May 2018Strategy

Long-term Thinking and Climate Change

Humanity’s efforts against climate change will lead to one of the biggest changes in our culture, politics, and thinking.  Most people are used to thinking in terms of the here and now.  A few view time in terms of a decade or more.  Some countries like China have achievements that have lasted over thousands of years like their wall and their canals.  In feudal times people could think in centuries as they built cathedrals. But capitalism generally thinks in much shorter terms.

However, climate change will challenge us to think and plan in terms of decades and centuries.  Right now many think that climate change will slowly increase and eventually slowly decrease, but there may be feedback loops that will speed up carbon release.  One possibility, for instance, is that when snow melts and uncovers arctic ground, stored carbon may escape, marginalizing our efforts.  We will see the cost of short-term thinking, as it will waste trillions as coastal cities are rebuilt again and again.

The majority of people identify locally and nationally, but climate change impacts us worldwide and will be increasingly dangerous unless all nations commit to change.  To stop climate change, humanity’s worldview needs to be international.  The slowness in adopting real solutions to climate change will eliminate nations and states.

Climate change will mainly be mitigated by the transition to renewable energies.  Renewable energies can often be local and distributive, negating some of the roles of traditional utilities and opening the way for local control and less-powerful national agencies and corporations.  Instead of moving oil and coal across oceans and continents, we can unite people’s resources by local renewables, which can also provide recovery from a crisis more quickly by using micro grids to balance energy sources.

The fossil fuel industries are fighting change by plowing millions and millions into political opposition and fake news to retain fossil profitability as long as possible.

To get to the necessary future, we will have to develop our internationalism and change the motivations of our organizations.  We are born and die by ourselves so identifying as individuals is understandable.  However, unless we view ourselves as humanity, we will not get the job done in good time if each person and country fights for his, her or its advantage.  Individualism and nationalism during the long duration of climate change would cost humanity trillions and waste millions of lives.  Instead we need to be able to think of how we work as social systems, organizations, and environments across borders, so we can better work and plan together.

We need to fully integrate science into our worldview and thinking.  When we see Puerto Rico totaled by a hurricane and taking many months to recover, it should be obvious that we are in a new and changing situation.  Putting up the same telephone poles and rewiring them should be questioned as officials expect different results by doing the same thing.

Every grade school kid should understand that as CO2 increases, the weather gets warmer and the air will hold more energy and water.  That leads to global seawater rise, stronger storms, and as Greenland ice melts, weakening the Gulf Stream, winters get colder in Europe and northern states.  Over time we will have new climates and will have to plan and change how we do things.  It should be obvious to scientists, engineers, and leaders that we should be not only studying the changes, but also looking how to live and build in our new environments.

A study of how systems and society and the planet function are necessary to plot how we make social change.  Karl Marx had insights as to how society functions and Marxism needs to be studied, but with humility, as how a society functions is far from simple.  The social classes Marx knew have been transformed.  Humility, environmental analysis, cooperative labor policies, and keeping an eye on objectives may keep Marxist analysis and study humane, sane, functional, and growing.

Using long-term thinking and plans could give the world a credible chance to limit climate change’s effects in the next century or two.  We need a new Marshall Plan like the one we had after World War II.  This time we need a mobilization of all developed countries, their education systems, their industry, and their science capabilities to transition the world to renewables.  The goal needs to be to make all countries collaborative across borders and capable of running the educational, building, industrial, and research assets needed to make the transition.

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