Note — Aug 29, 2021

Open Climate Now!

Seen in → No.185

Source →

Presenting a very promising direction, the group of authors writing for Branch avocate and give a very thoughtful and solid rationale for Open Climate, a merging of interests between the Open and Climate movements who share a lot of values and ideals but somehow never seem to properly connect and benefit from each other.

Perhaps you’ll call me naive or assert that I’m just revisiting old ideas I should already know well but through the whole piece, I kept thinking of capitalism vs the commons, that so much of our collective problems rest in the enclosure, appropriation, and out-right capture of various commons by extreme capital. The authors are basically saying that the people who share common code and practices and the people trying to protect and reclaim the natural commons should work together.

If you start from a common planet, everything we live within and have created is in some way built from, with, or over common goods, spaces, and technologies. The iPhone, famously through Mazzucato, uses lots of publicly funded technologies, Uber runs on public roads, Big Tech in large part runs on the commons of Open Source software, as mentioned in their article. The real tragedy of the commons (a dangerous myth, btw) is not over-exploitation by communities, but rather enclosures by Capital. Communities and restrained markets can use the commons sustainably, unbridled capitalists don’t.

‘Neo-luddites’ don’t refuse technology, they consider it carefully, and there’s also a need for ‘neo-commoners’ who protect the commons and consider markets just as carefully.

Most of the authors in the mainstream literature on the digital commons focused on solving market failures around information sharing rather than about criticizing the voracity in which corporate capitalism appropriated the public domain. […]

[T]he ability to appropriate resources without paying for them is crucial for building surplus value. In the end, the story of the commons has not been one about movements working together towards the same goal, but rather about movements witnessing the same tragedy happening in different spaces. […]

[T]he commons also requires, firstly, to emphasize the urgency of planetary health from multiple communitarian standpoints, and secondly our willingness to listen, to share, to reach consensus, to trust, and to agree to work together for the commons. […]

We understand the need to broaden our agendas to encompass much more than IP reform and reconnect our concern for the commons with calls for environmental justice, bringing the needs of communities to the table as basis for negotiation, instead of abstract reasonings behind the definition of intangible property. […]

When we center climate action around those who carry the burden of environmental injustice on both a big (increasingly strengthened hurricanes) and small (daily street flooding during “normal” storm events) scale, we are able to see new applications for open technologies and methodologies. We begin to understand pressing ecosystem-wide changes that will occur not just to the environment, but to our societies at various levels.