How Can We Stop Global Warming?

 

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The Hierarchical Strategy

involving Group Focused Letter Writing And Face-To-Face Dialogue And Learning Support 

www.stopglobalwarming-newstrategies.net

Dr. Michael Tuckson

The ‘hierarchical strategy’ advocated here involves a combination of group letter writing and face-to-face dialogue and learning support, focusing on one major local organization or branch. The aim is to inform and raise the understanding of the people at the top of hierarchies, eventually seeking to influence the president or prime minister of a nation. An individual, but preferably a small local group attempts to influence the personnel in a significant and relevant local organization. Retired people may be offer substantial effort here. Getting to the top can achieved by letter writing to obtain appointments with relatively high level staff, offering learning support on climate change, and trying then to obtain contact with the CEO or other top manager. Alternatively you can work up the hierarchy entirely through personal contact. This strategy must be ‘hierarchical’ for precisely the reason that almost all of us are separated from the powerful by hierarchies. It is very difficult to get the top people to read your letter or allow time for a discussion without some special effort.  

This approach might be compared with lobbying, but this is not the corporate lobbying in which a lobbyist represents a narrow constituency using ‘donations’ as a lubrication. Rather it is one where the ‘constituency’ is the powerful person’s children, grandchildren and further descendents, and perhaps his image of his community, culture and nation. In the hierarchical method for global warming, money or other lubrication will not be involved and the method is just education through group letter writing and face-to-face discussion based on the assumption that nearly every parent at least cares a little about their descendents, community, culture and nation. The expression learning support is preferable to ‘teaching’ as it is broader in meaning and less didactic. Adding dialogue emphasises this further.  It is also based on the assumption that our formal and informal education systems have actually created or could rapidly create the thousands that are necessary for this strategy. Al Gore has made a great contribution here.

The seventeen identified strategies and intermediate ones can proceed in parallel, and support each other, but I believe that group to group writing and face-to-face dialogue and learning support working up hierarchies is underrated. The powerful in government and corporations on the whole may think they understand. But in reality, based on the above parental assumption and weak public national policies, on the whole they have as yet insufficient understanding of the severity of the problem, both of causes and mitigation, aims and methods. The severity is demonstrated by scientific and engineering research published in the last few years.

Remember most of the powerful in corporations, government and unions in most countries have been trained in business, accountancy, economics, law and political ‘science’ and may remember little of their school science. They are very unlikely to have learned specialized subjects such as palaeo-climatology, and are unlikely to properly understand the way in which surface earth system feedbacks can take climate change totally out of human control. China is partially, at least, an exception, where the top two people are a former engineer and geologist. Moreover the powerful in the West at least have been misled by the IPCC that has not been frank about its treatment of slow and fast feedback processes. The IPCC’s graphs on sea level rise have often been taken as predictions rather than scenarios, whereas they are based only on fast earth system feedbacks and do not include for example the feedbacks associated with large land ice melting or the breakdown of tropical forests. 

In the short-term up until effective international agreements are achieved I am proposing that we must at least test a hierarchical strategy of focused letter writing and face-to-face learning support that includes group letter writing to an organization and arranging face-to-face contacts with the influential and powerful in the private sector, government and universities by moving up the hierarchy, offering learning support through dialogue at each level.

If we have petitions under arm this may be helpful, but a good knowledge of the causes of global warming, its consequences, and methods for drastically and rapidly reducing carbon emissions may be better. There may be too little time now to educate the mass of people in the hope that they can bring change through distance contacting, demonstrations or perhaps democracy. To the extent that the people are already sufficiently educated they will be able to use distance contacting, street protest, and perhaps elections if well timed. Web-based organizations such as 350.org and Avaaz.org are organizing mass demonstrations and distance contacting but the degree of scientific explanation associated is limited. More and more at the top have to gain a deeper understanding and we have only a few weeks to do it before Copenhagen.

Once you have acquired sufficient knowledge of the causes and mitigation of global warming you can personally write to and approach anyone more influential or powerful than yourself, and if they do not already fully understand and agree, try to persuade them of the catastrophic consequences of failing to act and acting sincerely. At a meeting, a summary document can be taken to leave behind, but I suggest dialogue may be more effective than a screened presentation, unless they agree that they know very little and wish to learn. Perhaps take a small white board and be prepared to explain in diagrams and graphs any point required. If you get stumped don’t pretend but promise to write a letter explaining the point.  

An easy first step is for a group, perhaps a student class, an environmental division of government, a community group or local NGO, is to write targeted letters (not email in the first step). Select a local company of some importance for carbon emissions or perhaps any local company or section of government that you feel may be conservative or opposed to environmental conservation, and research its middle to senior staff names. Then each person in the group writes a persuasive letter to one or more people in the organization. Make sure the letters are informative, personal and not standard, so the staff have something to discuss among themselves. Such letters should preferably request a meeting, discussion or interview, if your group is sufficiently confident. Follow up with a phone call. Be sure to say that you or one or two friends would like to come. If five or ten write a letter surely one will land a meeting so one or more others that are the best at face-to-face could go along to. From this start you may be able to move up the hierarchy. 

If you don’t land a meeting from a letter, or as an alternative, those you can approach at first could include relatives, neighbours, colleagues and immediate superiors possibly picking your organization according to opportunity. Those approached who have insufficient influence may have the contacts to approach even more influential people. Try to persuade them to introduce you to more influential or powerful people and support you in the discussion.

Try to move up organizational hierarchies by a combination of letters and contacts. The more culturally hierarchical a society is the more important it will be to have as senior person as possible by your side. In some relatively traditional societies it is unusual for a younger person to ‘advise’ an older one or one with a formally higher position. Other cultural differences will need special adjustments in the strategy.

Some of course already have high level contacts and are using them, but if we can encourage a mass of senior science students, all types of scientists and engineers, architects, medical doctors, geographers, environmentally aware social scientists and others who have taken the time to learn the science and ‘socio-economics’ of global warming to try to move up the hierarchy we could achieve a lot in a short time. A little bravery is needed as the most intransigent may be aggressive and ask questions such as “is your boss aware you are here”? But don’t waste time on the most intransigent unless they are critical in the influence web. You will find enough who do not sufficiently understand feedback and the relationship between emissions, concentrations and temperature. Ask to come back to deniers later if they seem uncertain. It could also be worthwhile to seek out children of powerful deniers. You could even start with the children and get them to help you meet the parents.

For those powerful with little empathy for others, in whatever country, the key persuasive point may be that although mainly the poor will die first, eventually their family, descendents and those of their friends, and their culture, could be severely threatened by about 2050 and certainly by 2100. But some of the rich could suffer early, for example those in the USA subject to hurricanes, storm surges and sea level rise, if they do not act now or move fast. The sea level rise and intrusion caused globally by water expansion is occurring relatively quickly on part of the east coast of the USA as the land there is subsiding.

The key point is that at some stage soon the warming will be beyond human control and humankind will face a huge struggle for adaptation and survival. Note that we cannot wait for some clear sight of the tipping stage before we act. By then it will be too late. If we fail and the ultimate tipping stage is passed, within a century or so only a few of the powerful, probably in the major armed forces, will survive in the southern extremities of the Earth, and will kill millions in the process. The southern lands even now are cooler than the north. Our species genetics will be changed for ever. Nations, and nearly all of cultures as we know them will cease to exist. Any nuclear war stemming from climate breakdown will remove even that hope.  

A key point about the hierarchical group focused letter writing and face-to-face learning support strategy, as with distance contact and street protest, is that thousands if not tens of thousands must be involved. If one CEO or politician is approached he can brush you aside, but if say ten senior managers in the same firm are approached face-to-face change could be contagious. If they find that their senior friends in other companies might be changing their mind the effect could be significant. But it is important that we change the minds of sufficient number with the right connections to affect the policy that will be taken to Copenhagen and subsequent global meetings. Ask them if they will contact politicians in the capital? Choose your organization carefully if you have a choice. The CEOs of major corporations and major worker unions, government departments and universities in every country have a significant influence on government policy.  

Before you write to, or approach the influential make sure you understand in sufficient depth. The higher you go the more you must learn beforehand. Preferably you will need to understand the reason for the 350 ppm target, something of climate change in Earth history, the nature of all the main feedbacks, the relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature, the consequences of mean temperature rises greater than 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2, 3 and more degrees, the likely timing and the main behavioural and technological strategies to reduce emissions. If you are a beginner start with your doubtful friends and learn further on the way up.  

If you have insufficient knowledge, start with Al Gore’s film or book. Then some books worth reading include John Houghton’s Global Warming (reading would benefit from at least a high school science background) James Hansens's Storms of my Grandchildren, Hoggen and Littlemore's Climate Cover-up, Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers, George Monbiot’s Heat and most importantly, Mark Lynas’s Six Degrees. The web address for James Hansen et al’s critical paper in 2008, Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?, and others, and Spratt and Sutton (2007) at the end of the home page, but read at least the first half of Houghton or equivalent before you try it.  An introduction to feedback is provided here as it is critical to persuade those less informed of the critical nature of our predicament.  

If you feel face-to-face discussion and explanation with more influential people is too difficult for you personally, even in a group, then you could just write targeted letters using the arguments presented here or elsewhere, and assist more confident colleagues or friends. Alternatively you could organize some innovative form of protest at key sites, or try organizing an event to which influential people can be invited to preside in some way and inadvertently learn something worthwhile. With experience and some more reading you will gain in confidence. 

Copyright  © 2009 Michael Tuckson.  All Rights Reserved 

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Semi-Random Slogans

Invite a denier to lunch

Eat less meat every day

Form a small climate group

Inertia will kill us, twice

Holiday on bicycles

Learn how to plant and nurture trees

Drain your rice fields sometimes 

Auction caps 

Grow and store carbon 

Write to a newspaper in a denier region 

Help the employees, not the fossil fuel owners

Read a book, not a newspaper, on the bus

350 not 450

Study tropical forest protection

Why are most deniers men?

Carbon tax before cap and trade

Look for a home closer to work

Write a new page for this website

Oppose lobbying

Put a new slogan on your bicycle or bag every day 

Study the latest climate science first

No air-conditioning before lunchtime

Drink just a little cow milk

Study Earth's thermal inertia

Learn how to teach

Send parts of this website to a politician

Grow and store carbon in houses 

Organize exchanges with Asian universities 

Grow crops not livestock

Rationing is equitable

Study thermal inertia in buildings

Practice dialogue, not argument

Behaviour before technology

Make a bicycle path plan

Don't use concrete

Drive a much smaller car

Study the denier claims

1.5 not 2.0

Don't use trees for offsets

Work with a bilingual person 

Eat even less meat every day

Support better democracy

Do deniers care for their grandchildren? 

Paint your roof white

Oppose advertising by polluting companies

Consume less, save money

Form an international group 

Help a politician to learn

Making cement emits CO2.

Education must be global 

Grow and store carbon in the soil

Fans, not air-conditioning

Lobbying is bribery

Study growing algae

Improve the school curricula

You can't read driving a car

Find dated photos of glaciers

Study which companies bribe political parties 

How do you entice a denier to want to learn?

Share your job with an oil driller

Plant trees to absorb carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere

Have you tried Tahini dip?

What do deniers understand?

Dress less formally in the heat

Design a more tempting commuter bus

Get to know a denier's children

Pay tax to fund retraining

Less clothing, not fans

Eat kangaroo meat 

E-commute

Improve the university curricula

One is enough

Interview a climate scientist on video

Insulate your home

Open a wind turbine factory in a coal town

Study Earth feedback processes

300 not 350

Wheat is safer than rice

Take men's fashions up, and women's down

Use a condom in emergencies

Share some job-time

Protest forest destruction

Wear a cotton coat

Study tree plantations

Eat just a little cheese

Get to know a denier's grandchildren

Why do the rich want to grow?

Put on an extra jumper when its cold outside

Offer a new job to a coal miner

Adopt two

Join an NGO today

Political bribes, not donations

None is enough

Holiday close to home

Invest in a diverse plantation

Wear less in the heat

Talk to migrants about emailing home

Make compost

Promote eco-tourism for locals

Read more of this website

Ask a politician have they read James Hansen

Eat less cream

Jumpers are cheaper than gas

Arrange a climate debate

Build a thick-walled house

Study how to turn moderate deniers

Study fast growing trees

Hand out appropriate leaflets at railway stations

Study your local energy organization

Learn about the delights of veganism

Study Chinese

Practice walking

Shirts are enough in hot weather

Support rapid research on how to turn deniers

Try an IUD

Asians make blankets from cotton and kapok

Get to know your neighbours

Recycle jumpers and coats

Holiday by mass land transport

Drink red wine, not milk

Support rapid research on capturing CO2 from the air.

Hand out leaflets at bus stops

Men's legs are beautiful too

Talk to local government about recycling biological waste

Keep a stock of morning after pills

 

Adopt another one

When will the USA go metric?

Write and publish leaflets

Holiday on a sailing ship

Start a course on climate change and solutions

Exercise periodically when its cold

Farmers now support the Green party

Give a talk at the local school

Chocolate's great with soya cream

Climate crisis not climate change

Share a car with your neighbours

Study tipping points and irreversibility

Email government ministers

Form a climate group with your neighbours or friends

Read Climate Cover-Up

Study palaeo-climatology

Soon meat becomes less tempting

Improve your foreign language skills

Adopt a baby girl 

Write an article for your local newspaper

Read Storms of My Grandchildren (after reading some climate science such as on this website)

Take plastic packaging off at the shop

Climate emergency not climate crisis

Ask you government to make a good video on the climate emergency

Move your company to where your workers live

Invite your favourite denier to a vegan lunch

Ask the supermarket to turn off half the lights

Study carbon taxes in more than one nation

Join yours with other climate groups

Shop at dimly lit shops

Email people you know abroad

Ask a climatologist to explain the various! meanings of CO2e

Plant and nurture trees in your garden till its full

Learn about biochar

Study the bus routes in your town or city

Support James Hansen for the Nobel Prize for physics, peace or whatever.

Protest new oil exploration

Install a solar thermal hot water heater

Shop for food where the fridges have lids or doors

Plant 10 trees a month in neighbours' gardens and in parks

Ask your adult children what they think

Write a better letter to the newspapers

Organize a demonstration outside coal company offices.

Where are the Nobel prizes for Earth and social sciences?

Form a climate group at work

Give a talk at a school in a coal town

No children is best

Buy a glass of wine for a denier

Start an NGO

Support honest and intelligent politicians

Study short-term GHGs

Join a good political party

Give a talk at a school at an oil town

Study hire-purchase for solar panels

Stake out a coal energy factory

Don't export coal or oil

Work in a vulnerable area

Invest in geothermal

Live with a farmer family in the holidays and help them plant trees

Build a sailing ship

Give talks at the local town.

Hand out leaflets at another station

Video a debate

Move to a swinging seat in time for close elections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 
 

 Michael Tuckson

The website author and publisher, December 2009.

 

Easy Summary

 

We must try to understand up-to-date climate science coming out over the last few years that warns of possible disaster. Ice shelves and sheets are melting much faster than before. Global temperatures are rising, with oscillations due to ocean oscillations. Natural causes are minor compared with pollution. This understanding must be spread by advanced adult education, especially among the powerful. As many readers as possible must spread understanding.

 

Denier leaders are funded by the fossil fuel, tobacco and similar corporations and/or are ideologues. Their arguments are always against, not considering pro and con, as with real science. They rarely call for better understanding, just attempt to confuse. None are climate scientists. Their motivation is salary and weak government, not salary and discovery. Either they do not care about their descendants or they do not understand the probable future.

 

We must put more emphasis on the short-term greenhouse influences such as methane. Carbon dixide must be captured from the atmosphere. Also we must lead with behaviour change before appropriate technology spreads. Birth control is important in some regions. Job-time sharing and retraining can reduce any unemployment resulting from mitigation measures. Mitigation must be coordinated globally by government and citizens in modern sectors. City pairing could be useful.