Transition to a Post Carbon Society

I am launching a new think tank, Center for Planetary Culture, an organization dedicated to bringing about a global movement of civil society to confront climate change, before positive feedback loops lead to accelerated warming, jeopardizing the future of all life on Earth.

Our first research project and position paper will seek to address: What is a strategy for accelerated transition to a post-carbon society? What kind of technical and social infrastructure must be instituted? How can media be used to bring about this transformation? If you have ideas and want to participate in the project, which will include the creation of a Wiki, please contact us: research@planetaryculture.com. We need researchers, writers, editors, content curators, social media assistants, videographers, and more.

POST CARBON TRANSITION PLAN

(see the original posting on facebook)
As this is a working draft, we are aware this is missing many areas… we will put it up as a Wiki and invite people to contribute their expertise. 

Technical strategy – Technological / Ecological / Industrial

Social strategy – Political / Economic / Corporate / Military / International

Communication strategy – Media / Consciousness / Worldview / Culture

We take each of those levels and divide them into different areas of focus:

Technical Strategy

Adaptation and mitigation

In 2011, the last year that data is available, the global economy emitted 32.6 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. US – 5.5 billion. China – 8.7 billion. England – .5 tons. Germany – .7 tons. France – .4 tons. Brazil – .5 tons. In US, vehicle tailpipe emissions – 1.9 billion tons, electric power plants – 2.8 billion tons

At the moment, we are over 400 ppm of CO2, need to get below 350 ppm asap!

We are facing what could be an extinction event for humanity, even in the next century, with a 4 – 6 degree Celsius temperature rise possible by 2050.

Defining most resilient response to accelerated climate change, while undertaking efforts to reverse it.

Strategies for degrowth and deindustrialization that create minimal disruptions.

The technical aspects of relocalization, decentralization – shift to self-sufficient, autonomous communities, linked bioregionally and globally.

Bioremediation

Paul Stamets, John Todd, Buckminster Fuller Institute, etc.

Necessary global initiatives that can be scaled up rapidly: Massive tree planting campaigns. Painting rooftops white. Rainwater harvesting. Urban farming. Rewilding. Building wilderness corridors.

Look at indigenous practices in many areas, copy and scale up.

Other approaches to species extinction, ocean acidification?

Municipalities

Building ecocities and ecovillages on higher ground that have food, energy, industry, on site. Transition to self-sufficient communities. Earth ships. Emergency shelters

Energy: Energy transition plan: solar, wind, geothermal, next generation nuclear? Impact of peak oil must be factored in.

Energy

transitioning to locally produced renewable energy (Europe will have 20% renewable by 2025, America only 9% renewable.) Need Marshall Plan style accelerated transition plan.

Biofuels – algae etc. What level of production is possible?

Solar – what level of production is possible? Jeremy Leggett, Solar Century

Zero Point Field / Resonance Project – what’s happening?

Conservation – requires massive global initiative. Europe much better than US. Explore how much energy can be saved through conservation methods applied in all areas.

Agriculture

Agriculture – likely dire effects of rapid climate change will disrupt agriculture tables. (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/21/business/energy-environment/californias-thirsting-farmland.html – California producing 20% less rice and 35% less cotton this year – drought leading to rise in food prices).

What are the crops that can feed the world’s population most efficiently? Quinoa, alfalfa leaf (Pro Natura developed extract that can fulfill people’s nutritional needs for pennies a day).

Promote vegetarianism.

Research: Potential that a rapid global shift to natural farming methods in 3 years could restore carbon to soil in mass quantities, cut back global warming. Is there any benefit to GE for drought-resistant strains or for strains that fix their own nitrogen in soil?

Look at Cuba model – model for global self-sufficiency.

Transport

Transitioning from private cars to shared vehicles, promote/enforce minimal use.

Rebuilding public transport networks (recognizing peak oil issue).

Converting existing automobile fleet to run on salt water hydrolysis – feasibility

Mag Lev trains

Planes – algae based jet fuel, limited plane flights during transition phase

Industry

Transition to cradle to cradle practices in all areas

Eliminate unneccessary and wasteful manufacturing

Reduce dependence on distant supply chains

Transition from dependence on fossil fuels

Global Thermostat and Biochar: New technologies to remove CO2 from atmosphere: Should these be produced for the public good and distributed universally?

Bonus question

Even if we could get the atmospheric level of CO2 below 350 ppm rapidly, the perturbation of the climate has already started and may be irreversible. What other methods could be used to forestall or mediate it? Do we have to consider massive geoengineering projects like putting sulfur particles into the atmosphere or giant reflectors into space?

Social Strategy

We can see the technical/industrial changes that are necessary, what would these require in terms of changes to our social system on all levels?

Economic

Much analysis reveals that our current economic system is inherently unsustainable, forcing companies to pollute to maximize profit, forcing individuals to pursue short-term financial gain at the expense of the health of the whole. We need a structural transition in economic paradigm to bring about a sane, post-carbon civilization. At the moment, pollution and waste are externalities that don’t figure on corporate balance sheets. Current system forces corporations to corrupt regulatory system and sabotage ecological health.

Carbon credits: Critical analysis on why they don’t work. Creates a market for pollution, allows polluters to offload waste.

Bitcoin – value neutral, but potential of Block Chain architecture to create DAOs and DACs is extraordinary.

Micro finance: Empowering women in the developing world

M Pesa: Banking system in Africa via Mobile

The alternative seems to be defining a new ecosystem of currencies – instruments for exchanging value – that support ecologically regenerative values and behavior patterns. These include: mutual credit clearing houses: Local businesses, manufacturer and service providers can issue their own currencies, issue zero interest loans. A global trading currency that has a negative interest charge so it remains purely a medium of exchange, not for hoarding capital. One promising idea is building on the blockchain architecture of Bitcoin, to create distributed autonomous organizations where anyone can become a shareholder, which are designed for limited purposes, and have environmental benefit.

Political

The current political system is actually a political-economic system, where the economic system drives the political decisions. In the current US system, politicians are controlled by lobbyists. Example: more than 90% of US citizens want mandatory labeling of GMOs, yet it doesn’t happen. Our current government was defined in the late 18th Century when horse and buggies were the fastest mode of transport. The current form of representative government must be supplemented or replaced by a direct, participatory mode that allows for much more rapid response. This new form of democratic infrastructure must be transparent, with all decisions based on authentic rationality, not irrational rationality.

Developments in social technologies and social networks over the past decades point toward a new cooperative, democratic infrastructure that could replace or transform the current political, corporate, and financial structures, quite rapidly. History reveals that social-political-economic structures are entirely related to the predominant media technology: Empire requires a code of laws; the modern nation state required the printing press and mass literacy. Interactive media points toward a direct democracy or a “liquid democracy,” that incorporates elements of socialism and anarchism. Such a system could gently but rapidly supersede the current political and economic structures.

The path requires both direct engagement with the current political and financial structure, along with the rapid construction of an alternative infrastructure that supersedes them.

National and Supra-national organizations: Today we have local governments, national governments, and supra-national organizations including the UN, the World Bank, and many NGOs, like World Watch and the World Wildlife Fund. There is also the new breed of philanthrocapitalism, particularly the Gates Foundation and Soros’ Open Society. Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest. Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: Accelerating climate change represents the final, disgraceful failure of neoliberal ideology. What infrastructure of social technology could mesh together the global movements discussed by Hawken in Blessed Unrest (look at Wiser Earth as an example of a failure)? What is the current impact of World Bank, UN programs?

Concentration of private wealth has created a very unusual situation where private individuals have enormous power – more power than entire countries.

Develop a protocol for rapidly building and scaling peer-to-peer networks for economic exchange and political decision-making that can first augment and eventually supersede the current broken system.

Indigenous resistance movements; peasant and worker resistance movements; Zapatista movement in Mexico, etc.

Corporations

I discuss my views here: http://www.evermanifesto.com/issues/issue-03/the-bigger-picture

“We have to think in terms of transitional strategies and ultimate goals. I think that corporations are going to be hamstrung, if they are publicly traded, by the need to maximise shareholder value. Still, in the interim, if a Coke or a Walmart transitions to a certain level of sustainability, it has a big impact on the planet. Down the line, if Walmart became cooperatively owned by its workers and stakeholders, grew organic food on its rooftop gardens, developed on-site manufacturing using non-destructive materials powered by renewable energy, offered continuing education and childcare for all of its workers, I might buy stock.”

Military

Demilitarization and pacification – define a path to world peace

Military bases re-purposed as cultural retraining programs – meditation, nonviolent communication, community development.

Future conflicts will be resource based, directly related to climate change:

Years of Living Dangerously: Syrian War is based on river drying up. Russia’s militarism as a grab for increasingly scarce raw materials.

We need to construct a universal and comprehensive program for equitable sharing and conscientious conservation of the Earth’s remaining resources: Or we will have increasing global conflict as resources become scarce, leading to terrorism and potentially nuclear war. This requires a shift in world view and consciousness.

International Relations/Cultural differences

Every culture has its own unique set of conditions. Anthropologists need to be employed to find the leverage points in each culture to engineer conscious awakening and systemic change. For instance, China has a very complex web of reciprocal relationships, through family clans, that mesh their society together. Peter Buffett: Reconnect China with its indigenous heritage, use its underlying culture to shift it off its current path. Same for every culture: find the critical path back to balance.

Communication strategy

Consciousness

We face many tremendous obstacles, but the greatest obstacle we face is the blockage in human consciousness. This blockage has kept people from understanding the situation, thinking for themselves about it, exploring the path to a solution, and reckoning with the level of change and transformation that is unavoidable, to prevent the human species from annihilating its ecological basis and rapidly depopulating or perhaps going extinct.

We need to define a positive outcome and vision for human society, post transition. We are moving toward a post-work, cradle-to-cradle civilization that will ultimately provide sustainable abundance for all. We are shifting from hierarchical and authoritarian power structures to a system where people are direct participants, where local communities are organized without domination or control.

We can, potentially, terraform other planets and explore the physical cosmos, as a future mission.

Religious aspect: We might define a new religious initiative, seeking to integrate the inherited religions and esoteric traditions of the past with science and technology. We can conceive of a “pyscho-technic” civilization, where investigation of consciousness through esoteric techniques is part of the new paradigm.

Media

On a mass scale, the world population has been indoctrinated by mass media to adapt a set of consumerist and materialist values and behavior patterns. Media is a consciousness control system – a factory that produces subjectivity. We need a strategy for penetrating the current mass media with a new vision and worldview and a solution-based approach to climate change. Simultaneously, we need to build alternative media networks that are authentic, responsive, and transparent.

We need a mimetic strategy: The meme of climate change / global warming has failed to impact global practices. What are alternative memes? We propose the model of transition to a regenerative society, or resilient society. A new effective mimetic strategy must be defined. One way to propagate it is through public artists and other cultural influencers, like successful entrepreneurs, who now have direct access to mass audiences in the tens of millions.

Worldview

We need to criticize the Neo-environmentalist faith in rapid technological progress, also technological utopian visions like Peter Diamandis (X Prize), Ray Kurzweil (Singularity), etc. This has been the dominant ideology of corporate leadership. It can no longer be maintained: We are seeing that continuing “business as usual” or expecting purely technological innovation to lead to solutions in the present system will not work. We therefore need to use media, communications, mimetic strategies, to engineer a transition to a new worldview, a new system of ideology, values and beliefs. We can identify the “early adaptors” to this worldview among the cultural creatives. But even there, we can see that values and behaviors don’t always match.

We need to define a new worldview that recognizes the limits of technological progress, as well as the necessity of further technological development, particularly in areas of sustainable and mass-distributable technologies (permaculture kits, window farms, kits to convert engines to run on salt water or biofuel).

**

ps –

Some notes from Nafeez Ahmed’s Crisis of Civilization:

George Monbiot, Age of Consent – decentralization of power and the increasing empowerment of communities; self-organization

Development as Freedom – Amartya Sen: Growth should be redefined as the increase in the capability of all human beings to achieve those things that they most value.

Parecon – Michael Albert and Robert Hahnel – economic system based on participatory decision-making thru self-managerial producers and consumers councils . New Economics Foundation 2008 report – massive investment in renewable energy creates 100,000s of jobs. Institute of Science in Society – renewable energy blueprint

Theory of Binary Economics – Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler – mechanisms by which individuals and communities can be apportioned ownership of productive resources in accordance with their labor.

Employee Stock Option plans – 11,000 companies in the US

Community Investment Corporations: We need transition to “widespread distribution of private ownership of productive capital” – distributed or democratic ownership.

Apr 23rd, 2014