Pitch

Fast climate rescue means tackling a really coherent whole - to reverse interlocked problem dynamics at planet scale.

Description

Summary

The big error that allows climate chaos to worsen is not technical but cognitive. We're caught in a mental trap where our thinking is unconsciously limited to systems we perceive as manageable, such as systems for making a living or raising awareness or shifting carbon. We consider these systems as coherent wholes yet they're actually just subsystems within a really coherent whole system of the planet.

We can escape the trap by extrapolating the integration of proposals for climate and related issues up to planet scale. Every kind of subsystem could reverse the problems previously caused. Taking this step challenges our innate cognitive dissonance -  it feels overwhelming and unmanageable. Yet this 'great escape' can make the climate problem manageable by observing that global problems and their causes are not just interlinked but interlocked. The climate has no 'climate solution' but climate security can be sought among other planet-scale goals by action that addresses a really coherent whole.

Making this great escape frees us to think of climate solutions as outcomes of basic defining choices about how civilisation operates. These choices are neglected within debates about technical aspects of subsystems. When no longer neglected, new choices mean a new planetary operating system where protecting the climate (and other requirements for a secure future) becomes standard operating procedure.

This will mean that society can think, learn plan and enact the rapid reduction of carbon emissions and the rapid expansion of carbon sinks. Civilisation can become quickly carbon-negative (including net-positive human impacts on ecosystems). This allows the fastest possible cuts to atmospheric carbon concentrations and the greatest opportunity for regaining climate stability.

Category of the Action

Integrated action plan for the world as a whole

What actions do you propose?

Physical actions: Rapid reduction of carbon emissions and the rapid expansion of carbon sinks. Civilisation will become carbon-negative.

Social actions:
Action 1. All official planning will include the shared goal of 'global security', which is all forms of security for all people. Global security = climate security + food security + economic security + environmental security + national security + water security +...  Global security requires planning for net-positive impacts. This replaces previous ineffectual plans for gradual improvement in problems. For the climate, action 1 means aiming toward net-negative emissions and for climate security to be sought in synergy with other facets of global security (which otherwise obstruct climate goals). The remaining actions make this possible.

Action 2. All formal education will aim to be led by curiosity rather than just delivery of predetermined content. This ensures that education builds rather than depletes society's capacity for original, creative and non-reductionist thinking. It will end the waste of time, money and human potential from teachers teaching and students attending - without engagement with learning. For the climate, action 2 means the spread of dialogue and decision-making based on thinking that's not restricted to standard debating positions. It creates a lifelong habit of active engagement with important ideas and issues.

Action 3. All national economies will design out the accumulation of wastes in ecosystems by requiring producers to pay a premium according to the risk that their product will become waste rather than a new resource for nature or people. The premiums will be spent cutting waste-risk by preventing wastes and making new resources, including expanding ecosystem productivity. This 'circular economy' is being actively planned in China, Europe and elsewhere. For the climate, action 3 provides a means for carbon pricing and support for emissions-cutting activity, within a wider economic framework where GDP growth can be preserved and all resource flows (not just carbon) are used efficiently without ending up dumped in ecosystems.

Action 4. International treaty to adjust GDP accounts to provide a political incentive for global security. Significant proportions of available funds and political attention are currently diverted to military preparations for insecurities, including climate insecurity. As insecurities worsen, more funds and attention are diverted, with predicted scenarios being unmanageable and unaffordable. This dynamic can be reversed by NATO's only published proposal to shrink weapons spending, by simply omitting weapons-related spending from GDP accounts, to become Gross Peaceful Product. For the climate, action 4 provides a major release of funds and political attention. Political decisions would be incentivised to prevent causes of conflict including climate instability. 

Action 5. International treaty to include guardianship within the ownership of any part of the Earth's surface. Modern culture has a self-defeating exploitive relationship with nature which allows systematic loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services including climate security. A shift in human-nature relations can be instituted by use of the convention of ownership which can be expanded to include a duty of guardianship for the natural capital of all land and waters. For the climate, action 5 creates a shared expectation that nature should be cared for not depleted and dumped into, thus enabling shifts of policy and behaviours to cut emissions and expand ecosystems. 

Action 6. Peer-led mega-philanthropy by the mega-rich, to settle otherwise unpayable ecological, social and economic debts. Inequality has reached levels where governments can no longer operate in the public interest. Carbon debts and other legacies of persistent unsustainability have created stockpiles of problems that can be tackled only by wealth on the scale of the stockpiles of surplus wealth of the world's mega-rich. It is in their self-interest to match these stockpiles, to elude a global economic, ecological and social collapse that would also hit them. For the climate, action 6 provides funds supporting the task of shifting surplus atmospheric carbon back into soils and ecosystems.

Action 7. Local and Central Creation of Money. The current form of money supply based on the creation of debt causes private and public debt to become increasingly unserviceable, house and commodity prices to escalate, natural resources to be exploited to try to repay interest charges, and an entrenched culture of austerity where ambition seems unaffordable. Money can be created locally and nationally by transparent public accountable bodies, then spent into circulation. For the climate, action 7 frees up public budgets and relieves the financial pressure to consume natural resources.

Ref: Seven policy switches for global security.http://blindspot.org.uk/about/#papers

Where will these actions be taken?

Globally

Who will take these actions?

Business and the public will press governments to enact the seven policies as a choice in favour of global security. Government will enact them in the interests of all stakeholders. The whole society will respond to the new planetary operating system by acting to reverse climate change.

What are key benefits?

Change that matches the character of the problem, since climate is solvable only as part of a coherent whole solution.

Reversal of previously intractable global problems including climate instability.

Change on a scale and speed previously unimaginable - hopefully fast enough to outpace positive feedbacks in problem dynamics.

What are the proposal’s costs?

The costs of change are fully funded by actions 3, 4, 6 and 7. The rise in financial activity will show up as increases in economic growth.

Time line

The actions are to be taken asap, marking a historic switch from destructive to regenerative civilisation in the medium and long term.

Sub-proposals

Many Climate CoLab proposals are linked since this proposal provides the enabling conditions (eg worldviews, political support, funds) for all other worthwhile proposals.

The following proposal expands on actions 3 and 7 to provide mechanisms for pricing carbon to cut emissions and concentrations. The economy is a carbon pump; let's switch it to reverse!

 

How do these sub-proposals fit together?

Explanation of model inputs

The Climate Interactive model used appears to allow only incremental improvements. Even the most ambitious settings fall short of the need to cut carbon concentrations. New models could be needed to demonstrate the potential of this proposal.

References

Paper published by NATO: Seven policy switches for global security. NATO Advanced Research Workshop, Split. Publisher’s link, slides, published paper.

This proposal is respectfully offered for judging but not for any prize.

Proposal summary
The great escape - to a coherent whole planet solution
Team proposal: Only members listed on the proposal's Contributors tab will be able to edit this proposal. Members can request to join the proposal team on the Contributors tab. The proposal owner can open this proposal for anyone to edit using the Admin tab.
Contest: Global plan 2014
What combination of actions can be taken in the world as a whole to address climate change?