing any leadership to foster the transition to a low carbon economy, I think it’s time to make a team, just like Captain Planet.

Green power

We have the technology available to make the transition to a low carbon economy. There are new technologies for batteries that are better able to store energy. There are promising renewable power hybrid schemes where excess solar or wind energy pumps water into a storage area to be used as hydro when the solar or wind generation drops off. Added bonus – wind turbines are really elegant – much nicer than an open-cut mine.

If the energy playing field was levelled and the huge subsidies to fossil fuel companies were removed, renewable power would be very competitive. The only reason oil is relatively cheap is because we’re not paying the full cost, the cost that reflects the pollution and lifecycle costs.

So how do we kick start the transition? We can get around political intransigence through unusual alliances, similar to how the Great Bear Rainforest Initiative was achieved.  Not only did environmental groups, First Nations groups and the provincial government manage to all agree, the forestry industry bought in too, which was crucial for the success of the agreement.

Environmental groups working with logging executives? Exactly the kind of alliance no-one would think of, and a big reason why the initiative was so successful. Similarly, Tides Canada is working on their Energy Initiative which has been endorsed by a whole range of groups, from industry to finance and even church leaders. There are the dialogues hosted by Carbon Talks that bring diverse interests together to reach solutions. There’s the Western Climate Initiative that will eventually implement a carbon emissions trading scheme that will link several provinces and California in their bid to transition to a low carbon economy.

There’s even a plan for how we can do it. So let’s skip the never ending arguments with deniers who are too vested in the status-quo, let’s ignore the nasty rhetoric coming from Ottawa, and let’s make use of the new energy paradigm that’s coming. Let’s look to building alliances with industry groups or businesses that wouldn’t traditionally be considered ‘green’ or working within supply-chain logistics to create change.

There’s a whole new industry to build and a planet to save with our new teams. Go Planet!

(Icon photo courtesy of, wind turbine photo courtesy of Ole Houen/Flickr)

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