What Can We Do About Climate Change?

A report written in 1992 (reference bottom of article) provides clear insight as to what needs to be done to prevent total destruction of our environment and way of life as we know it. My take on it, for current conditions:

  • Overcome power of vested interests
  • Build strong institutions
  • Improve knowledge
  • Encourage participatory decisionmaking
  • Partnership between developing and developed countries (i.e. bridge resource gap between haves and have-nots)
  • Communicate that protecting the environment will lead to MORE wealth, not less
  • Keep working on programs that reduce poverty (i.e., provide fair opportunities to access resources)
  • Clarify property rights
  • Expand access to education, birth control, sanitation & clean water, and agriculture
POINT ZERO: Agree on a target. We need to get Atmospheric CO2 back to 350ppm. ASAP.

1) Overcome power of vested interests

Who are these powerful vested interests? In the US, money controllers in oil, coal, power-generation companies, and their paid political agents. The Chinese government and others, like the Indian government, are pressured to increase the living standards of their poor to avoid revolution. They are doing this through unchecked environmental exploitation, and the US is complicit in accepting Chinese products at their borders.

What is being done to overcome their power?

Movements such as the Federal and CA Disclose Act are trying to pass legislation that would make money ties more transparent so that voters can better elect true representatives and make more informed votes on referendums.

Nothing is *really* being done to stop the exploitation of resources.

2) Build Strong Institutions

Institutions appear to be failing, as they fall more and more into private hands. Take our universities and medical institutions: Directors are paid insane salaries, bigger and better buildings are built, costs are going up to users exponentially, and less and less value is provided to those who need to use or work in the institutions. We are not getting smarter or healthier in the “old style” of institutions.

New institutions will come from actually creating value for users and workers. This is in infant stages around the country. I think of coworking places like HUB, and local wellness office collaborations and cooperative businesses.

New institutions will need to meet the needs of a mobile workforce, a greater % of poor people, etc.

3) Improve Knowledge

It’s hard to know where to go to find trusted knowledge, with the internet available to us today. Education projects like Coursera are extremely important in passing on information. There are no more trusted centers for information. We seek out experts on our own time, scrutinize them and trust what they say, and who our social networks refer us to. We use review systems like Yelp to help build a trust base for information sources.

4) Encourage Participatory Decision-Making

After moving to California from Montana, I was amazed at how many initiatives/propositions Californians were asked to vote about in local and state elections. Montana is now catching up, from what I hear. But we must find a balance between what the people can vote on and get educated about, and what our elected representatives should do, even nationally. I think when America was founded, it was necessary to send a representative to the White House because we could not instantaneously communicate with the people he would be meeting with nor be informed of all the issues they were considering. We trusted someone to take our issues into consideration. We live in a different world now, and we need to be more individually empowered in decisions of national and social importance. What is being done about this? I don’t know.

Let’s do something!!

5) Partnership between developed and developing countries

Obama has done a lot to improve our relations with the rest of the world. To be honest, this is the main reason I campaigned for his election and re-election. This is so important to keep improving relations at this point in time, no matter what else he has or hasn’t accomplished, it has been worth it to me just for this.

Unfortunately, no one in a position of power is demonstrating the balls/courage right now to step up as a world leader to change their  country’s economic policies enough to discourage carbon use at the rate we need to, to avoid mass poverty, chaos, and destruction on a larger global scale.

We are being told that change on this issue will come from the ground up. That is, developing countries, and those NOT in power will need to initiate change/partnership.

Those with the most to lose may have to band together to be their own heroes this time.

6) Communicate that the right environmental policies will create MORE wealth, not less

I’ve seen smatterings of this, but it needs to be more widely shoved into social media collective mind. How does changing our policies make us BETTER OFF FINANCIALLY?!?

Clean up the messaging and get it out.

7) Keep expanding programs to reduce poverty

This is helping (For example, I was able to escape poverty by means of social programs, BUT the best economic decision available for me out of college was to jump into an oil company). Where are the economic opportunities in things that do not destroy our environment? Yes, keep giving poor kids like me a hand-up. But give us a hand-up into something meaningful and helpful.

Economic advantages (subsidies, tax breaks) for oil companies must be taken away and given to cleaner fuels.

This became really unpopular after it was revealed that  a giant solar company failed with public money authorized by Obama. This is really stupid and underscores the public’s ignorance about entrepreneurship and technology development. THERE WILL BE FAILURE BEFORE THERE WILL BE SUCCESS. WE HAVE TO PAY FOR FAILURE TO GET TO SUCCESS. How many billions of dollars do we waste on worthless failed medical drug research each year, while nobody complains too much about the $600/month the state of California pays health institutions on behalf of EACH OF ITS EMPLOYEES for “health care”, 20-25% of which probably goes to subsidize such failed research. Money motivates ingenuity. Throw a billion-dollar X-Prize at Carbon Alternatives and see what we get, in a very short amount of time.

The public needs to be educated on what developing new technologies will cost them and what they will gain.

8) Clarify property rights

Poverty is forcing the hands of countrymen around the world and property is being whored out to the highest bidder. Countries are giving up their food and water rights along with their property. This is going to result in violence down the road. Buyers and sellers need to learn to relate to each other with some decency and foresight. Who is entitled to what property?

This seems like a government policy thing. Lobby for policy change, or demand property rights at a grassroots level.

9) Expand access to education, birth control, sanitation & clean water, and agriculture

I believe that traditional college learning is going by the wayside. People are getting priced and sized-out. Crowd-sourcing of education (again, Coursera is a pioneer in this, online telesummits, etc.) will be what will truly expand access to education. 30,000 people took a free course I signed up for last summer. This is “access to education” on a meaningful scale.

Even the extremist groups in the US keep threatening to shut down access to services like Planned Parenthood, etc. This is retarded and thankfully Americans see the need. Donate to keep these clinics open if you can. They are really wonderful places, from personal experience.

Sanitation and clean water goes hand-in-hand with poverty. Pollution plays a (small?) part too.

Agriculture seems to be going the way of decentralizing as a trend. People realize how risky it is to depend on megacrops thousands of miles away, and depend on the chaos of centralized, privatized success of megacrops (which comes with side-effects of pollution and greed and speculation profit) and the chaos of failure (which comes with disease and price hikes). Crops are going more local as a trend, but this needs to be done faster.


Inspired by:

“The World Development Report 1992, “Development and the Environment,” discusses the possible effects of the expected dramatic growth in the world’s population, industrial output, use of energy, and demand for food. Under current practices, the result could be appalling environmental conditions in both urban and rural areas. The World Development Report presents an alternative, albeit more difficult, path – one that, if taken, would allow future generations to witness improved environmental conditions accompanied by rapid economic development and the virtual eradication of widespread poverty. Choosing this path will require that both industrial and developing countries seize the current moment of opportunity to reform policies, institutions, and aid programs. A two-fold strategy is required.

* First, take advantage of the positive links between economic efficiency, income growth, and protection of the environment. This calls for accelerating programs for reducing poverty, removing distortions that encourage the economically inefficient and environmentally damaging use of natural resources, clarifying property rights, expanding programs for education (especially for girls), family planning services, sanitation and clean water, and agricultural extension, credit and research.

* Second, break the negative links between economic activity and the environment. Certain targeted measures, described in the Report, can bring dramatic improvements in environmental quality at modest cost in investment and economic efficiency. To implement them will require overcoming the power of vested interests, building strong institutions, improving knowledge, encouraging participatory decisionmaking, and building a partnership of cooperation between industrial and developing countries.”



And of course: An Inconvenient Truth (2006)