One Degree War Plan? Or an Integral Future?

30 Aug

I recently ran across this paper by Jorgen Randers and Paul Gilding calling for a “One Degree War Plan.” The scenario it paints, with CO2 concentrations being well north of 1,000 ppm by century’s end, is sobering. They essentially call for a global mobilization on par with World War II. And to do it now.

Theirs is a detailed and well thought out plan. If implemented, it could very well save us from catastrophic climate change. They claim that the public will clamor for it after realizing that climate change is an existential threat.

I am doubtful. Theirs is a sound solution from the standpoint of politics and technology. What they do not take into account is culture and values. Without a shift in values, the likelihood that this plan will be adopted is vanishingly small.

I had the privilege of meeting Richard Slaughter at the most recent World Future Society conference in July. He is a leading advocate of an approach called Integral Futures. This approach models change on a two-axis graph, with four quadrants roughly corresponding to personal values, individual behavior, culture, and society. Slaughter argues that most futures work winds up in the behavioral and social quadrants, and doesn’t take into account the values and culture quadrants sufficiently.

This integral approach is necessary. We need technical solutions and political will if we are to make a transition to a post-carbon world. But these won’t happen without an inner transition first. Otherwise we risk a technocratic eco-tyranny.

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