I’ll have more to say about the 28th UN Conference of the Parties (a/k/a COP28) once it ends. (There always seem to be some surprises near the end.)

But for the moment, a few questions:

  • “Why consensus,” some have asked, rather than agreements among the handful of countries responsible for most of the emissions? (But then again, it’s not the little guys that represent the forces of “predatory delay.“)
  • Why condescension? (As when COP28 president Ahmed al-Jaber told Mary Robinson—Mary Robinson!—that he was there for “mature” conversation, as if she wasn’t.)
  • Why al-Jaber? I’m still trying to figure out why al-Jaber, (minister of industry and advanced technology of the United Arab Emirates, head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and chairman of Masdar* (a/k/a Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company)) was (s)elected to be president of COP28. And by whom.
  • And my perennial question:

Why the massive ongoing subsidies to the fossils—where we tax ourselves to invest in accelerating our own destruction?

Granted, there is progress in the mix, including the rapid growth in volume and reductions in price of renewable energy globally. The “progress” of the COPs isn’t just in [unfulfilled] pledges and [unrealized] treaties, but also in rising expectations and dismay around the world.

This will require bottom up action, not just top down. Fortunately the failures feed that.

Over the past four years, more than 700 people have engaged in an ongoing conversation about the challenge of Living Between Worlds. In this liminal time when, as Antonio Gramsci put it 100 years ago, “the old world is dying, and a new world struggles to be born.“

Now, in what Adam Tooze dubbed the polycrisis (hint: there is no “the“), what Daniel Schmachtenberger perhaps more accurately called metacrisis, what Gramsci more viscerally called the time of monsters, what Chauncey Bell simply calls a mess, we struggle  to find our footing. To find our bearings. To find our way. To find meaning. To live in these times, with grace, dignity, and power.

The conversations have been profound and provocative, covering topics that have included climate and covid (where we started in early 2020) to systems change, hope, capital-ism, and “can we afford a future?” (You can prowl the video archives here. And while you’re there, please like and subscribe!)

This month it will be experimental as well. We’ve trained an LLM (a large language model, also known as “an AI“) on the entire corpus of our conversations, to see what would be like to have a probing conversation with ourselves—or, more accurately, with a representation of ourselves that offers a different way of finding pattern (and perhaps meaning) then we do.

We hope you’ll join us to interrogate the beast, to see what it can and can’t do, to see how it might surprise us and what new conversations it might provoke in us, and to suggest whether and how we might develop it further. (And to see what tricks we have up our sleeves — some of which we think you’ve never seen before.) Register here to join us at 12p PST Wednesday December 20. (And every third Wednesday in 2024.)

Yep! It’s right around the corner.  So let me be the first to wish you pleace, love, and good vibes in the rich-in-holdays season of the approaching return of the light. And, as always, thank you for what you do in service a world that works.

Yours, in solidarity with life,
Gil Friend

CEO, Natural Logic Inc.
   Helping companies do business as though we actually belonged to the living world. And each other.
Fractional CSO, f/SCO micro-consulting
   On demand sustainability strategy & solutions, without proposals, contracts, or corporate approval processes.
Managing Director, Critical Path Capital
   Growing ecologically-grounded, employee-owned, community-rooted companies.
Coach/Mentor, Trimtab4Trimtabs
   A new kind of coaching…for a new kind of leader.

* Full disclosure: I was runner-up in the 2014 Masdar Engage blogging competition with my “looking backwards” retrospective on Palo Alto in 2030: How one small city advanced the “sustainability” revolution

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