Taking action on the climate


I regularly find myself being yelled at by academics for promoting a climate roadmap leading to where we want to end up.

Academics and I often have different action paradigms, theories of action. I find that most professors I speak with have gotten upset to some degree when I discuss where we want to go with regards to the climate, and how we could do that. This includes many of the most senior IPCC scientists. I have huge respect for them, and don’t mind that they blow a fuse when confronted with the disparity of what they are predicting against what could happen which we want to happen.

The academic / scientific paradigm, which is clearly a correct one, is to predict the future and tell others about it.

My brain-science paradigm is to focus brains’ attentions on where we WANT to go, where we could get to if we perform well, and keep the focus there.

When I learned to drive in snow in Boston, the first thing they told me was, “When you get into a skid, DON’T look at the tree you want to avoid, or you’ll hit it. DO look down the road to where you want to go. “ It’s brain science: The unconscious part of the brain, which controls actions, takes us where we’re looking, no matter what commentary the conscious part of the brain is having about what we’re looking at / thinking about.

Have you seen those pictures of a car wrapped around a tree where the tree is the only tree in 1000 feet? Those pictures made sense to me after that snow-driving lesson. The driver was looking at the tree he was trying to avoid. Maybe his spouse was yelling, “DON’T YOU SEE THAT TREE??? DON’T HIT IT!”.  And his spouse was correct in saying that, and saying it passionately.

Being correct has its costs sometimes. Our academic gloom sayers are similarly correct in talking about an unlivable world, and saying it passionately.

May I get more arrogant for a moment?

CCL isn’t just getting a carbon tax through Congress, we’re also working with great respect, and huge effectiveness, to have the Paris climate summit be an agreement for a steadily increasing price on carbon. Although it was barely reported, there was almost total agreement out of Lima for that outcome. We didn’t confront, didn’t scare, just presented a pathway. And the experts all agreed that’s the path they want. www.pathwaytoparis.org .

The important thing that a steadily increasing carbon price accomplishes is that investors’ attention then gets focused 20 years down the road where they can see clearly that there’s no future investing in fossil fuel infrastructure, and that profits will be in renewable energy. And by starting at a low level, investors aren’t scared beyond clear thinking in the short term. No other policy does that.

So I honor the academics’ fears, and I suggest you honor them too. That said, as a human with a human brain, if you want effective action, then keep your attention on the point in the road where you want to end up. And learn to be at peace with your spouse yelling at you to pay attention to the tree.


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