Use positive messages and incentives so citizens and private/government organizations can mobilize to accomplish goals in every sector.
We'll undertake transformation of society like mobilization for a World War, using the "bottom up" power of new electronic media, with schools and community organizations not the "top down" approach of mass media. We'll undertake a national conversation that rewards citizens at every level to discuss, commit to solutions & take action.
Our 18 action areas:
1. Schools create new bio-centric ethos for students, parents, teachers & communities, connecting green schools to green local vendors. Associations of Principals, Educators, PTA parents, & curriculum specialists will be asked to cooperate.
2. Religious and civic organizations, service clubs, youth groups, professional societies, municipal & county governments, & business organizations will all be asked to do their part to create a green future.
3. Energy production will be decentralized with modular and flexible distributed generation taking the place of centralized power stations & national grids. Wind farms will be constructed offshore using an Energy Island model.
4. Food production will become more distributed also, move indoors in “food deserts” & onto the balconies in cities & into the yards of suburbs. In small farms newly developed subsurface water retention technology will be introduced. Crop rotation and vegan-ism will be encouraged.
5. Rural areas will adopt regenerative organic farming & stock rearing techniques, eschewing genetically engineered crops, with biodigesters, and composting universally adopted.
6. Kelp farming will be encouraged to help reverse ocean acidification & absorb water pollution.
7. Desalination using renewable energy will be promoted to make up for loss of groundwater
8. Vehicles transition to electric & are charged from ubiquitous and affordable solar, wind and small hydro energy generation at the household & community level, removed from grid dependence, with battery backup for homes and communities
9. Mass transit buses & trucks also transition to electric and/or fuel cells
10. Communities adopt biological diversity, with re-introduction of heirloom crops & permaculture in place of uniform grass lawns
11. Photosynthesis and absorption and sequestering of CO2 are enhanced by planting fast growing crops, trees & industrial hemp to absorb greenhouse gases
12. Geothermal heating and cooling will be encouraged to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
13. Use of chemicals - pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, & pharmaceuticals in meat and fish will be greatly reduced
14. We advocate strongly for a “No Foam Zone” throughout the US
15. Construction Industry will minimize building waste in construction, build zero waste structures and communities & build low carbon cities
16. Carbon Pricing is essential to all of the above
17. Fuel use in international shipping will be significantly reduced
18. US Industrial Collaboration Agency (USICA) will assist in the creation of technology to lessen environmental impacts
Which proposals are included in your plan and how do they fit together?
The unique feature of our proposal is to recognize the push back the climate movement has had from traditional media so we will be using new media with virtual face to face meetings through Youtube, MeetUp, Facebook, Twitter and similar sites to spread the word using connection and conversation, allowing for interaction and tapping into the wisdom of crowds. People will be urged to change not by their government, but by their children, their neighbors and their pastors.
Framing is critical to make the problem personal, urgent and local, to transmit and maintain a positive attitude about solutions, to give people a way to take visible and consistent action, and to reduce polarization. We'll answer the question – “What do we have to do to get people to care enough to take action?” We'll use the power of digital and face-to-face social networks to help frame the issue properly, reward accomplishments and celebrate victories.
Our proposal includes the assumption that the MIT Climate CoLab process will henceforth fulfill the need for a centralized repository of the best actionable ideas, that CoLab staff will continue to help quantify anticipated results of proposals, that the ongoing conversation at CoLab will grow to be the key interface between theory and practice in climate action for the US. To the extent possible all our action proposals will flow through CoLab; and all funding for “proof of concept” of separate projects will be administered by CoLab. In a military analogy Boston will become the “War Department” for mobilization.
Associated proposals have been selected based on the following criteria:
- Do no harm.
- Be carbon emissions neutral or negative.
- Allow restoration to take precedence over new construction. Both restoration & new construction will include sustainable & recycled materials.
- Utilize off-grid renewable energy aiming at a fossil fuel-free future.
- Can be self-supporting or even a source of funds with minimal start-up funding.
(NOTE: The 18 linked proposals are in identical order to the action areas in the summary above.)
1. Schools - A strong self-funding program that is currently being implemented to bring families, schools and teachers aboard as rapidly as possible was the 2014 MIT Climate CoLab Youth Action Winner Climate Change is Elementary: Huge Green Fund-raiser for Schools. One strong component of this program, that is actually a money maker for schools, is the Green Action Checklist, tied to a Green Action Card that gets substantial rebates for schools when families make green purchases. Associated projects include a mapping project to locate green vendors & a Handprint project to incentivize green efforts.
2. Civic Organizations – Self-funded Rapid prototyping sessions will be undertaken under this plan in every county and city in the US modeled on two counties in Colorado, to bring regular citizens & civic leader together to make concrete plans for change. It is proposed that we help shift attitudes and behavior nationwide in the US by undertaking a pledge to mobilize such as this proposal.
We will undertake a nationwide program to challenge religious leaders to either sign on to the Pope's recent encyclical or publish equally powerful dicta of their own such as the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change.
We will challenge secular organizations like Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, Campfire, 4-H, Boys & Girls Clubs, Kiwanis & Rotary to come up with plans for reaching their members with messages & action programs aimed at reducing use of fossil fuels & water.
We will do the same with thought leaders at every level, including recruiting popular cultural icons to aid in this effort, like Liberty Bond drives of World War II when matinee idols asked Americans to plant a Victory Garden or buy Bonds. We will solicit the creation of songs & popular movies and books & plays about climate change challenges, not terrifying enviro-disasters, but thoughtful projects that help move the conversation forward. Political “leaders” will join the cause once they see that the people are moving in a particular direction.
3. Energy production - The energy supply is in need of crucial makeover. "Energy from Oceans Replaces Energy from Fossil Fuels" is the title of the proposal we choose to supply the grid. If the proposal is implemented -- along with continuing other steps for distributed generation -- ALL use of fossil fuels to generate electricity could end by 2040, and emissions of greenhouse gases associated with electricity production could go to zero. The steps to achieve that result could be 100% paid for by redirecting funds that are currently subsidizing development of fossil fuels, and the costs associated with their use such as transporting fuels, clean up from disasters, negative health effects of pollution, loss of fisheries, etc. Given political and economic realities, each state will create their own plan for transition.
4. Food production - Vertical hydroponic farming, is a supported proposal, which will ensure much needed food security in the future. With no need to worry about seasons, stability, water use or waste. Also, utilizing new technologies that can reclaim and up cycle much of the unnecessary waste betwixt production and consumption such as peels from juicing, and odd shaped fruit or veggies that are otherwise fine for eating.
5. Rural areas – Opening the dialogue initiates the spark of action.
6. Ocean farming - Maximizing potential by using shoreline and offshore approaches, also strengthening kelp forests serves a dual purpose.
7. Desalination -Low tech and lower cost in favor of affected locales.
8. Electric Personal Vehicles and Home electrification with battery storage -Convince all in the automotive industry to adopt a no emission model. Orison home energy solution for those that cannot yet go solar, or afford Tesla's Powerwall.
9. Mass Transit – Masdar City is one great example that would work in urban areas. Pressure will be put on the automotive industry to transition to solar and electric power. The proposal selected for the transportation is a Transportation Plan for a low-carbon city, which uses electric mass transit and personal vehicles. This proposal assumes the latest practical “all-of-the-above” technologies will be evaluated by transportation professionals using the latest research, tools and computer models to design and engineer the multi-modal transportation system of a low-carbon compact city.
10. Community action - Getting Power for the People is vital, and the proposal for investing in solar technology and traditional values will be incorporated into our plan.
11. Enhance photosynthetic activity - Bamboo to aide CO2 absorption, bringing back home gardens, and teaching children early on the importance of permaculture
12. Geothermal heating and cooling - Promote DIY systems, engage with the network, and emphasize benefits of clean energy.
13. Controlling chemical and pharmaceutical industries - Much work must be done in the restoration ecology field to return ecosystems to their prior condition and to slow extinction rates. Organizations like Beyond Pesticides will be asked for cooperation. Stopping the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers may take time to purge the system, but we must detox from the errors with industrial agriculture.
14. Minimizing waste that goes in dumps and the ocean – Emphasize that the manufacturing industry make their packaging multi-use, reducing not only the type but also the amount of trash generated. Industrial practices need a severe revision as well.
15. Construction Industry - The industrial proposal selected is in line with achievement of sustainable development goals and best practice waste management, Development Community Integration for Resource Efficiency. As the Construction Resources Initiative Council (2015) states nature has closed systems for waste, so humankind must reevaluate their relationship by using sustainable consumption. The cradle to grave principle also extends into repurposing and upcycling. Construction and related projects are by far the least sustainable, therefore this industry needs to be held accountable for waste.
Building using new materials as in the selected proposal 3D Printing using Hempcrete is prudent because as the material matures, the increase of CO2 absorption is substantial. AFMPPA (2015) has some very compelling evidence: "As hempcrete ‘petrifies’ after a few years in the elements, we are excited about the possibilities presented by constructing structures that will evolve from plant into stone, will actually absorb more CO2 than they release during construction and during the petrification process, and can be made from a completely renewable material using minimal waste methods for construction."
16. Carbon Pricing - We choose to partner with two of the Carbon pricing proposals Sweeten the Carb on Deal and The Little Engine That Could: Revenue Neutral Carbon Fee and Dividend hoping one or both will become politically feasible.
17. Shipping/Transportation – Shipping emissions can be greatly reduced with a levy on emissions
18. Industry - The goal of the CoLab proposal for USICA is to accelerate innovation and widespread use of new technologies that will allow industry members to grow sustainably while positively affecting the environment.
Adaptation - Sea level rise is inevitable. Low-lying nations around the world are taking steps for adaptation - building dikes, walls, dunes, mangrove swamps, barrier islands, pumping stations and measures to keep water out, revising building codes and relocating roads and railways to reduce damage, and discussing relocating entire communities. The US must cooperate with other wealthy nations to assist in assisting poor countries, such as members of the Alliance of Small Island States, to either build defenses or move. Our suggestion is to strengthen the Office of Coastal Management of NOAA, and to convene a series of conferences in coastal areas around the US to get local citizens to take responsibility for their own regions. Steps that coastal US cities and states should undertake in the short term to start the process of adaptation were listed in a conference for Miami area in 2014 and can serve as a model for every community.
Also we have submitted "Stopping Unstoppable Sea Level Rise" to the 2015 CoLab Adaptation contest. This bold and novel proposal is designed to limit sea level rise by strategically blocking currents of warmed seawater in Antarctica from melting coastal glaciers from the bottom up. Abundant energy from the strongest winds on Earth make this massive effort feasible. Rising sea levels of 20 feet or higher in the future, caused by global warming from present levels of GHGs already in the air, make the effort necessary to avoid otherwise inevitable catastrophic damages to coastal areas worldwide.
It is vital for the US to support family planning programs around the world as a way to help other countries to achieve sustainability, and adapt to a rapidly changing Planet. Wealthy countries with fertility below replacement level can be applauded for their foresight and discouraged from the recent push for higher fertility. Instead immigration of working age and young people can make up for the shortfall of workers.
In summary we have been acting as if we had never faced similar challenges in the past. But in addition to our experience from the World Wars, if you look at the family planning movement worldwide as a model, and specifically look at what happened to move countries from high fertility to below replacement level fertility in a generation you can find a model that can be replicated using the lessons learned. That model is based on information, education and communication augmented by free services and small rewards for families and organizations that take the desired action. We can do the same with climate change, if we make a plan and work the plan.
Explanation of the emissions scenario calculated in the Impact tab
Clicking on the Impact tab results in display of a graph indicating a robust fall in CO2 emissions from now until 2100. That fall is the result of implementing the multiple proposals described above. Reflected in the graph is a dramatic fall in emissions that will result from implementation of the Energy Island proposal that is described above and in the 2015 CoLab Proposal Workspace at "Energy from Oceans Replaces Energy from Fossil Fuels."
Emissions of CO2 from generating electricity will go to zero by 2040 if all the proposals are implemented, including the ambitious Energy Island proposal. That proposal could be funded by redirecting subsidies that presently go toward promoting the continued use of fossil fuels as a source of energy. Details about how Energy Islands will be funded and deployed are given at the 2015 CoLab Workspace "Impact on Emissions of CO2 from Deploying Energy Islands."
Here are some important facts that influenced what settings were adopted to create the graph under the Impact tab:
- Commitment to adoption of renewable energies, as has been done in Germany, has been shown to be consistent with moderate rises in GDP.
- Lowered fertility is found when women are allowed access to education, economic opportunities, and contraception.
- Land use and agricultural reform can lead to markedly lower greenhouse gas levels.
- Fossil fuels can be replaced without resort to nuclear sources of energy – sources of energy that are characterized by (a) problems regarding disposal of wastes and (b) concerns of citizens regarding safe use.
What are the plan’s key benefits?
1. Schools become focus for community change. All generations work together for common goals
2. Civic organizations unite around this challenge
3. Energy production becomes locally/regionally owned
4. Food production becomes much more local
5. Farms transition to organic saving soil and water
6. Ocean acidification is slowed or reversed
7. Fresh water is more available
8. Cars no longer burn fossil fuels = cleaner air
9. Overland freight and mass transit become cleaner
10. People regain connection to nature
11. CO2 is pulled from the air by trees
12. Homes/offices get warmed/cooled at low cost
13. Illness drops with less chemicals in air/water
14. Garbage gyres in oceans lessened
15. Construction waste goes down
16. Cost of carbon rises. Money distributed fairly
17. Shipping is less polluting
18. Manufacturing technology becomes eco-friendly
What are the plan’s costs?
1. Proposal is a fund-raiser for schools $0
2. Civic organizations accept public service challenge $0
3. Energy production added costs are $0 Start-up costs are high.
4. It is in everyone’s economic interest to raise their own local and organic food $0
5. Rural area costs are low.
6. Kelp Farming = huge money-maker for aquaculture industry - cost is $0.
7. Desalination start-up cost is high. Alternative is to run out of water
8. Costs to transition to electric cars absorbed by auto industry
9. Mass transit costs for new vehicles and charging stations high
10. Cost for biological diversity in communities is $0.
11. Tree planting costs can be borne by service organizations (scouts? 4H?)
12. Geothermal costs can be borne by homeowners
13. Getting off chemicals is $0
14. No Foam cost is $0
15. Construction transformation cost is $0
16. Carbon pricing can make money to finance all these changes
17. Shipping saves money
18. Industry saves money on innovation
What are the key challenges to enacting this plan?
Realize this is not an academic exercise. We must mobilize as a society as we did for World Wars. This is not costly. It involves logical planning, clear communication, getting commitment to undertake the necessary transition from every level in society from individuals and households to county, state and federal governments, and rewarding positive actions at every level. Much of this will take place using the internet and face-to-face meetings, since the commercial media do not see it in their interest to change.
Most of the 18 proposals in this plan are either profitable, free or low cost and for the few where there are expenses the new technology that is being purchased is less expensive than the old technology, and does not require constant purchase of fuel stock. Changes in government regulations are not required at first, since most of the actions come from the private sector. But as the change sweeps the country regulations will change as opposition to the new paradigm fades.
1. Schools now transitioning - 100% by 2025
2. Civic leaders rapidly evolving
3. Energy transformation occurring state by state. Federal push would be helpful
4. Local food production already developing rapidly
5. Rural transformation to organic/renewable starting slowly
6. Ocean farming started but needs investment capital
7. Desalination needs to be a priority in drought areas
8. Tesla pushing vehicle electrification
9. Mass transit getting started and needs investment
10. Solar sales doubling every few years
11. Tree planting needs push
12. Geothermal needs push
13. Laws needed to ban chemicals. Huge pushback.
14. Recycling needs push
15. Building industry needs regulation for transformation
16. Carbon pricing requires change of government for enactment
17. Levy on emissions for shipping far off
18. Innovation in manufacturing needs help
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Essential to this project are the elements outlined in Mobilizing for Climate Change Action, an existing proposal.
For campus actions we recommend University of British Columbia Climate Action Plan and the work of Ideas for US
We also recommend the EU Climate Action Plan and the White House Climate Action Plan
We also recommend Building Resilience Through Adaptation Planning, a website aimed at Britain, but with international implications.
We strongly recommend that readers of this proposal read This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein who contends that "We can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better." and that "Confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world."
MIT Climate CoLab has opened the seminal public discussion that must lead beyond an academic exercise to decisive individual action in the US. This is how a revolution begins.