Overcoming the Dissociation Crisis

A report on the Global Online Policy Forum: Solutions from Crisis, from the Pathway to Paris project…

Systems thinking views systems as already containing the expression of their own virtues and their own failings. A system cannot fail, unless the failure is made possible by some component of the system. In our use of energy, in contact with the Earth’s climate system, there is a flaw: our system is not designed to maintain a reliable climate-energy balance. So, we are pushing past the limits of the system, and motivating/encountering disruption. If we understand this, we can better see our limits, understand our strengths, and leverage the virtues of the system to achieve an outcome conducive to human thriving.

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Climate Change is a Threat Multiplier

Climate Security Roundtable at American Legion discusses nexus between energy, water, food & national security

Citing the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, Brigadier General Gerald Galloway (ret.), on Friday June 27, told representatives of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Earth Policy Institute and Citizens’ Climate Lobby, that “climate change is a threat multiplier” and will shape the future operating environment. As water and food become more scarce and life-supporting ecosystems are degraded, as the costs of coping with disasters rise, the opportunities for chaos and instability to take root also increase.

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Free Our Energy Markets

Climate change is a market failure—the most costly in world history. The failure of so-called “free markets” to accurately express the cost of carbon-emitting fuels in consumer prices has led to the accelerating destabilization of global climate patterns. That failure stems, in large part, from the fact that our energy markets are not free and open at all, but rigged to favor specific enterprises that deal in specific high-emitting fuels.

We can free our energy markets in a way that allows both conservative pro-business free market thinkers and also progressive pro-environment zero-carbon crusaders to come together and to vote for a brighter, more prosperous future. First we need to unrig the energy marketplace, and then we need to make sure we do so in a way that does not punish households and communities or impede their ability to transition into the new open market.

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Sun > Earth = Abundance

Between 1927 and 1983, the architect and philosopher Buckminster Fuller wrote and spoke often about the logic of a cumulative and self-accelerating ephemeralization of the products of all encounters between human knowledge and technology. As Fuller explained in his book Critical Path, when Magellan’s crew completed the first maritime circumnavigation of the globe, the journey had taken 2 years; when the first steam ship did it, it took 2 months, the first airplane 2 weeks and the first orbiting space capsule 2 days. We are now a lot faster on all fronts.

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8 Steps to Fuel Free Sustainable Democracy

We can build a 100% fuel free full-spectrum sustainable democracy.

With 8 conceptually simple, and practically far-reaching framework upgrades, we can accelerate the pace of change and motivate a paradigm shift in the way we address climate destabilization, without any command-and-control or dubious financial wizardry:

  1. Full-spectrum sustainable communities (FSSC)
  2. Calculation of climate debt amassed to date
  3. Focus on speeding over the horizon tech to market
  4. Smart grid
  5. Solar highway infrastructure
  6. Maximum flexibility in clean fuel choice
  7. Grassroots-capacitative Fuel Free Media Network
  8. Citizen leadership on federal policy-making

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Answers for Crafting National Carbon Pricing Plan

There is a new bicameral Carbon Fee coalition in the House and Senate. The coalition is led by Rep. Waxman, Sen. Whitehouse, Rep. Blumenauer, Sen. Schatz & their respective staff, and they are asking for public comment.

Here are the four questions upon which the legislators are seeking particular guidance:

  1. What is the appropriate price per ton for polluters to pay? The draft contains alternative prices of $15, $25, and $35 per ton for discussion purposes.
  2. How much should the price per ton increase on an annual basis? The draft contains a range of increases from 2% to 8% per year for discussion purposes.
  3. What are the best ways to return the revenue to the American people? The discussion draft proposes putting the revenue toward the following goals, and solicits comments on how to best accomplish each: (1) mitigating energy costs for consumers, especially low-income consumers; (2) reducing the Federal deficit; (3) protecting jobs of workers at trade-vulnerable, energy intensive industries; (4) reducing the tax liability for individuals and businesses; and (5) investing in other activities to reduce carbon pollution and its effects.
  4. How should the carbon fee program interact with state programs that address carbon pollution?

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The Sandy Chronicle: Our Humanity Matters

Here’s the thing: Superstorm Sandy was water, wind and motion; it was convergence; it was what happens when climate systems come together and collaborate to make the unbelievable happen. The hybrid superstorm altered the entire calculus of local and national government across a region. Our priorities were altered, and many lives will never be the same. The frailty, the vanity, the ephemeral nature of our built environment, came into stark contrast.

There are important ways in which Sandy makes us see what we might not otherwise have noticed:

  • In New York City, for instance, it is now clear that gas stations can sell more gas during a crisis of this magnitude, if they have gas-powered generators to back up their electricity supply.
  • The value of maintenance—especially with respect to 1) transport infrastructure, 2) electric grid infrastructure, 3) mobile communications redundancy, 4) building service supply infrastructure (heat, hot water, electric)—cannot be overestimated.
  • Preparedness Matters.
  • Electrified water not only starts fires and can consume neighborhoods; it kills on contact.
  • As the Roman stoic philosopher Epictetus always already knew: there are certain factors involved in our experience over which we have little to no control; knowing which are which can be a matter of life and death.
  • Tunnels can and will flood; tunnels can and should be sealed in case of flood emergency.
  • Building the electric transport future means we need to build more resilient electric power delivery systems, with more layers of redundancy, more localized generation, more flexible power sourcing.
  • It turns out people want to help people and will do so when motivated—by Mother Nature, by the needs of others, by conscience and by the example of others.

We find that people are the ones who labor to help people. While the natural order puts fragile human lives on the line, and ideologically motivated or materially focused politicians quibble over process and pet peeves and secret deals, ordinary people come to the rescue of ordinary people.

One of the greatest stories of the Superstorm Sandy saga has been the volunteer work. Specifically:

  • Occupy Sandy has arisen as a new operation for the original Occupy Wall Street media outlets, which have been used to not only locate and share information about hotspots of serious need, but also to organize spontaneous pools of volunteers.
  • Volunteers from the Gulf Coast have come with supplies, expertise and open hearts, telling anyone who will listen that they recall the eagerness and aplomb with which volunteers from the northeast rushed to the Gulf to help after Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill; even members of Congress have vowed to reinforce that grassroots inter-regional partnership among citizens and communities.
  • People taking interest in their communities are helping to inform the city, state and federal governments, along with utilities and emergency workers, where to go and what to do to maximize or optimize their impact on disaster relief.

The state of New York is now asking for a $30 billion supplemental spending package to help New York City and Long Island recover from the disaster and “harden” the built environment against extreme weather events. Something is happening to the climate, and it is threatening to undermine the normal functioning of civilization as we have known it. Public authorities are waking up, and citizens are demanding government that works.

New Jersey’s governor even talks about raising taxes to pay for disaster relief and future preparedness.

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