Tag Archives: Breaking the Climate Deadlock

Breaking the deadlock in our fight against the Climate Crisis

The film “Don’t Look Up” (USA 2021), just as already the movie ”The Age of Stupid” (Britain 2009) and the global protests against the Climate Crisis are desperate calls to action to protect our world.

The critical questions are: What action exactly is required and by whom?

Summary of Proposals: The Climate Crisis appears the most complex and gigantic problem humanity has ever faced, a problem of the greatest urgency and, as it appears, of existential relevance for humanity. Presently our endeavours to stop the Climate Crisis appear not sufficient to protect our world, our nations and civilisation. As the global climate protests show they are in a deadlock.

The most basic step forward in moving our effort forward appears to be the organisation of a global conference by global civil society organisations on the very question of how to break the deadlock in our fight against the Climate Crisis.

More concretely, in the light of the enormous complexity and urgency of the problem, if we, humanity want to stand a chance to stop the Climate Crisis at all, we require governments, and more generally,  problem-solving mechanisms in our societies of the greatest capacity and performance. As we experience regularly, presently we do not have them. Our governments fail in many respects. We must investigate how to optimise the capacity and performance of our government and, more generally, how to establish effective problem-solving systems in society.

The instant responsibility in this respect falls to our politicians in charge. As the world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking states, “ the world’s leaders need to acknowledge that they have failed and are failing the many”. Our politicians in charge must now without delay set up commissions to look into ways and means on how to make climate policies effective and how to generally optimise the capacity and performance of the strategy and policy making systems in their governments. Parliamentarians in their control function over government are responsible for ensuring that governments take the necessary measures for optimising their capacity and performance.

But ultimately, democracy is government by the people. It is our own, personal responsibility to ensure the effectiveness of the systems and processes with which we govern our societies and tackle public problems. It is us who must make sure that the problem-solving processes in our societies and our governments operate optimally. As a concrete measure to shore up comprehensive support across the world for the fight against the Climate Crisis the international climate organisations should set up an effective system informing global society concisely about the Climate Crisis and the measures necessary for stopping it.

Is humanity too stupid to save itself? This is what the film “Don’t look up” (USA 2021) seems to suggest.

In the movie a comet is racing towards the world and for all kinds of reasons society and its government fail to take the necessary measures to stop it hitting earth and extinguishing all existence. Humanity – as an entity, an organism – simply does not seem smart enough to avert the catastrophe. The movie comes along as a high-class satire, studded with film stars and brilliant acting, as it appears to me, yet it addresses a real concern of existential relevance to humanity. Director Adam McKay made the movie as a metaphor for our desperately futile handling of the Climate Crisis. During the time of its production the COVID pandemic arose, and the movie suddenly alludes to the general patterns with which our society handles crises.

Reviews in the international press scold the movie for ridiculing the inaction and inability of society. Yet, such critique misunderstands its purpose. Ultimately the film, like already the 2009 movie “The Age of Stupid” by Franny Armstrong and the ongoing protests by Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion, is a desperate call for action to stop the destruction of the planet, as we know it, through the Climate Crisis. It is a call to prevent the collapse of our nations and of civilisation which, as we are increasingly warned by experts, is likely to result, if we let global warming advance significantly.

Those who see “Don’t Look Up” will wonder in how far the full-scale destruction of the planet shown in the movie is a realistic projection as concerns the Climate Crisis. To mention a few key data on our present situation: After decades of research and negotiation the international community of nations now widely agrees that 1.5° Celsius above preindustrial times is the maximum temperature increase humanity should allow, due to the devastating impacts of even higher levels.[1] Presently (by the beginning of 2022) the increase is already 1.2° C. An assessment of the latest commitments of nations around the world and their policies after the 2021 Glasgow Climate Conference concluded, however, that current commitments of reduction in CO2 emissions up to 2030 will probably generate an increase to 2.4° C by the end of the century, nearly one degree higher than the 1.5°C Limit considered just acceptable. Current policies in place, however, will even generate an increase by 2.7°C. Further commitments beyond 2030 will possibly reduce this value to 2.1°C by the year 2100, still more than the limit of 1.5°C. [2] Modelling global climate developments is extremely difficult though, the predictions are highly insecure, values can end up higher than predicted, some carry a fifty-fifty percent chance of realisation only, the ongoing rise in global temperature might also surpass trigger points beyond which further increases spiral into a self-propelling heating process. Temperature increases will make parts of the world inhabitable, large areas of the earth will become arid, food production in these areas will become impossible, other urban areas will be flooded due to rising sea levels. These developments will lead to huge migration streams, to conflicts, and to the predictions of the destruction of civilisation we are hearing. Ultimately, it seems, we, humanity, are gambling with the future of our world and ignoring the existential risks and the harm we are causing. The safe thing for humanity to do would be to stop emitting CO2 now. Yet, as Climate Policy Analysts write: ”Even with all new Glasgow pledges for 2030, we will emit roughly twice as much in 2030 as required for 1.5°”, and: “No single country that we analyse has sufficient short-term policies in place to put itself on track to its net zero target.”[3]

But while in the light of such threatening developments movies like “Don’t Look Up”, “The Age of Stupid”, as well as the international climate protests call us to action, they confront us with two decisive questions: What exactly is required and who must act?

The unprecedented dimensions and complexity of the problem

To answer these questions, we need to take a closer look at our problem situation. Why are our endeavours for stopping global warming clearly insufficient? Why are they stuck?

One reason appears to be the unprecedented nature of the problem we are dealing with.

Climate Change appears to be a problem of such gigantic dimensions, complexity, and urgency as humanity has never experienced it before. Already in 2016, the late, world-famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, by many considered the second most intelligent person in humanity after Einstein, spoke of our present situation as the “most dangerous time for the planet”, in the light of not only the Climate Crisis, but also the other grave challenges humanity is facing, from the decimation of other species to poverty and global inequality, hunger and lacking food production, overpopulation, epidemic disease and the acidification of the oceans. [4]

As regards its dimensions the Climate Crisis appears to be the first major problem of existential relevance which concerns entire humanity simultaneously. The threatening destruction of the planet “as we know it” (Al Gore) and the probably ensuing collapse of civilisation, as experts now warns us, will leave no nation unscathed. Some nations may hope they fare better than others. To which extent this is true we may need to investigate further. But generally, such thoughts  appear to be misguided. Today everything on the planet is more or less connected. If we destroy the planet as we know it and if all nations and civilisation break down, all people on earth will suffer. (The movie “Don’t look up” identifies the idea of a rich elite escaping destruction as stupid.)

While we may not have a complete picture yet about how humanity can stop the Crisis exactly, it  appears to be clear that measures with far-reaching implications will be necessary:

  1. We, i.e., the currently eight billion people on earth, must stop emitting CO2 (and maybe even clean already emitted CO2 back out of the air).
  2. To stop emitting CO2 we must change the way we produce things, from energy to steel, concrete, and any other material, to food.  We must also change the way we live, the way we build, heat, cool, and insulate our homes. We must change the way we commute and transport things in our nations and across the globe.
  3. To achieve these changes we must make huge investments in research, technology, and infrastructure to make the necessary adaptations possible.

In the eyes of observers, the Climate Crisis poses a problem of such overwhelming dimensions to global population that overcoming it requires the mobilisation of all available resources on earth. The Breakthrough – National Centre for Climate Restoration Melbourne, Australia writes in 2019: “To reduce such risks and to sustain human civilisation, it is essential to build a zeroemissions industrial system very quickly. This requires the global mobilisation of resources on an emergency basis, akin to a wartime level of response.”[5] Likewise, economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz formulates also already in 2019: “The climate crisis is our third world war…almost surely there will have to be a redeployment of resources to fight this war just as with the second world war…” [6]

Hawking emphasises the urgency of international co-operation: “Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it. To do that, we need to break down, not build up, barriers within and between nations”. He also underlines the need for sharing and moderation: “…with resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, we are going to have to learn to share far more than at present”, and that we had “to learn above all a measure of humility”. [7]

If all resources on the world are required for stopping the Climate Crisis, the need for sharing becomes obvious. Those who possess the necessary resources must pitch them in and pay for the necessary adjustments in order to save the planet, as we know it, and to protect civilisation. This is valid both for individual persons as well as nations. To stop the Climate Crisis especially those of us who are better off may also have to be more modest in their demands and reduce their consumption.

The major problem to be overcome probably is that those demands for sharing and modesty stand against ingrained human behaviour. On an individual level they contradict the free market-based idea that we can keep everything which we have gained for our personal benefits. As regards nations, the need for sharing stands against the natural competition between nations for resources, for economic and ensuing military and power advantages in order to protect or enhance the freedom and the well-being of their citizens. To overcome these obstacles we, humanity as a whole, need to shift the focus of our philosophies from individual and national advantages in wealth and power to considering humanity as an organism of which we are a part and which we jointly need to protect. For nations to give up economic and power advantages and share their wealth would require the creation of a new balanced global political architecture which protects the interests of nations in a more equal world.

The need for an effective system to solve the problem.  

A next perspective onto reality concerns the instruments we have for coping with a global crisis of the enormous scope and complexity of the Climate Crisis.

It appears obvious that we, the people around the world, only then can handle a problem of such dimensions and urgency effectively, if we possess national and international problem-solving systems and processes of the highest capacity and performance.  In the light of the planet and civilisation being at stake, settling for less-than-optimal problem-solving mechanisms in our nations and the world would seem utterly irresponsible.

What exactly do these problem-solving processes need to do?

Problem-solving methodologies tell us the following key steps are required in the process of solving a problem such as also the Climate Crisis. They appear imminently clear:

  1. Information and Communication: The generation of a joint understanding of the nature of the problem and the entire problem situation among the people concerned. As a first condition, people will only then be ready to agree on the necessary steps, if they have a similar understanding on what the problem at hand is. Since the Climate Crisis concerns eight billion people, we somehow need to have a system in place which makes sure that eight billion people – especially those whose behaviour has an impact on the problem, those who emit most of the CO2 – understand what the problem is.
  2. The setting of joint goals.
  3. The identification and analysis of parameters influencing the achievement of the goals and affecting the potential solution of the problem.
  4. Based on that analysis: The design of potential strategies or strategy packages to stop the problem.
  5. The implementation of the strategies.
  6. The assessment of their success and the identification of potentially necessary improvements in the strategy, taking us back in a loop to step 1.

The failing of our governments

As the protests by Friday for Future, Extinction Rebellion, and movies like “Don’t look up” or already “The Age of Stupid” by Franny Armstrong emphasise, we are so far failing in taking the necessary steps to stop the heating of the planet and to protect our planet and civilisation. Evidently, we do not have suitable systems and processes in place which are capable (or willing) to take us through the necessary steps described above and to solve the problem of the Climate Crisis.

Stephen Hawking is crystal clear about the performance of our governments so far. He suggested already in 2016 that if we want to have a chance of stopping the Climate Crisis, “ the world’s leaders need to acknowledge that they have failed and are failing the many.”[8] As Hawking confirms, if the Climate Crisis indeed destroys the planet as we know it and civilisation with it, then our leaders so far carry a major part of the responsibility.

Polls show that our governments are failing already in the first step required to generate the necessary action against the Climate Crisis, in creating a joint understanding of the problem situation in our societies and across the people of the world. Too many people still either do not have a clue what is going on, or they doubt that the Climate Crisis is a real threat and man-made. The quality of the information provided by our governments on the Climate Crisis clearly is insufficient and faulty. Because of these deficits a first demand of the climate organisation “Extinction Rebellion” is for governments to “tell the truth”.[9] Despite this demand, they don’t. One interesting aspect as regards the lack of information on the Climate Crisis appears to be that the majority of the people around the world has not seen the movies “The Age of Stupid” or “Don’t Look Up”, even if they illustrate the severity of our situation in an enlightening way. Clearly, we do not want to create a panic with providing information on the seriousness of the situation the world is in, but we need to enhance the readiness of everyone to take action against the Climate Crisis and to share their resources.

Governments are also not informing people on what is necessary to stop the Climate Crisis, they do not inform the people of the need to share due to the existential threats to humanity. They also fail with the perhaps greatest challenge, the implementation of an international system of burden sharing between nations together with a new system for maintaining a balance of power, peace, and stability in the world.

Our political leaders might suggest that such thoughts are unrealistic, that the problems simply are too difficult to solve and that the competition between nations for economic and power advantages presents an insurmountable obstacle to implementing a suitable system for burden sharing. They might also contend that they cannot put too high demands for sharing and restraints on consumption on their citizens, because this would endanger the stability of our nations. Any instability in nations arising over objections against burden sharing must indeed be counterproductive to the fight against the Climate Crisis itself.

All these arguments present without any doubt obstacles of the greatest difficulty which need to be overcome if we want to stop the Climate Crisis. Many people and politicians may in fact have concluded already in secret that overcoming the competition between people and nations and arriving at a suitable system for sharing and co-operation is impossible. They may have given in to the idea that the Climate Crisis leads to absolute mayhem, Armageddon, the survival of the fittest.

A consistent pattern in human history, however, is the fact that regions which used to battle for competitive advantages have later formed political unions and nations when it made sense to pool resources and power for protecting society. Now it is the Climate Crisis which calls for such a combination of resources and energy among humanity as a whole.

Shortcomings in strategy and policy making in our governments

For some people solving a task, such as moving a big rock, is impossible. Others invent a better tool, a better system, a better process to arrive at a solution, and it works. If governments suggest that the problems we are facing are to complex and that they cannot be overcome, then this may have to do with their lack of capacity and performance.

From our daily observation we know that our governments do not function as well as they ought to. They fail in many policy areas, the term of “government failure” is in frequent use. Paul C. Light analyses forty-one major government failures in the United States in the time frame from 2001 to 2014 including the handling of the Hurricane Katrina in 2004, of the financial crisis in 2008, and the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010.[10]  In a comprehensive review Anthony King and Ivor Crewe analyse the many “blunders” committed by British governments over several decades from Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s to the Blair/Brown and David Cameron governments ending in the year 2016. [11]

Such blunders do not happen by chance. A 2012 report by UK parliamentarians on the strategy making capacity in government is scathing about the underlaying, unprofessional way in which the government executes its strategy making function.

The report states: “We have little confidence that Government policies are informed by a clear, coherent strategic approach, itself informed by a coherent assessment of the public’s aspirations and their perceptions of the national interest. The Cabinet and its committees are made accountable for decisions, but there remains a critical unfulfilled role at the centre of Government in coordinating and reconciling priorities, to ensure that long-term and short-term goals are coherent across departments…” [12]

“Little confidence” in polite political parlance in truth means the greatest doubts in the systems and processes in government. A government which executes its strategy and policy making in such a dismal fashion simply cannot succeed in fighting the Climate Crisis successfully. The problem is that the parliamentary report is from 2012. By 2022, ten years later, the deficits in strategy making in government have not been fixed! Governments in other nations operate in comparable ways, they will suffer from similar performance deficits.

If we want to stand a chance to deal with such a gigantic problem as the Climate Crisis our leaders must not only “fix”, but they rather must optimise the performance of the strategy and policy making systems in government. Politicians often operate in a bubble. They are hooked in their own thinking about politics and government and do not know how to mend deficits in strategy making processes and in the policy-making capacity of government. To optimise the capacity and performance of government they must incorporate all know-how available in society on this matter. If they miss out on any relevant knowledge, they must fail. Organisations in several nations have already been suing politicians for their failure to take adequate action against the Climate Crisis.

Optimally performing strategy and policy making systems are a precondition for our ability to handle the Climate Crisis. Politicians in charge who do not optimise the performance of their policy making systems are guilty if the consequences of the Climate Crisis destroy our planet, as we know it, and civilisation.

The failure of governments to preserve peace

One specific failure by governments around the world which impedes the fight against the Climate Crisis and which we should mention is their failure to preserve peace. Governments all over the world threaten other nations and lead wars, for all kinds of irrational and egotistical reasons. Such wars distract from the prime problem at hand for humanity, the threating destruction of the planet as we know it.

As we said above, stopping the Climate Crisis requires co-operation of exceptional quality between people and nations and the joint mobilisation of all global resources. Yet, such conflicts and wars tie down and destroy millions, if not billions of resources.

Our global leaders need to know: Who wages war instead of fostering peace and co-operation, allows the Climate Crisis to proceed and destroys humanity. We cannot afford conflicts between nations anymore, all people in the world must focus on fighting the Climate Crisis as a joint threat to humanity. Certainly, in a world threatened by the Climate Crisis, we also cannot afford people diverting millions or billions of resources through corruption.

Civil Society – Our own failures

But not only our governments fail in the fight against the Climate Crisis. We ourselves including all global organisations active in the fight against the Climate Crisis are failing so far.

The issue we, humanity around the world and especially those presently involved in the fight against the Climate Crisis, very obviously fail in, is putting a viable and effective problem-solving process in place for stopping the Climate Crisis.

We realise that the steering and government processes around the world are not working properly, and that they do not deliver the results we require, we protest against our governments and demand that they take effective action. Yet, since our governments are either not capable or not willing – or a combination of both – to conduct an effective problem-solving process for the Climate Crisis, our protests lead to nothing, they do not generate the effective problem-solving processes we require.

As we know, democratic governments do not want to lose elections. They are restrained by the limited readiness of people to carry additional financial burdens in connection with most any policy issue, including so far also the Climate Crisis. As sort of a fix, Extinction Rebellion asks for “Citizens’ Assemblies” to be called in,  conventions of perhaps one or two hundred more or less randomly selected citizens who get together over a limited period of time, to get adequate problem solutions moving[13]. Such assemblies might indeed help, anything moving a solution for the Climate Crisis forward must be considered beneficial.

Above we have described, however, the entire problem-solving process necessary for solving the Climate Crisis, from creating a joint perception on the problem, ideally around the world, to the setting of joint goals, the design and implementation of strategies and their evaluation. For each of these steps we need systems and processes of the highest degree of capacity, research systems, information and communication systems, systems for involving all citizens, strategy making systems, co-ordination and implementation systems.  Citizens Assemblies may be suitable as a part of the entire problem-solving process, they may be able to generate some basic concepts for the problem solution, they will, however, not be able to manage and co-ordinate it, they will also not have the detailed modelling and strategy making capacity at hand to design the thousands of strategic building blocks required to stop the Climate Crisis.

As the Climate Crisis touches on our entire lives, coping with it will require systems capable to co-ordinate all policy making in a nation and the world. A crucial problem is that governments may not feel bound at all by the suggestions arrived at by Citizens’ Assemblies, the measures proposed by them may not go forward.

The most fundamental problem with Citizens’ Assemblies so far appears to be that the demand for  their creation does not get enough support by the citizens and that governments refuse to call them in. To the contrary, rather than engaging and communicating with people concerned about the Climate Crisis and its probable existential consequences for humanity, even in an established democracy like the UK, the government in 2021 introduced a new “Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill” whose adoption appears to have made protests demanding effective climate policies largely impossible. In 2022 the House of Lords fortunately stopped the bill. Also in Germany a heated debate on the appropriateness and legality of disruptions to public life by climate protesters has begun. Here a government minister offered to enter into a constructive debate with the protesters on how to solve one specific problematic issue, the climate effects of food waste.[14]  If the planet as we know it is at stake, the protesters have a case. Effective communication between governments and society on how to address the issue is required.

The necessary actions

As the film “Don’t Look Up” and the ongoing protests for more effective climate policies reveal, our policies against the Climate Crisis in essence are in a dangerous deadlock. Global governments so far do not manage to put policies into place which ensure with certainty, not with some sort of questionable probability only, the preservation of the planet in a habitable state.

What is necessary to break the deadlock in our endeavours to stop the Climate Crisis?

  1. International Civil Society Organisations: A conference on “Breaking the Climate Deadlock”

As the most basic but necessary step forward in breaking the deadlock in the fight against the Climate Crisis I would suggest for the international organisations engaged in the fight against the Climate Crisis to as soon as only possible organise a joint conference on the very subject of how to break the deadlock in the fight against the Climate Crisis.  Such a conference appears indispensable as a step for identifying the way forward.

One element appears of central relevance for generating an effective way forward in such a conference, the inclusion of people familiar with problem solving methodologies. If we want to be successful in our fight against the Climate Crisis, we need to identify our goals and the crucial parameters for success clearly and make sure they are “in place”.

Our overall goal is to stop the Climate Crisis. If we think through the general parameters necessary to achieve that goal, building zero emission societies, huge investments, burden sharing, the fact that all aspects of our societies will be affected by stopping the Climate Crisis, it becomes obvious that optimising our problem-solving processes is the central precondition to achieving our goal.

  • Optimising government processes: The prime responsibility of our politicians

The urgency of the Climate Crisis does not allow for any delay in ensuring the greatest effectiveness of our problem solving and policy making systems. The first responsibility to create such high performing problem-solving systems falls on those currently in positions of power and responsibility, our politicians in government and our members of parliament. Governments must accept Hawking’s critique that they have failed and must investigate how they can fulfil their obligations towards their societies and humanity.

The politicians in charge in our governments need to see that government failures and blunders consistently harm and weaken society. When the world is at stake, we cannot afford such underperforming government systems at all and the waste of resources and opportunities ineffectiveness causes. It is the obligation of politicians in government to make their policy making systems perform optimally.

As mentioned, governments often operate in bubbles. To ensure their policy making systems work optimally, any endeavours to this respect must involve all know-how distributed in society and the world on the matter.

  • The responsibility of parliamentarians

In their control function over government much of the responsibility in making governments work at the highest degree of capacity and performance falls to the members of our parliaments.

It does not suffice for parliaments to identify deficits in government strategy making, as happened in the UK in 2012, and to note that such deficits have led to “mistakes which are becoming evident in such areas as the Strategic Defence and Security Review (carrier policy), energy (electricity generation and renewables) and climate change…”[15]

Parliamentarians must ascertain that the politicians in government take the necessary steps to ensure the optimal performance of the strategy and policy making systems and processes.

  • Our responsibility: Optimising problem-solving processes in society

In a democracy we, the people, govern. This means that the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the problem-solving processes in our societies work properly and are capable to handle the Climate Crisis falls on us, the people.

If our governments fail in the fight against the Climate Crisis this, lastly, is our own fault.

What the deadlock in the fight against the Climate Crisis highlights, is that demonstrating against governments is not enough. We must rather analyse why exactly they do not provide effective solutions for a problem especially such as the Climate Crisis and take effective action to make sure that the necessary public problem-solving processes in our societies function properly, or in the light of such an existential and urgent problem as the Climate Crisis, even optimally.

Systems Thinking tells us that every project needs a driver taking action to ensure its success. This means, that in order to ensure the optimal performance of our government systems, we, as society, need to join and form an initiative for making sure that our “normal” problem-solving system, our government, works optimally. We need, what one might call a “Citizens’ Initiative for Effective Government” or “Effective Democracy”.  

While we naturally look to our governments for identifying and coordinating the necessary measures to stop the Climate Crisis, it is necessary, however, for us to recognise that the need for “problem-solving processes” does not necessarily have to be tied down to “government processes” only. If our governments do not function effectively, we may have to examine other potential options for establishing effective democratic problem-solving processes regarding the Climate Crisis. We, the people and the organisations concerned about the Climate Crisis, may have to create processes which operate parallel to or in combination with government processes to move the necessary solutions forward.  

  • Creating the necessary global information system: A task for global civil society

As our problem-solving methodology tells us, the starting point for all action must be the creation of a joint understanding of a problem situation though effective information and consultation processes.

If our governments fail in creating a joint understanding of the problem situation regarding the Climate Crisis, then the international civil society organisations involved in the fight against the Climate Crisis can fill this gap. They can create a global information system on the Climate Crisis which enhances the understanding in the public for the threats caused by the Climate Crisis and which generates the support for necessary measures to avert its consequences.

Presently, we appear to have all kinds of websites hosted by governments, international organisations, and climate initiatives around the world with their individual approaches and individual recommendations. While we basically need all people on earth to get involved, especially those who contribute primarily to the global CO2 emissions, the present websites reach only thousands, perhaps a couple of million people. What seems to be missing is a central website and information system informing the global population about the nature, implications, and urgency of the Climate Crisis, and, moreover, about a feasible way forward for stopping the destruction of the planet as we know it through the Climate Crisis. People need to know how what they need to do in order to contribute effectively to solving the Climate Crisis.

  • The obligation of those who have the time and capacity to get involved

Finally, it needs to be highlighted that, if civilisation is at stake, generally each and every one of us needs to engage and should have a chance to do so.

Yet, many people in our world are busy with simply making a living or with making ends meet. As long as this is the case, the obligation to get involved, therefore, falls primarily on those with the necessary resources, capacity, and time available. So far, we all seem to be busy with all kinds of things of greater or lesser importance. But when the planet as we know it and civilisation is at stake, we must change our habits and, if only possible, make the necessary time available to get involved. Why not, when this is “the most dangerous time for our planet”, as Hawking puts it, take one day a week, if we can afford to, to educate ourselves about the problems we are facing and the necessary systems, processes, and parameters for solving these problems?

Do we stand a chance at all to succeed in the fight against the Climate Crisis?

The greatest problem to be overcome in the fight against the Climate Crisis may well be the competition in humanity over limited resources, in the case of the Climate Crisis the limited ability to emit CO2. It may be the competition of nations in economic, military and political power. Many people appear to already be cynical and to have given in to the idea that humanity will fail to overcome these obstacles and consider it doomed. They will suggest that human nature stands in the way of the sharing required for solving the Climate Crisis.

Yet, in the course of history people have always fought over resources and for comparative advantages in their power. Often prompted by external circumstances societies realised that co-operation was better than competition and fights, they formed states and political unions in order to join their forces and capabilities and to protect themselves.

When humanity understands that personal and national egotism in handling the Climate Crisis will lead to existential catastrophe for everyone, then nations and people will hopefully realise that co-operation and sharing is better for everyone.

Ultimately the choice seems to be co-operation or destruction. Co-operation appears the right choice. 


[1] Cf. Somini Sengupta and Jason Horowitz, G20 leaders send a symbolic message on a key climate target, New York Times, 31 October, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/31/world/europe/g20-climate-temperature-rise.html

[2] Data from: Climate Action Tracker, Glasgow’s 2030 Credibility Gap, net zero’s lip service to climate action, Warming Projections Global Update, November 2021, https://climateactiontracker.org/documents/997/CAT_2021-11-09_Briefing_Global-Update_Glasgow2030CredibilityGap.pdf

[3] Climate Tracker, November 2021

[4] Stephen Hawking This is the most dangerous time for our planet, The Guardian, 1 December 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/01/stephen-hawking-dangerous-time-planet-inequality?mod=article_inline

[5] David Spratt & Ian Dunlop, Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach, MAY 2019,  Breakthrough – National Centre for Climate Restoration, https://www.breakthroughonline.org.au/_files/ugd/148cb0_90dc2a2637f348edae45943a88da04d4.pdf

[6] Joseph Stiglitz, The climate crisis is our third world war. It needs a bold response, The Guardian, 4 June 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/04/climate-change-world-war-iii-green-new-deal

[7] Hawking, The Guardian,  2016

[8] Hawking, The Guardian, 2016

[9] Cf. https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-truth/

[10] Paul C. Light,  A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It, Brookings Institute, Centre for Effective Public Management, July 2014

[11] Anthony King and Ivor Crewe, The Blunders of Our Governments, London 2013

[12] From the Summary of: House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, Strategic thinking in Government: without National Strategy, can viable Government strategy emerge?, Twenty Fourth Report of Session 2010–12 Volume,  House of Commons, 24 April 2012

[13] Cf. https://extinctionrebellion.uk/go-beyond-politics/citizens-assembly/

[14] “Aufstand der letzten Generation”, Kritik an Blockaden durch Klimaaktivisten (“Upheaval of the Last Generation”, Critique of Blockages through Climate Activists, Tagesschau News, 15 February 2022, https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/blockade-autobahnen-reaktionen-101.html

[15] House of Commons, Public Administration Select Committee, 2012