Solving the climate crisis — Goals, focuses, tactics (a summary)

UPDATE: A complete list of climate series pieces is available here:
The Climate series: a reference post.
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This post is the summary that’s missing from the end of our most recent “solutions” piece:

Solving the climate crisis — Picking goals, focuses, tactics

That post listed five pieces of the “climate solution” puzzle:

As I see it, the climate-solution puzzle has these pieces:

  • Defining the problem correctly.
  • Identifying the umbrella solution — what high-level goal will solve the problem?
  • Choosing the right “ask” — making sure we don’t ramp up our forces, for example, and then ask for something that won’t be a solution (a surprisingly common mistake).
  • Identifying the focuses of action.
  • Choosing effective tactics and acting aggressively.

Each section above (“piece of the puzzle”) was discussed at some length and then bottom-lined. Here briefly are those discussions.

1. Defining the problem correctly

The problem has been characterized throughout this series, and recapped at the top of this post. From a solutions standpoint though, only these numbers matter:

  • If we stop now, global warming will reach 1½°C (3°F).
  • We’re currently on track for 6–7°C (11–12½°F).

Stopping at “only” 3°C is as difficult as stopping at 2°C, 4°C or even 5°C. No one in power wants to stop at all. Yet all added carbon is a problem.

Bottom line — What’s the real problem?

Slowing isn’t the problem. Stopping is the problem. No more man-made carbon should go into the air. We also need to characterize and prepare for the 1½°C scenario because it’s inevitable. The full discussion of this point is here.

2. What’s the umbrella solution?

We mentioned that near the top of the longer post, and we discussed it at length here. To repeat:

Put the carbon industry out of business.

The goal of the carbon CEO class is to make as much money as possible by putting carbon into the air. Our goal is to stop them. The only way to stop them is to put them out of business.

Bottom line — How do we solve the problem?

If the problem is putting no more carbon into the air, the solution is to put the carbon industry out of business. If we don’t do that, we’re toast. All “solutions” that include adding carbon to the air add to the problem. The full discussion of this point is here.

3. What should we ask for?

History is filled with good movements that asked for the wrong thing and got it. We should ask for what we really want. All of the climate crisis scenarios — from the inevitable 1½°C (3°F) scenario to any higher number — involve increasing levels of crisis. We want the absolute-least level of crisis.

Therefore, the “ask” of the climate solutions movement should be:

Stop Now.
Stop at the earliest possible second.

Our “Now” will either come sometime or never. Asking to “Stop later” (which Obama has recently done) always benefits the resistance. “Stop later” is the same as “Stop never.” Stop Now has the added advantage of being the only moral request.

Bottom line — What should we ask for?

The only way to stay under 6–7°C is by asking to Stop Now. “Stop later” is the same as “Stop never.” The full discussion of this point is here.

4. Who should the movement focus on?

The goal is to apply leverage to people whose actions matter. This includes the four groups of perps and the people. The perps are responsible for the problem. The people are needed for the solution.

  • Put very public focus on the perps to change their behavior.
  • Unconfuse the people.

This means:

1. The carbon CEO class should be painted as responsible, shamed wherever they go. These are the main beneficiaries of crisis and its chief causes. Make them the face of climate catastrophe. They are.

2. Carbon enablers in the political class are also responsible. They do the will of the CEOs. Incentivize a change in behavior by taking away what they want. Some should be painted as responsible. Others, like Barack Obama, should be put on the record. Just Say No to Keystone, Mr. Obama. In or out.

3. Carbon-enabling in Big Media is why people are confused. Some Media Bigs should be put on the record, forced to side either with or against the deniers. Others, like George Will, should be treated like the CEOs. The goal is to change their messaging.

4. Important denier “scientists” (the paid obstructionists) should be discredited professionally — painted as “whores” the way tobacco “scientists” are discredited. This means a serious campaign to take away the professional reputation of any climate denier who will not honestly confront the data.

5. The people should be unconfused, not punished. Right-wing rubes will never be “unconfused,” but thanks to the politicians and the media, most people are genuinely perplexed. They should be helped to understand.

An education campaign — “the data is in” and “here’s what’s coming” — should be combined with the four focusing efforts above. If some in Big Media, for example, start saying “the crisis is real,” our efforts are multiplied.

Bottom line — Who are we focusing on?

The perps and the people. Make the perps responsible as individuals; aggressively incentivize change of behavior. Perps include:

  • Carbon CEOs
  • Carbon-enabling politicians
  • Big Media
  • Denier “scientists”

Unconfuse the people with easy-to-grasp explanations. Don’t apologize, don’t speak to deniers, and don’t stop. Combine this campaign with the anti-perps effort. The full discussion of this point is here.

5. Tactics and action

Some tactics are implied above; other suggestions will follow. Regular readers know my thinking:

Using incentives to change behavior is especially important. If Obama thought his legacy were at risk, his behavior would change. If a “liberal” politician’s brand as a populist were threatened, his or her funding would dry up; this would also force a change of behavior.

There are examples of leveraged tactics in this post. Read about Color of Change and ALEC, then read about Joe Sudbay and Barack Obama. I don’t think a movement based solely on mass demonstrations will get the job done. The full discussion of this point is here.

Summary

What the above adds to:

  • Problem: Stop putting carbon in the air.
  • Umbrella solution: Put the carbon industry out of business.
  • The “ask”: “Stop Now” not later.
  • Focuses of action: The perps and the people. Paint the perps as responsible. Unconfuse the people with clear messages.
  • Tactics: Asymmetrical, leveraged, well-timed actions that need few resources. Incentivize the perps to change behavior. Tell the people the “data is in.” Tell them what’s coming.

The post that discusses these topics in detail is here.

Thanks for caring about this critical issue.

GP

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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