Brilliant Bioneers

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I had the privilege this past weekend of attending the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California. If you care about our planet and the people and creatures that live upon it, and you’ve never heard of Bioneers, then do yourself a favour and check out this incredible event and network.

It’s a three-day event that has been happening annually for 17 years now. Every morning there are plenary speakers, and the afternoons are devoted to break-out sessions and panels. One of the coolest parts of Bioneers is that after it grew too big for the Marin Center where it’s held, they began holding satellite conferences all over America. This year, there were 18 satellite events, which all feature live simulcast video of the plenary speakers, and then local workshops in the afternoons.

The planary speakers are always exceptional – some of the most visionary and inspiring leaders working in the fields of environmental protection, social justice, responsible business, environmental justice, and spirituality. See here for a list of the 2006 plenaries – all of which are available for download. The line-up of speakers is always notable for its breadth and its diversity, and really demonstrates how many ways there are to leave the world a little better than you found it. Each of these speakers has found their niche and is clearly passionate about their work in the world.

What struck me during the weekend was the way that climate change permeated ALL other discussions. Within the social change movement, there is widespread agreement that it is the single greatest threat faced by humanity, inseparable from almost any other issue.

It’s also a unifying issue – it’s about the environment, but it’s also about social justice. Its effects will be worse on marginalized communities, though it will leave none of us untouched. It’s an issue that will challenge us to learn to work together, locally and globally, and to join our movements for a better world.

There was zero discussion about whether it’s happening – just a widespread and implicit agreement that we are facing a tremendous threat and that addressing it will require us to think beyond anything we’ve thought before.

I can’t help but think that if our friends the skeptics had been sitting in the audience, even they would have been persuaded. We cannot afford to argue about whether it’s happening. The science is clear. It’s time to look past our differences and recognize our common hope for a peaceful, livable world.

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