Climate Change Retreat

Sept 28 – Oct 1, 2017

Thinkers Lodge, Pugwash

Nova Scotia, Canada

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Climate Change & the Human Prospect: A Thinkers Retreat

A 3-day intensive discussion with global and local thinkers to define a path to restore and revitalize local communities in the face of climate change


In 1955 the Russell / Einstein Manifesto asked: “Shall we put an end to the human race?” Or, shall we learn to think in a new way, come together and ask what steps are now needed to avoid catastrophe? The threat was Nuclear War and just two years later in July of 1957, 22 scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain gathered at Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada to begin the process of mapping out those steps. This was the first meeting of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs that together with Joseph Rotblat were honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.

Since then, this ongoing nuclear threat remains, but we are also now faced with new pervasive threats of climate change and the overshoot of our planetary ecosystem. As Steven Hawking stated in a December 1, 2016 op-ed in the Guardian, “This is the most dangerous time for our planet.” For the first time in the evolution of mankind, we are at a critical juncture. How we move forward may well determine whether organized human life will survive in anything like the form we know or instead, continue on its way to disaster. Now is the time for serious dialogue and for the articulation of a new manifesto on how we must conduct our affairs if we are to continue as a viable species on planet Earth.


The Retreat

The Centre is gathering together a group of international thought leaders, scientists, policy makers and community organizers at the newly restored Thinkers Lodge – 60 years after the 1957 meeting – to discuss climate change and the impact it is having on local government, policy, business, and individual lives. The Centre hopes to take away from this retreat a collaborative way forward that empowers municipalities, local residents, and innovative businesses to formulate their own path to restore, revitalize, and regenerate their local places.

We recognize that real answers come from the periphery – from local communities that innovate and adapt, and move forward in new directions that can be described as more cooperative and compassionate than recent political and economic history suggests. As a way to facilitate real answers this retreat will weave together four threads of discussion, and create a message important for Canada and the world:

1. Using the world’s wisdom traditions as community narrative changers and the basis for change.  The retreat will draw on input from First Nations, Shambhala Buddhism, Laudato si, and other earth-protector traditions as guideposts for new directions.

2. The solutions as put forward in Project Drawdown will serve as a point of reference for the best available information on climate solutions – their beneficial financial, social and environmental impact over the next thirty years. To date, the full range and impact of climate solutions has not been explained in a way that bridges the divide between urgency and agency. Thus the aspirations of people who want to enact meaningful solutions remain largely untapped. We will explore the potential for scaling best mitigation solutions using Project Drawdown (www.drawdown,org).

3. Municipal Climate Change Action Plans (MCCAPs) that were required as part of the 2010-2014 Canada/Nova Scotia Agreement on the Transfer of Federal Gas Tax Revenues, provide municipalities with a framework for introducing climate change to local government and building knowledge and capacity.

4. Using these first threads as ways to build local community economic resiliency in a post-consumerism-focused world, and confirming a new narrative that the economy and the environment are not at odds with each other, but actually reinforce each other to build prosperity.

The closed retreat event has been limited to 24 invited Atlantic Canada region participants. To date, John Eaton, Thinkers Lodge Director, Chad Frischmann, Drawdown Science Director, and Michael Shuman, local economies expert and author, have been confirmed to attend the retreat as international participants. Atlantic Canada participants are those who have the capability to scale climate change solutions at the local level in the following areas:

  • provincial and municipal leadership;
  • local policy development and implementation;
  • community engagement;
  • business development, innovation and incubation;
  • national and international cooperation and collaboration


Student and Public Events

On Thursday, September 28, and Sunday, October 1, student and community public events are being held at several excellent venues in Pugwash.  These events are being designed to provide public engagement and education, artistic expression and community learning and celebration. 

For the public events there is no need for registration and there are no costs, although we will have donation boxes. You are welcome to attend anything you like, and we hope that you will. The events will be held in a variety of venues in the Village of Pugwash.  Please contact us if you have questions. We hope to see you there.


Project Drawdown

(adapted from

What is Drawdown? Drawdown is that point in time when greenhouse gases peak and begin to decline on a year-to-year basis. It is the most important goal for humanity to undertake. It is not a daydream because Drawdown is based on research that maps, measures, and models solutions that are already in place.

“At its core, Drawdown is a clear and detailed case of what is possible. We are counting what counts. By collectively drawing down carbon, we lift up all of life. We have the technologies, but we really have no sense of what it would take to deploy them at scale. Together, let’s figure it out.”

Drawdown starts to tell a new story of possibility, grounded in data and analysis. By cataloging what we already know how to do — and are already doing — we paint a picture of human brilliance, capability, and compassion. The skill and determination being expressed by humanity is a fact-based counter argument to the narrative that climate change is too vast, too hard, or too complex to tackle. In actuality there are many reasons to believe. Indeed, Drawdown analyzes 100 solutions that can be applied at the local community level.