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David Haaren

Jun 23, 2011
04:31

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The proposal to Reshape the Whole Economy seems to put the cart in front of the horse, meaning that a massive public awareness campaign is required first. The Wikipedia article "CO2 in the earth's atmosphere" may be a start. The Keeling Curve is shown along with a chart of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. A third piece of important information may be found at the end of the discussion for the article, where I show how our emissions would raise the CO2 by about 2.4 ppm per year, except that the oceans are absorbing about half.

James Greyson

Jul 17, 2011
05:04

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Hi Dave, thanks for supporting this proposal! Carts and horse can be a good way to try to work back towards the sources of problems, especially when we keep in mind that so many cause-effect links are circular rather than linear. Wondering please in this case what you had in mind as the cart and what as the horse? What kind of awareness were you thinking to raise with a campaign? The public (like politicians) are generally unaware even of the possibility of systemic changes such as switching the economy from linear to circular pattern, so awareness is definitely part of the process even if it happens after policy-makers announce something meaningful. James

Roger Eaton

Aug 4, 2011
01:34

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James, I support your proposal because it has the right scope. The international system is stuck and, to use a US football analogy, the solution is an endrun, not a frontal assault. The Intermix Collective Communication Software that I am developing -- see intermix.org -- is a first step towards the collective intelligence software that we need to turn things around. Good for CoLab for giving it a go, but so far, I think we see that collective intelligence is not within our grasp. I'd like to be proved wrong, but it seems there are too many facets and angles, so the conversation, even a colab organized conversation, is chaotic and/or too unwieldy, to come to a conclusion. InterMix instead aims to create the global consciousness that would underpin a global collective intelligence.

Jess Reese

Aug 13, 2011
09:40

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James, I am all over this! I am a Climate Reality Project presenter, informal zoo educator, and grad student. My master Plan is to mobilize the international SCUBA diving community from complacency to compassion for coral reefs. By inspiring others to become impassioned advocates I will help to create a revolutionary movement that actively works to ameliorate anthropogenic global climate change by encouraging divers to reduce their carbon FINPRINT and become vocal advocates of legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. I like this proposal and I agree, focusing on legislation is perhaps not the best way. It will take nothing short of a cultural revolution to save coral reefs. I'm. All. In. Give me the tools, I will make sure 1.2 million SCUBA divers get them too. Peace, Jess Reese Ocean Warrior and Coral Nut

James Greyson

Aug 14, 2011
03:50

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Thanks so much Dave, Roger, Jess (and others) for your support - much appreciated! Roger, really interesting to be working on a software approach to collective intelligence. Great idea to flag it up here. I recommend also the discussion area of this site where more people can find out about your work and hopefully cross-fertilise. https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/discussion#discussion%3DpageType%3ATHREAD%2CthreadId%3A7411 What could the CoLab learn from your experiences do you think? Jess, delighted that you're involved. Lovely perspective to involve divers in a climate revolution to save coral reefs. Admire how you make the connection between that specific focus and the need for a revolution in dealing with climate and all related issues together. That's why I propose using the vast power of a society and economy that is set up to relentlessly phase out all accumulating waste (including GHG emissions). This beats the wishful power of legislation or treaties that focus at the end of the pipe to try to make the existing economy emit less. We need a complete climate-friendly paradigm not just hopes for controls on a climate-destructive one. What do you think? What other info would you like? Please invite all SCUBA divers to the site. They can support any proposals, get involved in discussions and even start new proposals before Sept 30th. Winning proposals get the chance to be considered by top climate negotiators and hopefully get used to begin the 'cultural revolution' we need.

Jess Reese

Aug 14, 2011
10:33

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James, I agree. After reading Daniel Quinn's Ishmael, I realized that it was true. A cultural revolution is what is needed, but it sounds daunting. It sounds much easier to slap a law across a nation, like a Band-Aid. But Band-Aids don't last. They fall off, and if you don't heal the wound, you need another, and another, and yet another. It's not the solution. I feel I am in a movement of passionate people that work tirelessly, but I have gotten the feeling lately, that we need to work smarter, not hardeer, or else we all burn out (like I have seen some good people do). This movement of people is like a body without a head. We need leadership. I have said before that this revolution needs a catalyst. We can't wait for the inevitable climate related disasters to affect us on a daily basis. Surely that will be a catalyst, but it will be too late. Like the civil rights movement, it began with a stand. Where is our movement's Rosa Parks? If it's Al Gore, Jim Hansen or Bill McKibben (all of whom I ADORE) then I am afraid the revolution will not come, because they have not suceeded. I suspect that our movement's Rosa Parks will be ONE MILLION ROSA PARKS. Collective consciousness must reach a tipping point, (I've heard it said the magic number is Pi- 3.14blahblahblah...maybe so...) so that we can redefine our species relationship to the planet. Back to the only definition that makes any sense: Humans belong to the Earth, not the other way around.

James Greyson

Aug 14, 2011
11:18

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Great stuff Jess, especially about collective leadership. Consciousness is tricky to discuss but fun to picture using a systemic view, where consciousness is another variable (like so many) that both causes and is caused by the paradigm we're in. That might explain why working harder (at awareness raising for example) doesn't raise awareness, since the underlying paradigm keeps chugging away, self-reinforcing and generating movements of denial that outpace progressive movements. A way forward, as you suggest, is to shift focus from end-of-pipe band-aids to policies that fix whole systems, like the whole economy. And like humanity's upside-down sense of belonging. You might enjoy a peek at my paper on precisely this topic, http://bit.ly/switch5 ? The world seems to have a wonderful capacity to begin movements on important issues - if a movement was to focus on fixing whole systems we might quickly see what collective intelligence and collective consciousness could do. It takes a whole population to ignore its blindspots but only a few people to reveal them! How would you like to involve your SCUBA community in the CoLab? Would be splendid to see more people doing more here :-)

Dennis Peterson

Aug 17, 2011
10:02

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A pound of dioxins is a lot worse than a pound of scrap wood. How do you account for the many varieties of waste?

Dennis Peterson

Aug 17, 2011
11:13

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If something does in fact end up as waste, who files the insurance claim?

James Greyson

Aug 17, 2011
12:41

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Q8: Indeed! Waste risk involves more factors than just mass. Here's a bit from the main page about it, with links to the published papers with more info: http://www.wiserearth.org/article/a87b462059040001e7b7509d1310b70f/group/systems#mechanism "Factors to calculate waste-risk and precycling insurance premiums are: (a) Recyclability or biodegradability. (b) Producer’s provision for any infrastructure, habitat or collaborations needed to regenerate the product as new resources. (c) Existing ecosystem concentrations of product components above natural levels." This proposes that society's habit of considering each variety of waste individually is a bit dopey. Far better to have an approach that works for all resource flows in the economy, so that externalities can be accounted for and phased out? Q9: Check out the proposal description; there is no insurance claim. "It's different than modern insurance since premiums are distributed preventively rather than as compensation for allowing continuing waste accumulation, resource loss and climatic disruption. ... Premiums would be redistributed from production of waste-risky products to fund society’s activities that cut the risks of resources becoming wastes (including GHG)." I know the use of the word insurance is a bit confusing but interesting that when insurance first started in 1667 the payments went to reducing damage not post-damage compensation. Do you think society will be willing to be flexible in its understanding of a few words if that's the price of effective action?

Dennis Peterson

Aug 17, 2011
01:24

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I like the general idea, just trying to hash out the mechanics of it. It seems to me there's always a possibility for failure...for wastes to enter the environment despite your efforts. Is there a penalty for that? Or do you just decide on an amount of money to spend on preventing each type of waste, and hope it's sufficient? Who makes these decisions, about either penalty amount or premium amount? Is it the government? If so, how do you avoid the process getting corrupted by industry lobbyists?

James Greyson

Aug 17, 2011
03:31

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Hi Dennis, We might consider 4 sorts of 'failure'. In the 1st, wastes will continue to enter the environment even when the global society is entirely sustainable, since nature has a capacity to process wastes into new resources. The wastes will however not accumulate with rising concentrations in nature. 2nd, wastes in an economy in transition will continue to enter the environment and accumulate. Fossil fuels for example will still worsen climate change. However the waste risk is clearly high so the premiums would be comparatively high and transferred into actions that cut dependence on making wastes, including support for nature to recover, renewables and actions for communities to cut energy demands. So there is no penalty, just the premium that acts as a strong (dis)incentive in the market and also as a signal to politicians that the game has changed. 3rd, a product whose price includes the premium based on a certain calculation of risk might then end up as junk rather than remanufactured/composted/whatever. Customers for example might notice a missing recycling system. This kind of failure adds to waste risk and invites higher future premiums, more scrutiny and perhaps as you suggest a penalty? For more on the mechanics please see 4.7 and 4.8 of the 2nd paper, http://www.wiserearth.org/uploads/file/df06010b114e48735d67b3fef5af68f2/GreysonNaplespaper.pdf 4th, we have today's situation where externalities are a free for all, effectively incentivising every product to take advantage of nature as a bottomless pit to plunder and despoil. Precycling insurance is the most comprehensive economic intervention I know of for externalities but we can feel reassured that even if it sometimes will fail, we will at least have decisively moved away the 'wild west' of global self-destruction. I think my papers don't mention corporate lobbyists so good question! Lobbyists today take advantage of the absence of any other vision offering the kind of 'golden goose' future for growth that politicians naively believe they get with linear economics. They also take advantage of market distortions introduced by every reductionist 'cut this particular impact' economic intervention. Both of these explain for example why nuclear power and incineration get a political feather bed in most countries. Lobbyists also take advantage of working below the public gaze, which would be helped by a transparent scheme but also by citizens mobilising around the ludicrously excessive lobbying industry.

Dennis Peterson

Aug 17, 2011
05:58

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Am I understanding this correctly: With regard to fossil fuels, the premiums function as a carbon fee, perhaps with the money applied to renewables. But you're looking at risk of emissions, not actual emissions. That keeps you from having to measure actuals from everyone. But if one coal company is turning their emissions into a product, maybe they don't get the full benefit. Instead it reduces the risk of coal producing waste from 100% to 95%, and everybody's premiums go down a bit.

James Greyson

Aug 17, 2011
05:42

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Yes, roughly. Carbon is not the only stuff in fossil fuels? Perhaps a producer/importer will sequester carbon at the same rate they sell it? The funds raised from one kind of waste may cut dependence on making other kinds? Renewables is just one way to cut waste risk from fossil fuels? We're looking at waste accumulation. So roughly emissions = accumulation for fossil fuels (considering accumulation in oceans as well). For replaced biomass fuels, emissions doesn't = accumulation. Producers would pay premiums individually not collectively. So a coal producer that sells all their product somewhere that the emissions get permanently preserved as new resources (or sequestering) would get the full benefit of minimal premiums. Though they would also take on premiums included in purchase prices of all their equipment! Hope that helps :-)

Dennis Peterson

Aug 17, 2011
10:58

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Yep thanks. I started in a somewhat similar direction with my Carbon Rights proposal last year, and I'm taking it further this year.

James Greyson

Aug 18, 2011
02:38

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Great thanks Dennis. Would be super to see your proposal back again. If you copy it across soon others can lend a hand and there will be expert reviews happening from end August.

David Haaren

Aug 24, 2011
03:39

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You refer to a coal producer selling coal where the emissions get turned into new resources. This confuses me. Do you mean things like enriching the CO2 in algal ponds? Keeping it simple, I would imagine that any seller of coal would pay a high PIP. A buyer of coal would pay as well? But maybe less if they grow algae or sequester their emissions? I do like the concept of Precycling Insurance Premiums (PIPs). The mechanics of how the system might work and what the premiums (or relative premiums for different products) might be deserves a lot of consideration. It is not that I am eager to pay these premiums, I would like to know how to avoid paying even hypothetical PIPs. All types of entities (corporations, local governments, people, etc.) could plan and make purchases more appropriately for the future if PIPs were published (albeit as always changing approximations), along with the methods used to calculate them. I understand that PIPs would be administered by a third party, much like a new type of insurance whose task is to help "insure" mankind's future. A free-market has a very strong tendency toward short-term thinking, a very strong focus on this quarter. To expect government regulations to take on all the responsibilities of thinking long-term may be unreasonable. These PIPs seem like a way to include long-term thinking in a free-market. It is a bold proposal, and I like it. My thanks to all.

James Greyson

Aug 24, 2011
04:33

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Many thanks Dave! Yes Precycling premiums would be administered by a 3rd party, much as public liability insurance for example. Yes it would be a way to bring forward long term thinking into current market decisions (what to invest in? what to make? what to buy? etc). An advantage compared to other approaches to externalities is that the premium is covering a preventive cost which is less than the 'don't prevent and suffer the damage' cost. A stitch in time... The mechanics are in the 3 published papers, probably best read most recent first. It's not complicated, just not the usual way that insurance or externalities are handled. Apologies that it's a bit of a slog at the moment; I'm seeking a commercial sponsor to make a more user-friendly presentation of it all. Producers would be responsible for the premiums so buyers pay only indirectly via the higher purchase prices. This creates the incentive for both producers and buyers. If a coal 'producer' for example can do reliable sequestration (a tough call since we're talking about geological timescales) then they could cut their premiums because less of the product would be ending up as waste. A coal buyer who did sequestration would not be involved in paying premiums but they could be on the receiving end of premiums being spent to cut waste risks throughout the economy. I expect that comprehensive info on calculating and transacting premiums would need to be transparent and open so the scheme could be trusted and so that accountability would be largely self-organising and hard to game. This would include producers publishing precycling plans where they set out publicly what they expect to happen to their product and its components at end of life. Today this is not generally their concern so just having to think about this would be a gentle revolution. Planned obsolescence becoming obsolete!

Travis Franck

Sep 10, 2011
06:52

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I’m sympathetic to the message: I think the system is broken and we have largely been only with the symptoms. In fact, the drivers of environmental impact are consumption and population growth. This proposal only focuses on the first. The hardest part of this proposal is seeing the feasibility of adopting a system of “precycle insurance.” For instance, look at the #3 in “How?” -- subsidies are hard to remove and many industries will fight to the death. There is a definite lack of political will. Starting a momovement will be required and that takes time. Time that, as you point out (Climate Works paper that ClimateInteractive.org helped with) we don’t have. Questions: 1. Why would premiums go to financing products compatible with sustainability? Wouldn’t they be used to fund clean up of waste? Thinking of medical insurance, the healthy premiums are supposed to covers the ill’s medical costs. 2. I’m worried about the rate of change here. How does the proposal get peak emissions before 2020, as stated is needed? 3. How does this system allow/promote demand side efficiency or only supply side? Seems to be more on manufacturing and less on how much my power my TV uses. 4. The MIT modelers have trouble coming up with pathways that are below 350ppm because they don’t seem to be feasible before 2100. There is too much momentum in the climate system (http://climateinteractive.org/momentum). Does your proposal support a carbon capture technology? That is what would be required. Biochar has limitations in the amount and permanency of sequestration. Also, unclear how precycling insurance would promote biochar.

James Greyson

Sep 13, 2011
10:55

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Many thanks Travis, excellent feedback and very helpful! The financing opportunities in "How?" are necessary accelerators for change, not prerequisites. Precycling premiums can be introduced any day that policy-makers get keen on a fast recovery of climate, nature + economy. This would signal the change of economic paradigm to 'circular economy' - as envisaged for China. Subsidies, grants etc would then adapt themselves to the paradigm just as they do now. I wonder to what extent 'lack of political will' is just blame-shifting by a progressive movement that hasn't yet got to grips with systemic change? This proposal is interested in population together with many other drivers for unsustainable impacts. If you wish I'll happily explore with you how circular economics helps with population dynamics. However a more complete answer is that population is both a driver and a symptom of unsustainability, so requires a multi-issue multi-fix approach, as provided by the 'seven policy switches' referenced in the proposal (http://bit.ly/7switches ). 1.7: "The switches do not neatly match up with symptomatic problems; for example there is no particular switch for climate change, energy, population, poverty or health. Each of these can be tackled by making all the policy switches and by the further actions that would then become viable." 1. Precycling premiums don't pay for costs of damage since this would be a tactic for total economic and climate wipeout. So have described (in "What?") a preventive economic tool. Historical note: C17th fire insurance also didn't pay for the costs of damage. Perhaps one of the 'costs' of sustainability will be allowing some language and concepts to move on to match what's now needed? 2. Today's expectations of rate of change are cruelly crippled by our experience of decades of societal response being pretty useless. This creates a 'reality bubble' where expectations for the future get defined by the past rather than by the opportunities of the future, where the economy could be set up to solve rather than cause global problems. Useful to avoid the trap of judging feasibility by past expectations. 3. Circular economy is a whole economy (demand and supply and investment and policy/vision) change. Precycling insurance implements this by internalising in product prices, which changes the signals for all market participants. Individuals get the signal via energy prices, affecting both use and choice of products. Producers get the signal both directly via premiums and indirectly via new customer preferences. Those who don't 'get it' still contribute premiums which create change elsewhere :-) 4. Would love to learn more about the MIT modelling. On the CoLab page about this (https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/resources/-/wiki/Main/EMF%2022%20response%20surfaces/ ) it seems like the modelling hasn't so far been attempted for any scenarios below 450 CO2e because the modelling teams weren't asked to do them. So premature to conclude infeasibility? When a team does start to model below 450 it would be interesting to kick around the not-yet-explicit assumption that bigger emissions cuts means smaller GDP. Yes the proposal is allied with a proposal for biochar, https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/4/planId/14637 Have you seen a review of evidence showing biochar not permanent? Doesn't terra pretta suggest it is? Chuckling at 'limitations' of biochar :-) Biochar opportunities are like a banquet hall that can look meagre only when we haven't opened the door yet! Would be really grateful for your tips and further comments on the biochar proposal if you get a moment to review. Sounds like you have valuable views. Thanks also for link to your super climate momentum simulation. Very engaging visuals. Wondering if the momentum problem is even tougher than presented when loss of climate buffers (ice) and positive feedbacks (methane) are built in? What year is arctic ice set to run out in BAU? Would this show up on the graphs?

Boris Lagutin

Sep 20, 2011
09:43

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Hello, James! I like "Circular Economy" in this proposal. All processes of production should become circular in the future. However, in terms of means, that you offer to do that, I mean Premiums, I suppose that it should be improved. As a economic method to influence on producers it is good but how it can be done if every country follows its own economic interests? In other words, if it was profitable for every country this method would accept all states, I think.

James Greyson

Sep 20, 2011
02:03

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Thanks Boris, yes precycling premiums can enable all resource flows through economies to become circular in future. Best is to do it by international agreement (for example at the Rio+20 event) since this avoids the effort of adding premiums at borders. If done internationally then premiums would need adding only at points of production. Current situation is that no countries follow their own economic interests since all run a self-defeating economic model where the resources needed for future growth are systematically converted into growing liabilities. Any country that adopted a non-self-defeating model would benefit both by increased resources and decreased liabilities. There are also intangible benefits such as providing hope for the future, which is essential to underpin co-operative behaviours.

Boris Lagutin

Sep 21, 2011
02:33

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What do you mean by "the resources needed for future growth are systematically converted into growing liabilities"? Could you clearify this point? Thanks a lot! Boris.

James Greyson

Sep 21, 2011
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Good question. This is such a big error that few people even see it. Here is the explanation from my paper at http://bit.ly/3rdswitch "Four decades ago the economist Kenneth Boulding (1966) wrote about the “reckless, exploitative and violent behaviour” associated with the mythical possibility of endless frontiers available to be claimed and fouled. He poetically called this the ‘cowboy economy’, though today it is commonly called the ‘linear economy’, to envisage the default economic vision of a conveyor belt of resources becoming wastes (Leonard, 2008). All forms of wealth and security including; climate stability, co-operation, trust, biodiversity, ecosystem services, resource availability, soil fertility, air and water purity, health, sharing and democratic accountability are depleted by the systemic error of running a linear economy. Linear economics consumes the basis for future growth so what is now growing fastest is unproductive activity, inactivity and instabilities. The credit crunch marks the withdrawal of faith in growth-as-usual and any reliable revival of growth and prosperity requires a switch of vision."

Joseph Zummach

Sep 22, 2011
04:55

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After reading this through along with another of your presentations on the circular economy I find the ideas very compelling in there simplicity. I do wonder how to put this into action in the face of extreme corruption in governments and obstruction by carbon fuel interests. Is there a way to organize resistance to the status quo economy while building the circular model. See link on non violent resistance: http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations/org/FDTD.pdf It seems that right now facing squarely the abuses of power by the corporate cartels that dominate the global economy and building a global resistance movement to the power structure would be a top priority. I'm thinking about a proposal to wed this resistance to the creation of a circular economy One thing that I have personal experience with is tapping the waste stream for building materials, in a sense this is already a global phenomena in most third world countries. The question is how to make this more of a movement, with homelessness in the US on the rise this could take shape in a powerful way. But we need an even broader scope of action as you point out, much to ponder here.

James Greyson

Sep 23, 2011
05:01

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Hi Joseph, many thanks for kind support! Resistance and activism could become really powerful for creating change. Suggest simply including a conversation about systemic change that gets beneath the symptoms. Circular economy is a great example, that links to so many issues that people and governments know they need to fix - not least the end of growth-as-usual. I see lots of movements about many important issues and many opportunities for change awaiting only some systems thinking. Do you think sometimes resistance can become a mindset, as when the green movement intuitively opposes growth without considering how a sustainability renaissance would shrink impacts/resource flows and revive growth? If it helps I'm running a kind of activist event tomorrow morning for moving planet, http://www.moving-planet.org/events/uk/ringmer/2275 Everyone is welcome to join from around the word by commenting here or on twitter @blindspotting

Ann Link

Sep 25, 2011
07:27

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The thought I have had is that the relation to other harmful activities could be made more explicit. I was thinking about food, and how harmful foods are made, which don't necessarily end up as waste, although they do a lot of harm to health. People have been talking about high fructose syrups which cause obesity. Much of this would be prevented by premiums on carbon-emitting agriculture, but would it all be? And Colin Mason's axioms from 2030 Spike may be useful: 1. Useful change is likely to come about only if it clearly benefits the community in which it is planned. (I.e. the big energy companies?) 2. If proposed solutions do not take the lowest common denominators of human nature into realistically into account, they will not work. (I don't think it means humans are just at that level - there is obviously huge altruism.)

David Haaren

Sep 25, 2011
11:38

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Large paradigm shifts may eclipse our ability to communicate "across" the shift. The meanings of words are altered by paradigm shifts. For us to view the emission of carbon dioxide as a problem that is endangering us is that kind of shift. It is a monumental change. Collectively grasping this idea is the shift we need, "the horse that pulls the cart". Plate tectonics comes to mind. I am thankful for the work of others. Problems of Intellectual Property and Copyright have interesting connections with the idea of owning land or resources (not to mention the means of production). There is also a Tragedy of the Commons when good ideas languish. Our collaboration is important. In the spirit of communicating and sharing ideas I will recommend Peter Tertzakian's book "The End of Energy Obesity". Peter makes the point (among many others) that the improved efficiency of Watt's steam engine is exactly what caused the proliferation of steam engines. The monumental change in our attitudes about energy may have been summed up by Donella Meadows when she pointed out that abundant, affordable energy is exactly what leads to rampant resource extraction. We may need to learn to NOT want abundant, affordable energy. It might be like having too much O2 in our atmosphere, forest fires would rage out-of-control. Or consider a nation's fishing fleet. If ships are too efficient the fish stocks will be depleted. I can not negate the very real benefits of affordable, abundant energy. We can only admit that we may have reached the end of an era. We may be in the middle of the enormous shift required when we accept the truth about accumulating carbon dioxide. Other groups are talking about using insurance premiums so that polluters will pay for their imposed risk or "externalized cost". See http://www.forumforthefuture.org/project/vision-sustainable-economy/overview If you download their plan (or exec sum) and look for Point 7 on their list of 10 points, you will see that this group also sees the potential for insurance to play a role in helping economies evolve toward sustainability. If there is a new guild of scientists and policy makers who understand climate change (or think they do), then I would like to see them (us) "work on the horse". We need to keep re-iterating the facts. We need an informed public taking some responsibility for all those transactions that some system (known as Business-as-Usual) keeps track of and then calls "the economy". Precycling Insurance Premiums (PIPs) by any name provide the information we need to steer ourselves toward safer transactions. Outright regulation also needs an informed public's support. Developing knowledge and ideas for the commons, and hopefully the common good, seems like a monumental paradigm shift in itself, given the possibilities of the internet. I have some questions: 1: On average, we each emit over a ton of CO2 as Carbon per year by burning fossil fuels into our share of atmosphere, which is about a million tons of air. The simple increase in CO2 concentration (neglecting other sources and sinks) is how many ppm? Where does a large part of this go? 2: Accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere acts to increase the other primary greenhouse gas (GHG), H20. Why? 3: How does sunlight differ from the earth's infrared heat as radiation (photons) passing through the atmosphere? 4: Each GHG has defined ranges of frequencies where radiant energy is absorbed (and re-emitted). How does increasing the concentration of a GHG affect its range of frequencies that are "active" in the atmosphere? Trick question. How is it possible for a photon to be both a wave and a particle? (here I will recommend the book "Absolutely Small" by Michael Fayer) I have also enjoyed listening to lectures that I downloaded from Yale on Environmental Politics and Law by John Wargo. There is a book also. On the subject of Intellectual Property he mentions that the tobacco companies sort of incriminated themselves by owning patents with titles like "Improved Nicotine Delivery Device". Would plans and designs for devices that extract or burn fossil fuels also "incriminate" in a post-shift world? Also check out Scientific American from 1959 and Gilbert Plass. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=carbon-dioxide-and-climate

James Greyson

Sep 25, 2011
11:54

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Thanks Ann. The proposal aims for sustainability so we should expect many harmful activities to subside. Zero harm and 100% healthy sounds like a future next stage? Great that you made the link between price signals, new agricultural patterns and healthier foods and lifestyles. If the proposal wasn't already a bit long we could go on to look at how less dependence on long-distance processed foods would improve diets and less fossil fuel dependence would increase exercise etc. Lots of interesting detail to explore... This proposal does benefit the global community in which it is planned. Whether it benefits big energy companies will depend upon their capacity for change. Guess we shouldn't restrict proposals to those that the big energy companies most enjoy? Human nature can be heavy going to discuss but does it help that making market prices compatible with sustainability would also make self-interest compatible with sustainability?

Sporchi Da Morire

Sep 27, 2011
07:29

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James's article is spot-on. We have just released a trailer for our Italian/French/English documentary called "Filthy to the Core" (Sporchi da Morire) which exposes the risks of incinerators, while also highlighting alternatives. The trailer can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pufuqiaa7pg We've travelled all over the world collecting evidence and interviews from world-renowned scientists such as Paul Connett and Stefano Montanari, and are supported by GAIA Europe, Greenpeace Italia, No-Burn, FOE etc to name a few.. Let us know what you think!

James Greyson

Sep 27, 2011
07:52

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Thanks Sophia. The Fix the System proposal would implement 'circular economics' to keep valuable resources as resources at ground level rather than disperse them in incinerators as toxic nano-particles and greenhouse gases. Solving this problem at the whole system level also has the benefit of new opportunities for those who have supported incinerators in the past. "Ah, we can now design out waste rather than just try to make it disappear." "Ah, we can revive economic activity by preserving and regenerating resources rather than just using them once." "Ah, we can make money by managing materials creatively rather than seeking ways to destroy them faster."

Elyse Houghton

Sep 27, 2011
03:42

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In order to re-shape the whole economy, we should perhaps scrutinize the role of public (and private) education systems as they prepare us all for the status quo, globalized, profit-despite-costs, credit card/debt driven, fossil-fuel powered, climate changing consumer economy. We are taught to learn in "subjects," to analyze things in pieces, to consider "issues" rather than ourselves and the consequences of our actions, to learn job skills rather than actual skills, to consider "success" as "more:" more education, more status, more freedom to choose (without due consideration for "what if everybody"). Our form of universal education is the handmaiden of the unsustainable economy. Imagine if "sustainability" were to be the backbone of education. The "sustainability" question is, Can we keep on doing THIS (insert topic to be examined) indefinitely without destroying what we depend on to maintain the integrity of our life-support systems. Oceans, forests, clean water, species biodiversity/ecosystem services, soil, climate stability. Sustainability across the curriculum: in geography, history (imagine Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies!), the sciences, the humanities, the arts. The professions: medicine, engineering, law. In agriculture, forestry, design and manufacturing, construction, business, government, international relations, the trades. Just as you can't achieve literacy and numeracy piecemeal, you can't fix climate change or change education in bits. We need to change to GOAL of education to educating for a sustainable economy. In order for everyone to be on board. Sustainability as a form of universal literacy. Simple. Impossible? Governments in the thrall of business won't do this UNLESS WE DEMAND IT. Students are beginning to demand it. Check out Second Nature, AASHE, Google "sustainability courses, degrees, programs." They're coming because more and more students realize the status quo won't work for their working lives. Climate solutions aren't just cars and sequestration and biochar and renewables. They're lifestyles, whole packages of consumption choices, life-cycle-analysis for ordinary people, moral considerations, understanding planetary carrying capacity, systems limits, resilience, the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Wholes not pieces, whole lifestyles. Understanding that happy people have a capacity for contentment, for ENOUGH. For fulfilment, not endless consumer stuff. That's all I have time to write at the moment. But without Sustainability Education, it looks as though the climate problem is one that's too big to solve in disparate pieces. However good the pieces. Like "making a living" was the goal of being educated, "making life possible" needs to become the other piece of it. Think everyone, all levels, all areas of learning. Basic, essential content. Our kids depend on it.

Peggy Duvette

Sep 28, 2011
01:27

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So many great comments here. I am of full support of what you are proposing James. Peggy (From WiserEarth @wiserEarth)

James Greyson

Sep 28, 2011
06:10

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Hi Elyse, I'm with you on sustainability education and have some experience with a school doing this in an interesting way that focussed on a curiosity-led process of learning rather than the delivery of sustainability content. This was fun since a lot of sustainability content was included, by choice of the learners (including staff) who were curious about it. It also allowed understanding to be joined up conceptually and with people's life experience. I agree governments don't generally see even the possibility of another way to do education. It would probably help if civil society would advocate process ideas rather than remain stuck in debates about curriculum content. And if the benefits to government and the economy were emphasised as selling points. Current education is set up for 'crowd-control' and economic output but ironically undermines even these limited aims. Would be glad of your thoughts on 'switch 2' given in the references of the proposal. Have you seen wiserearth.org, which is led and inspired by Peggy (above)? Lots of resources and discussions on sustainability education and other topics. Thanks Peggy!!

George Mokray

Sep 28, 2011
10:12

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Internalize Economy in Earth Ecosystemby vishal Open Source Information Age Economyby tedschulman Intellectual Property Exchange,2009 ©.by boris-lagutin Systems of Collective Intelligence by dsweeney Platform for mutual development to reduce resource consumption by haller Ongoing Global Brainstorm by gmoke Fix the system - get a global 'circular economy'by blindspotter Environmental Balance Index: ecosystem internalized money. So collective aspiration to procure, prosper and evolve economyby taras.bebeshko All of these proposals advocate open source/crowdsource mechanisms to speed response to climate change, at least as I read them. It seems we each have different parts of the puzzle and should consider collaborating whatever the outcome of the contest.

James Greyson

Sep 29, 2011
02:57

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Hi George, great to see these kinds of collaborations being proposed. I wonder how they would fit together?

James Greyson

Sep 29, 2011
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Hi Dave, sorry I missed your comment #28. Yes. Donella Meadows was right about cheap abundant energy not being the blessing it seems. This is what has powered global dependence on linear (one-way material flow) economics. On your questions I recommend your own answers ;-) http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/archives/1205 I shared my work on precycling premiums with Forum for the Future a couple of times since 2006. Good to see the language coming through though it's harder to pin premiums on activities (as they suggest) than products (as I suggest).

Samuel Otenyo

Sep 30, 2011
11:24

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I support the proposal and its concept. Samuel

Dennis Peterson

Oct 10, 2011
10:45

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On the other hand, it takes energy to recycle things. Cheaper energy = cheaper recycling. At some point, you run into the second law of thermodynamics. Because of entropy, there will always be waste, and turning disordered waste into ordered product will always take energy. So I'm not convinced that cheaper energy implies more extraction. Maybe we do so much extraction because, with expensive energy, extraction is cheaper than recycling. With cheaper energy, the reverse could be true.

2011 Judges

Oct 11, 2011
06:42

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Overall assessment: Interesting and bold approach. May be somewhat too rooted in perspectives common in industrial countries, would be good to take into account the developing world’s viewpoint. Specific comments and suggestions for improvement: - The analysis here is right on. Current policy is addressing symptoms rather than underlying causes. The notion of a precycing premium based upon an insurance model is truly innovative. The question of how this gets into the system needs more work, but it looks feasible. I would recommend stripping away some of the items such as biochar, which are not clearly aligned with the precycling premium concept to keep this proposal very focused. - Promotion of a circular economy is a rather vague concept but grandiose goal. Difficult to estimate the effective climate impact of such a strategy. Neglects growth in less developed regions and their economic imbalances.

James Greyson

Oct 15, 2011
07:50

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Hi Dennis, thanks for mentioning thermodynamics. Happily we don't need to break any laws of nature to implement circular economics. The 2nd law applies in closed systems and the biosphere is open to energy that adds entropy outside the biosphere (in the sun and Earth's core for example). This is how nature was able to create net natural resources. Nature takes care to be efficient with using energy and also to find ways for materials to avoid accumulating was dispersed wastes. We can take care similarly. Yes recycling requires energy. Wider view is that not recycling in general means more energy loss (consider life-cycle analysis) and more resource loss (consider ecological rucksacks). Used resources are generally highly ordered not 'disordered waste'. Used solid resources are typically very close to being usable again (by reuse, repair etc) and also very close to the places where they will be needed in future. The alternative of making new products from scratch involves high energy investments to gather dispersed natural resources from around the world (ores, oil, biomass etc) and running them through waste-making energy-intensive globalised manufacturing and logistics. It usually helps to consider the energy and resource flows first and then the economics. Cheapness then can be seen as a way of encouraging whatever is the current economic model. In linear economics energy has been kept cheap so allowing more resources to become wastes faster. Cheap energy wasn't used to enable less resources to be used more efficiently and meet more people's needs. Ironically the failure to use prices to cut energy and resource dependence has led to volatile and fast rising energy and resource prices.

James Greyson

Oct 15, 2011
10:13

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Dear Judges - many thanks for the kind comment. Yes the process of implementation ('how this gets into the system') needs more work but all new ideas have to start somewhere. I welcome help with this work. Have removed the reference to biochar from the beginning but kept it in the text as circular economics offers prevention whilst biochar offers sequestration. I wouldn't agree that circular economics is either vague or grandiose. There is a tradition of proposing solutions that can appear more tangible because they follow familiar habits of 'how to solve the problem'. So narrow solutions with easy to estimate benefits get advanced and broad solutions with harder to predict benefits risk being spuriously dismissed. Global scale solutions that are predictable and quantifiable (such as binding emissions limits) can also turn out to be unachievable. This proposal trades predictability for power, offering policy 'machinery' for cutting emissions that would harness the complexity of global markets and their role in shaping society's world-views. If someone can model this on a computer I'll be very impressed! Growth in less developed regions was perhaps not neglected since exactly the same switch of growth strategy is needed in all regions. The text makes clear how China is leading more established industrialised countries in this policy (even if no country has yet implemented it at scale). Linear economics has not been a triumph for most developing countries which have been exploited both for resources and as waste dumps, leading to high levels of centralisation, corruption and inequalities. Circular economics offers a fresh vision of development based on regeneration rather than depletion and dumping. Have added a new paragraph about this in the 'how' section. Happy to discuss further if there are any outstanding concerns or issues not already covered in the text. Sincere regards, James

Vladimir Tretyakov

Oct 16, 2011
03:15

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James, there is such an idea – to give globally systemic introduction for your project proposal. Why this needs? The cause is that a consecutive systemic approach, at when global problems like economic or environmental ones enter into consideration, a priori consists in taking into account the whole system of global problems facing Humanity, and to explain why in the project proposal «Fix the System – Get a Global ‘Circular Economy’» any your self-limitation was done means possibly to remove some future pretensions when the fate of Proposal will be decide, to be taken or not into practical realization. Thus James, it is the question here about to replenish your systemic argumentation already presented with new arguments, and I am waiting your okay to start. I need near 10 days for this.

James Greyson

Oct 16, 2011
03:30

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Hi Vlad, thanks so much for this - you're offering a set of ideas about solving global problems as a whole? I've tried to make reference to the need for this kind of approach and will happily scour your text for arguments that could be included here or elsewhere. Is this on the links you've already sent me? I'll have more time later in the week for reading if that's ok.

Kieran Battles

Oct 17, 2011
06:38

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Lots of good ideas here that would provide a useful shift in prevailing political thought processes i.e. we do things this way because we've always done things this way. More than anything else right now, global politics lacks good ideas, whether it's solve economic or ecological problems. The difficulty of the theory is putting it into practice and that where this proposal has holes. Premiums would be fought by lobbyists armed with budgets many times the size of civil society groups. If such a re-wiring of the system is to gain consensus and momentum then it needs to show how it will continue to make money for the money men and provide growth for the politicians. Communicate that in a concise and compelling way and there's a G8 governments will adopt some of it. Good luck.

James Greyson

Oct 17, 2011
07:32

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Thanks Kieran! Have updated the paragraph on political feasibility (copied below) since this is so important. See what you think now? Political feasibility. Conventional policy says to break problems down into smaller pieces. This can work with technical complexity but it has proven to be absurdly ineffectual with complex global problems such as the climate. Reshaping the whole economy is paradoxically more politically feasible than imposing climate limits on an otherwise still-unsustainable linear economy. • Economic growth is a political imperative so negotiators can only accept limits to the extent that growth is not harmed. (Hence 20 years of haggling and rising emissions). • Circular economics offers a future for growth which is unavailable with either climate-constrained or unconstrained linear economics. • Lobbyists argue 'there is no alternative growth path besides growth-as-usual'. This proposal ends that by giving politicians another growth path that solves more problems than lobbysists can claim to solve. • The proposal is pro-markets, pro-business and pro-resources, which reveals lobbyists as merely pro-themselves. • The administrative capacity (and collective intelligence) or politics cannot cope with multiple fast moving complex symptomatic issues. Systemic change gives politics a chance of coping. • Single issue politics struggles to do anything without creating more problems (eg crop biofuels, incinerators, conventional nuclear, foreign occupations as 'solutions'). Circular economics would bring systems thinking politics. • The voice of civil society (both climate campaigns and popular uprisings) has been muffled by vague calls to 'do something'. This proposal offers the chance to call for something that matches the scale of the problems.

Linda Beamish

Oct 20, 2011
04:56

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Hi James!:D Great Work!!:D Reference new wall graphic/flow chart, one point for now - 'lead by example' - should not be top down, (we've waited far too long for this to happen) - this should be bottom up. The first people who need the opportunity of living sustainably, are all those who cannot afford to live in the first place. Examples of perfectly feasibile Ecological, Economical & sustainable solutions are already seen across the world - but few decision makers pay heed to these viable solutions. Certainly, when it comes to gaining planning consent on any Build Code 6 application, the road of passage is still thwart with hurdles - not least at local committee level, as so few people making decisions at planning committee level, have knowledge on the latest predictions & scientific evidence. Invariably, decisions at this level are influenced by whether a planning application for a straw or earth house with renewable technologies, might devalue someone else's property. I wonder if the wall could become a fence - where on the one side - everyone who wants to, can be allowed to get on and live sustainably, (crucially, without any waste), and the other side would reside those who continue to ignore the evidence. Creating one perfectly viable, ethical and balanced economy -separate from that which people are so desparate to hold onto. If we sidelined 'the dinosaurs' - it would make the engine of a circular economy run an awful lot faster & smoother. (They could join us all later - it's not as if the best guidelines & rules weren't already written inGreat Agenda 21, Earth Charter, Brudtland etc.) Best Regards, Linda.

James Greyson

Oct 20, 2011
06:47

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Hi Linda, Thanks! 'lead by example' was not clear enough. Have replaced with 'endless case studies and pilot projects'. Circular economy has been around for almost 50 years as a proposal but has previously lacked the means to implement. The wall in the flow chart represents dead-end options. Society today bangs its head against this wall, trying the same approach in the hope of getting different results. Circular economy is a whole system change so not really about top down vs bottom up. Would work as a whole society dialogue guided ironically by a market that would no longer work in destruct-mode. Decision-makers are just responding to the linear-economy paradigm that we're in now. A new paradigm would bring new decisions. 'Dinosaurs' (powerful incumbents) are a product of linear economics. They are likely to resist any change, even those that benefit a collective self-interest that includes them. However if everyone else (the 99%) can focus a bit on systemic changes such as circular economy then we might see the dinosaurs evolve and even add their power usefully. Hard to imagine now eh?

Vladimir Tretyakov

Oct 26, 2011
01:53

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I should confess, after near acquaintance with this Proposal my worldview [1] has been essentially corrected. I had until a prejudice concerning climate change initiatives [2]. My reasoning was: once civilization of Homo Sapiens Sapiens created in several ten millennia by human Reason, therefore the root cause of the hard, unsolved and threatening global problems face the humanity is and may only be this Reason, and just it is the place where the leverage point of systems change to provide a civilization secure existence should be applied. In other words I considered that global problems facing the humanity may only be solved all together and all at once, and no one of them separately. So, I came to a depressing conclusion [3] that we are forceless to cope with global problems, climate one among them, until the world education will have been rebuilt itself to educate people being able to overcome the evolution backwardness of their mentality creating the problems and aggravating them. For this some decades need at least, what possibly aren’t given people… James Grayson used another logic of arguing: since “emissions, climate disruption and the impacts of climate disruption are all symptoms of underlying systemic errors“, therefore to correct the errors, some constructive approaches have to be found. And he discovered the hard bunch “climate change and economic reshaping” and proved that first might be influenced by the second, what gave him a ground to infer: “There is no solution just for climate, but we can fix the whole system”. Question is about the world economic system that having realized the proposed could work so that all used resources regenerated by nature or industry be turned into new resources. In result, the proposal permits to establish such the achievements: 1: James Greyson’s proposal grounded on his peer reviewed before published papers, the main being Seven Policy Switches for Global Security, is convincingly proving its own economical feasibility owing to lucky founded mechanism of the insurance-like premiums paid by large producers accounting for the risk of the resource ending up as waste; 2: This feasibility was demonstrated by describing all the circular-economic mechanism in operation and confirmed by information about direction of China economy, one of the very effectively working (9% annual growth!), to be circularly developing; 3: Arguments are given that global precycling economy having been got usual practice of its functioning can provide a reverse of climatic and environmental factors to better values. All this means that the question set by the 2011 Climate CoLab contest -How should the 21st century economy evolve, bearing in mind the risks of climate change?- is answered by James Greyson with significant exceeding. However other positive consequences of the project proposal rather not foreseen by the very author, appear to be not less essential. Really, 4: In systemically theoretical plane, it is proved that though all global problems are found in mutual interactions, for all that there is principal possibility to realize a very significant project giving global economy new reserve possibilities to get out of the crisis and to rise further tempo of its development without worsening and even with bettering both environmental and climate factors. 5: We have grounds to suppose that the path of secure, sustainable, unthreatening civilization development goes through an educational system aiming to liberate human minds of their evolution-conditioned backwardness, as only widely, ethically and systemically thinking people may create really and efficiently acting global brain being only able to reach the aim. While realized James Greyson’s project to relieve both climate change and worsening environmental problems would assist to solve this main problem of the very humanity existence giving more time of comparatively still, without global catastrophes development for our civilization till now “headless” to gain that organ of global-problem-solving and global governance. References [1] Creating a civilization security system in the 3rd Millennium: http://uladzimir.bravehost.com/civ_secure.html. [2] Climate change problem should be taken wider: http://uladzimir.bravehost.com/my_cl_change.html. [3] All humanity must have been fooled: http://uladzimir.bravehost.com/betise.html. Expert opinion given by Dr. Vladimir N. Tretyakov, FM IAIT, inteltech.iap.by, tvinteltech.narod.ru; uladzimir.bravehost.com; www.wiserearth.org/group/Sch_pan_th

Linda Beamish

Oct 26, 2011
08:40

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Hi James! The dinosaurs that cannot change, cannot evolve - as we are at the brink of our own evolutionary change - the dawn of our own awakening, and of man's (& finally, woman's) right (& Rites) of conscience. Never before, have we had the opportunities which the internet has provided us with - as for the first time in (hu)man's history on Earth, we can all now stand as one collective - one connected, GLOBAL brain -with a shared & ethical conscience. (& who knows where this connection may actually now end through the power of communication systems which allow for TOTAL inclusion.) One of the earlier comments to your submission, included a note regarding a global awareness program which would need to be impelemented before a circular economy could be initiated. From my own research, it appears that this need not take a huge length of time. As you know, it had been my aim to organise Skyped Live Eco-Conferences at Eco-Ark Festivals - showing local people, decision makers & communities, how they could live sustainably, the facts & figures relating to Climate Change (& the proven need to live sustainably). Showing people how they can live without any utility bills - and earn money selling their own, renewably generated electricity back into the mains grid. (& showing how they could build their own Eco-Homes from as little as £3k for a permanent residence, and as little as £25 for a temporary home). With live music (& ticket sales for 'ARKS in the pARKS' Eco-Festival/s), the whole event could be networked from (& to) each interested community via Skype - so that everyone could raise the seed funds it needed to kick-start their own voyage into sustainability. I'm already networked with Richard Dix of Rural Broadland - who broadcast Eddie Izzard's 'Laughs in the Parks' (+ Husky Coleman & Tony Gosling who are both connected to the BBC.) With little time or money, these events could be broadcast across all medium. Live for Life...!

James Greyson

Oct 26, 2011
03:13

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Thanks Vlad and Linda, great comments with a common theme of re-educating ourselves. The big obstacle seems to be that people seek out the solutions that fit the way they think already, not the way a future sustainable society will think. However if proposals such as this can be somehow advanced then the public debate around it could be a super introduction to thinking beyond narrow tram-line solutions. If the proposal is somehow implemented then the public dialogue about how to spend premiums would be similarly valuable. A big opportunity for Eco-Ark Festivals? Helpful also to start thinking about how education and the media mould our thinking and what to change to give us thinking fit for purpose. Vlad has done much work on this and I agree with Linda's assessment that the change need not take long. http://bit.ly/2ndswitch

John Wood

Oct 27, 2011
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EXCELLENT WORK - thank you. You propose a new paradigm. This is easier for China than for 'democratic' nations because they are not exclusively top-down. Paradigms are unthinkable using the existing terms of reference so new possibilities need re-languaging. For example, it is vital to shift the mindset from the old idea of the (inescapable) 'Law of Diminishing Returns' (e.g. Ricardo/Marx) to a Law of Increasing Returns’ (Young, 1928; Romer, 1986; Arthur, 1996). In the democratic developed countries, paradigm change needs an orchestration/hybridization/amelioration of current top-down and bottom-up discourses - each with its own level of abstraction, syntax, metaphors and relational logic. In this case 1) the effectiveness of cradle-to-cradle etc. is that it derives from a top-down capitalist mindset, and can therefore be attractive to those with the greatest fiscal and economic power, currently. We can persuade them by noting that a circular economy is far more lucrative because circles can 'grow' new tangients that make links and networks. Business is transacted at every point on the circumference of each of these circles. 2) In persuading the local stakeholders, you can show that micro-circles are far less leakey than large ones (e.g. global currencies). This means that local money is cheaper and less prone to inflation.

Roger Eaton

Oct 31, 2011
11:26

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Blindspotter, your rewrite is a great upgrade of what was already an excellent proposal. Now we have an real chance of taking both the popular and the judges' prizes. Next up is the modest problem of implementing this vision of circular economics. A friend of mine likes to say "we leave the details as an exercise for the reader!" but something tells me we will have to do this one ourselves. High on my list: a proposal for Kickstarter.com to mash up three Ruby on Rails projects, Diasporafoundation.org, BetterMeans.org and InterMix.org. Diaspora and BetterMeans are free open source and InterMix will be the same by the end of the year. Diaspora provides peer-to-peer social media. The importance of peer-to-peer is that it will allow all the civil society organizations of the sort represented on WiserEarth.org to bring in their entire email lists without breaking their promise to keep the emails confidential. This they can do by creating their own gated Diaspora community, where their members are free to step out the gate into the wider Diaspora world. BetterMeans allows bottom up teams to set goals and work together in a flexible yet responsible way. InterMix will provide the social glue to make a global transition possible. We are dealing not just with an inherited linear economic system, but also with an inherited international system founded on hyper-selfish national identities. Try as it may, this system just cannot seem to overcome its limitations. The people of the world, and especially the women and the younger crowd, know better. Ask people one by one if humanity needs to cooperate to handle global problems and most of us agree. Nuclear weapons, of course they are evil and stupid! Peace is a no-brainer! Food, clean water and an education for all! InterMix "Voices of Humanity" Software allows groups to have collective voices. The mechanism is simple enough. Members of a group in a forum can vote on each other's messages. The highly rated messages are automatically tweeted, facebooked and blogged. These highly rated messages form the voice of the group. We are still a couple months away, but have shown enough progress to be worth a look: intermix.org. Organizations, metropolitan areas, nations, religions, ages and genders, each will be able to say what is on its collective mind. Capping this system will be the four voices of humanity: Women's, Men's, Youth and Humanity as One. People everywhere appreciate love and wit, so messages elected at the global level will consistently be intelligent and generous. These globally elected messages will also form the stuff of humanity's collective consciousness. All who are plugged in at the global level will be assumed to have read the highly rated messages, so a reference to one of these messages will be immediately understood by the listener without having to explain the context. In such a system of collective voices, individual participants will be able to give their allegiance to humanity without being traitors to their nations. Indeed it will be the hardliners who will be marginalized. Either they participate in a system that implicitly places humanity as arbiter between the nations, or they will have no say at all in the discussion. There is a way to fund this system in its early days and at the same time patch up the major problem with the whole idea of collective voices. While electing a message from the grass roots to represent humanity would seem all to the good, the fact is that participation in the process is not that easy to obtain. Things global seem so remote to people, and they don't see a payoff. To make the process take off, we need an incentive. Paying the participants would not be appropriate, but allowing them to funnel money to the climate change / circular economy organization of their choice, that should work. Say five dollars if they write a message that lands in the top 5% and a dime for each vote they cast, something on that order. Not for themselves, but for the related organization of their choice. Then we go to the grant makers and to the organizational memberships of participating organizations and we ask for donations which will a) help get the whole world on one page and b) promote their particular organization. With the correct algorithm, we can guarantee that a minimum percent of donations end up going to the organization of the donor's choice. The minimum percent would be specifiable by the donor up to, say, 66% and donors would receive a detailed breakdown of where their money went. With this kind of set up, the climate change / circular economy organizations will want to ask their members both to donate and to participate, so the process becomes self-reinforcing. This kind of dual-purpose fundraising will bring in new money and bolster active participation in the organizations. If I can convince you, I would like to link your Fix the System proposal to my InterMix / Diaspora / BetterMeans mash-up plan as part of the Kickstarter.com proposal. InterMix will be ready by the end of the year to begin automatically tweeting highly rated items from group forums. If you would like to try it, we could bring in people from Wiser Earth and from the CoLab to discuss the KickStarter idea as I develop it, with a possible March deadline for submitting to KickStarter. Anyways, whether or no on that, I'll do what I can to bring in people to vote for Fix the System in this second round. All the Best, -- Roger Eaton rogerweaton@gmail.com

James Greyson

Oct 31, 2011
02:54

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Hi John, super kind, thanks and delighted to see you on the team. Excellent points, have included the diminishing/increasing returns point in the text. Yes China could find it easier to implement with fewer people to consult. Curiously I'm not sure if their more advanced statements on circular economy will help them do it faster - we'll see. The bottom-up and top-down dynamic is interesting, more so now with #occupy. Quite right that circular economy can appeal from both directions. Roger, thanks also! I like your intermix ideas and this should definitely be put 'inter the mix' of ways to distribute funds from precycling premiums! Let's talk more when the dust settles with voting.

Fj Tkj

Nov 1, 2011
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This sounds suspiciously like the old perpetual motion machine. What a wonderful world it would be if using up resources created more resources, but that simply isn't the case. People do in fact use waste products as resources, as the economics of that makes sense. If making biodegradable and reusable products were more productive, than people would jump at the opportunity. But the simple fact is, there either isn't enough benefit from these things, or there isn't enough demand. Its all well and good to have a lofty goal of sustainability and earth-friendliness, but you also need a realistic way to achieve this. Expecting a whole planet to change to this model is simply unrealistic - change must be made organically by reinforcing individual actions. Trying to take a holistic approach is not going to get very far.

James Greyson

Nov 1, 2011
06:58

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I'm grateful for this comment as a reminder of our increasingly cynical culture. The first 2 sentences don't relate to this proposal. The 3rd one is important since it's the faulty economics that drives accumulating waste and emissions. This is what the proposal would correct. I wasn't sure from what you wrote whether you're in favour of sustainability. Or if you prefer gradual individual-scale change without shared goals? Interesting point about planet-scale change. Civilisation was able to change to the current model but you're not sure it can change to any other? In one sense you're quite right; belief that change is impossible is self-fulfilling.

Jeff Rambharack

Nov 4, 2011
01:30

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This is a great proposal and I think you have a lot of the right ideas. I look at your proposal from the ecological economics perspective first. There is a dichotomy in the thinking of ecological economists but the implications of the ideas on both sides are similar. Georgescu-Roegen believed that there was a 4th law of thermodynamics - the entropy law for materials - and that implied that the quality of materials always degrades irreversibly. The further implication of this law is that the economy would inevitably run down. Herman Daly's thinking echoes Georgescu-Roegen's ideas and that's the basis of his steady-state economy model. On the other side, Robert Ayres wrote (rightly) that there is no entropy law for materials. Using the waste stocks and enough exergy (usable energy), materials could, theoretically, be recycled indefinitely. However, there are many difficulties in practice and Ayres wrote extensively about these as well. The important distinction between Ayres and Daly, however, is that growth isn't limited in theory but it is limited in practice. Even on a theoretical level, though, it requires closing the loop. Your proposal is consistent with the ideas of Ayres and my own beliefs as well. I believe that a circular economy can facilitate further development (improvement in quality of life), if not growth (increase in economic throughput). One caveat is that it is difficult to truly close any or all resource loops and to keep them closed because systems are dynamic, not static. I think can be addressed with your proposal but it should always be kept in mind, so that we don't delude ourselves into thinking that problems need to be solved once, rather than continually. As far as the more conventional economic aspects, I think you have the right basic ideas but I might make some suggestions that could improve the implementation (these should be researched, of course, and modelling could help to evaluate each approach). Things I think you have captured perfectly: - Externalities should be reflected in the cost of products and services. - Paying the cost of preventing them (abatement) is more economically efficient than paying unpredictable future costs of impacts (undesirable because of inefficiency and discounting). - Pricing the premiums at the cost of the externality and making them the responsibility of the producer (Pigouvian principle) is the most economically efficient as well. These things are important because we want to fix the problems without giving up other aspects of social welfare. - The focus on materials instead of energy fits with ecological economics principles - there is way more exogenous solar energy (174,000 PW) than we use (15 TW). The goal is to harness that exogenous energy source using renewable resources to close the material resource loops. A few things to consider: - I'm not sure if allocating the funds to 'insurers' is the best approach. If the producers themselves have to pay for their impacts, they should probably be the ones that find and administer the solutions for two reasons: (1) If firms are finding the solutions themselves, it provides incentive to innovate or find the most competitive solutions (or eliminate the premium cost altogether); if insurers are doing it, firms may not receive the same innovation signal and the insurers actually have no incentive to innovate (they are not bearing the cost of the externality themselves). (2) The transaction and administrative costs could be quite high with the insurers in the middle. - Be careful suggesting specific technologies as the solutions. While biochar might be the best known solution now and funding may help accelerate the learning curve, picking winners can be dangerous and costly. Again, if the producers are bearing the costs (and the costs are comprehensive and set appropriately) and finding their own solutions, they will find the best ones and they will do it better than governments or other third parties. - You mention how many aspects of circular economy can be GDP-positive. I do agree but I would say go even further and include recommendations for national accounts that are more compatible with this model (eg. Genuine Savings). These are just some quick suggestions but I think your proposal is a great start in the right direction. I'd be glad to discuss ideas in more detail if you're looking for ideas in the future.

James Greyson

Nov 8, 2011
06:08

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Thanks for great comment and support Jeff. Yes, quite right that there is no rule saysing that on Earth the quality of materials always degrades irreversibly - this is clearly demonstrated by nature consistently doing the opposite by creating material value. Quite right also that the economy need not inevitably run down - unless of course it continues to run linear economics (where 'running down' is a design feature). I've met and discussed my work with Robert Ayres. He is referenced in ref 2 of the proposal and his point that every resource loop cannot be fully permanently closed is valid (which is why I avoid saying 'zero waste'). Fun aspects: 1. Better than zero waste is possible within certain systems, eg carbon negative biochar. 2. Healthy economic activity requires action to close resource loops, it doesn't require fully closed loops. 3. Growth of this economic activity is not obviously limited in theory or in practice. Continual problem-solving is good for growth. Good to ask about allocating incentives and funds. The premium creates the incentive for innovation and investment by producers. If they choose to innovate and invest then they pay smaller or no premiums. If not then the funds go to support innovation and investment in a 'circular society'. If the premium funds went back to the producer this would reduce the incentive - they would be paying themselves. So the externalities of linear resource flows (climate instability etc) would be prevented in both ways, by producers and by the whole society (using funds from premiums). There would be transaction costs but not necessarily high costs. People never cite the costs of arranging 3rd party car insurance as a reason to allow drivers freedom to cause mayhem. It's necessary to have this flow of funds beyond what producers invest since much of the effort involved in shifting to a sustainable circular economy goes beyond product-based actions. Consider for example all that is done by transition initiatives. Quite right about picking winners. I mentioned biochar because it's a nice example of an activity that could be funded to achieve multiple societal goals including carbon sequestration. Thousands of other activities could be similarly supported and other actions (mixed waste incineration for example) would in future be obviously incompatible. Yes, alternative national accounts can reveal the need for a sustainable economic model - yet ironically this is one of the reasons why governments do not replace GDP with alternative national accounts, since the numbers look better with GDP. It should be seen as a strength of this approach that it makes sense with any chosen national accounts even old fashioned GDP. Would be delighted to hear more ideas in the future :-)

James Greyson

Nov 9, 2011
02:27

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This proposal was sadly axed from this year's contest on Friday after a mysterious 'feasibility' check by judges. The message I received was unclear. It was also not clear why judges felt that a popular choice winner would be seen as being endorsed by judges, so that the public could be allowed to choose only from proposals that pass both feasibility and endorsement tests. Given the evident need for new thinking and policies that begin to match the scale of the the climate crisis, it would seem vital that novel, popular and ambitious proposals are encouraged and not excluded. Are judges sure they have not dismissed exactly the kind of policy the world needed to have a chance? If judges were concerned about being perceived as being supporters of a potential popular choice winner they only needed to clarify this within a comment on the proposal. This would have allowed the collective intelligence of the community in creating new solutions to really benefit from the experience and expertise of the distinguished judges. I respectfully invite judges to make a comment here and mark it as an expert review so that the judging process can be seen to be transparent and the large group of people with an interest in this proposal can try to make sense of what happened.

Roger Eaton

Nov 9, 2011
06:40

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Hmmm... Can't get a global solution until a global solution has been achieved. Royal gap of gaps. I've saved off the "Fixing the System" solution as a document and will explore the links in more depth. For what it is worth, I suggest reconstituting your team at bettermeans.com and intermix.org. Bettermeans provides flexible bottom up project management and intermix provides a congenial spot for creating consensus. Also, once it is fully working early next year, intermix auto-tweet and auto-facebook-post of highly rated items will help build the base via the social media. From the base, the active volunteers can be pulled into BetterMeans to actually start working on whatever projects we have going so the rubber hits the road, as the saying is. We already did a trial run to elect a message to Sec. Genl. Ban Ki-moon for UN Day at United Nations Association, San Francisco. We had thirty entries from nine countries and elected the following message: Clean Food and Water Dear Mr. Secretary General, I truly believe that the equilibrium of human existence and earth’s resources can occur in my lifetime. Through extensive travel, my accumulated knowledge of the human spirit is inspiring and I know that every society shares the same basic goals for health and wellbeing of their families. I would very much like to see more UN emphasis on ensuring basic human rights to clean food and water. Without these basic needs, the primary education of the world’s children and other Millennium Development Goals cannot be achieved. The general public is powerless to rise up against the forces of the global industrial food complex and we so desperately need a non-government entity to provide global guidelines and oversight for food production and the protection of natural water resources. What we allow others to do to the soil and water will affect the very existence of life itself. (signed) We hope to get a response from the Secretary General - in a cover letter, we are asking him to connect us to the UN Academic Impact Program. Next step on this line is to elect an International Women's Day message to UN Women's Exec. Dir. Michelle Bachelet. Hope you will consider my suggestion and check out BetterMeans. I'll help with getting going on InterMix. Start with your team: Professor John Wood DipAD (Hons), ADF (Manc), FRSA, Emeritus Professor in Design, Goldsmiths University of London. metadesigners Dr Andrea Berardi, lecturer in environmental information systems, chair of Open University Development and Environment Society. andrea-berardi Roger Eaton, developer of InterMix Collective Communication Software. Jess Reese, jessreese Dr. Vladimir Tretyakov, Director-Organizer, inteltech.iatp.by/tvinteltech.narod.ru Lecturer/moderator, www.wiserearth.org/group/Sch_pan_th Anyroad, I'll want to stay up with your progress. All the best, --Roger Eaton 415 933 0153

Christopher Fry

Nov 9, 2011
10:45

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Fry on Blindspotter's comments page: I agree it would be instructive to know the judges rationale. But let's not lose sight of the big picture. The importance of this contest is not really to pick winners, its to advocate good ideas, to help shape and improve them. While contests generate excitement and motivation, the real motivation is getting this planet back in shape. To that end, we can learn from this contest and make better rules for next year's event. One of them might be to have a grand synthesis of good and mutually compatible ideas at the end of each event. That "meta-proposal" is part of the "presentation of winners". There could thus be the people's choice, the judges choice, and the synthesis choice. This synthesis might snatch just the best pieces of many proposals. So for instance, the core precycle idea might be a chosen piece but other aspects of the proposal it came from could be left out. I don't have a process for constructing such a synthesis but I'm sure we could come up with one. That process should avoid, however, merely picking "lowest common denominator" ideas. In comment #60 above, there's a proposal which boils down to: "more UN emphasis on ensuring basic human rights to clean food and water" to which I respond, gee why not throw in peace, justice and happiness too? To be useful, a proposal needs to specify concrete actions, dollar amounts (or other reasources) needed, and where those dollars come from. If a proposer isn't willing to put stakes in the ground, why should its reviewers?

Celeste

Nov 10, 2011
02:21

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Sorry to hear about the mysterious axing. Is there somewhere the judges have explained the process? Was the feasibility check part of the initial criteria?

Lisa Visser

Aug 28, 2012
11:06

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The likelihood that this was rejected on feasibility grounds underscores the enormity of the problem before us. And it's sad, because global concensus and action taking precedence over disparate interests is precisely what's required.

James Greyson

Aug 28, 2012
12:31

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Thanks Lisa and Celeste! Yes, feasibility was part of the criteria, alongside novelty. Judges chose not to make a review comment here but I'd guess that the proposal may suffer from being beyond the usual 'policy space' where climate solutions are debated. This makes it harder to get onto media or political desks. The CoLab proved to be a great platform to get feedback and build support for this proposal. Ideas welcome on next steps to try to make it happen.

Jack Harich

Oct 13, 2013
03:55

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BlindSpotter asked me "Would you have a minute to flick through my past proposal and add a quick comment on whether this gets to one of the sources of the problem? Does a more systemic policy automatically hit more change resistance or could it help with resistance?" Here's a short and hopefully helpful answer: Skimming over your very long proposal, it seems to be based on the suggestion that "Global problems can be solved as a whole, for example with a 'circular economy'." For any particular large social problem there are a number of solutions that could work. The environmental sustainability problem is a good example. Solutions like renewable energy, zero population growth, product life cycle design, etc could all help. The problem is the system is not significantly adopting them. This is the barrier all suggested solutions face: How to get them accepted by the system? There is nothing (?) in this proposal to overcome the root causes of system change resistance. Right now the human system is strongly resisting change to solutions that would solve various common good problems, like climate change. Until we know the root causes of change resistance, how can we design solutions with a high probability of working the first time? Please see this paper for much more detail on this topic: http://www.thwink.org/sustain/articles/009/ChangeResistanceAsCrux.htm Hope this helps, Jack Harich

James Greyson

Oct 14, 2013
10:01

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Thanks Jack! The proposal assumes that system change resistance is built into all systems involving change resistant people (ie anyone!). I consider two types of resistance: 1. opposing change that doesn't fit the current paradigm 2. opposing change OF the current paradigm 99.9% of change efforts seek change within the system and hence are blocked or limited. This proposal is an example of change of the system, from linear (waste making) to circular (waste preventing). Fixing this system corrects the underlying systemic error causing climate change and a thousand other unacceptable symptoms. It overcomes much of the type 1 resistance by shifting both culture and economics, so for example profitability aligns with cutting emissions and other wastes. Type 2 resistance is more about our scope of ambition and imagination. 40 years of persistent unsustainability has shrunk this so systemic change has become largely off-the-radar and invisible - even when put right under people's noses! Welcoming your thoughts on this challenge!

Jack Harich

Oct 15, 2013
08:33

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Hi there blindspotter. First, what is your real name? I find it difficult to communicate with people who hide behind a crazy user name. It's a real put off. In professional circles, people use their real name. Second, you are having trouble with basic analytical technique. Your thinking is not tight. You are making many cause and effect leaps with no logical proof. This is called an intuitive problem solving approach, as opposed to an analytical approach. In your case you are breezing right through rigorous analysis and just announcing conclusions, with no real consideration of proof. May I suggest you study a few books on problem analysis. An excellent one to start with is Morgan Jones' "The Thinker's Toolkit: 14 powerful techniques for problem solving." Studying, and not just reading, books like this can change your life. Before the book, please see this page on "What is an analytical approach?" http://www.thwink.org/sustain/articles/000_AnalyticalApproach/index.htm This should help you to see what I'm trying to say here. Third, you need to make the leap to becoming a systems thinker. This skill is required for solving difficult complex system problems, or to contributing to such solutions in a major way. The book that did it for me, and for many others, is Peter Senge's "The Fifth Discipline." Just trying to help, Jack Harich

James Greyson

Oct 15, 2013
08:31

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Hi Jack, everyone's names and profiles are linked to their comments, eg https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/member/-/member/userId/151266 I understand you didn't like something about my approach but I didn't read what exactly you didn't like. I guess with systems thinkers like you at hand there's no need for vested interests to oppose systems changes such as circular economy ;-) I enjoyed Senge's writing too. All the best, James
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