Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse

Notes in preparation for a discussion of the book by David Orr, published 2009, at the Sustainability Book Club at Cal Poly.

David Orr is one of my gurus, but the first time I read this book I was disappointed by its repetitiousness, vagueness, lack of sequential structure or sustained, fully supported and defended claims, and its preaching to the choir, who have already heard most of this many times.  The central points were hardly controversial or new for us, but still unacceptable to the great majority of citizens who are looking more than ever at short term rescues or pleasures. For that reason the urgency and insistence of the tone seemed irritating and disrespectful of the audience. Compared to his last book, Design on the Edge, which contained a fascinating autobiographical narrative and a detailed account of the remarkable history of the building he was responsible for planning, designing and financing at Oberlin College, this book felt vague, uninspired, and sentimental. What does it mean after all to insist that what we should do is “deepen our humanity.” (202)

I also found it sadly dated.  Though filled with topical references to the impending Obama adminstration, the events of the fifteen months since his inauguration made many of the proposals about transforming governance and launching a revolution in Washington seem painfully overoptimistic.

Nevertheless I decided to give it another try, either to be able to articulate specifically what I found wrong with the book or to give it a more sympathetic and engaged reading.

First, I confirmed what I suspected about the book’s process of composition.  Most of the material here was previously published in the form of essays that Orr writes for the journal Conservation Biology and others.  Many of these can be found at the website,  That accounted for and in a way justified the sense that each chapter recovered much of the same territory and started from scratch rather than building on what preceded.  Viewed from this perspective, each chapter had the coherence and scope of his remarkable speeches, such as the one I heard at the organizing conference for Focus the Nation in Las Vegas.  And even when general points were repeated, Orr seemed in each essay to summon up different examples and sources.

A second reading also revealed an overall structure of chapters that moved forward from beginning to middle and end despite the backtracking.  Preface and Introduction both state the predicament and his solutions. We are facing what has been called a long emergency or a bottleneck, a worldwide period of crisis brought on by the environmental degradation and climate change that misguided human impacts have produced over the last 200 years. The way out will be long and arduous, and only possible with strong, transformative leadership, primarily in the presidency but also at all levels of government and society.  Leaders have three leading tasks: move the citizenry out of a state of denial to a recognition of the dangers, develop energy policies that reverse our dependence on carbon and promote renewables, and foster a deepening of public morality emphasizing fairness, compassion, nonviolence and a sense of purpose and reverence for nature grounded in appreciation and gratitude. These three mandates are reaffirmed throughout the book.

The three chapters of section I, Politics and Governance, assert that Government is the only agency strong enough to effectively address the emergency but that government needs to be transformed. Chapter 1, Governance, asserts that the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change and its associated catastrophes can be faced by reversing the trend toward unregulated corporate power, trivialized and ineffective journalism, excessive consumerism and rule by lobbyists.  This can be done by redistributing wealth and privilege, publicly funding elections, smartening land use and agricultural policy, guaranteeing universal access to communication media and promoting small community autonomy.  But first government itself must be transformed from its present corrupt and dysfunctional state to a just, effective and elevating one. This will have to be accomplished through a mechanism like a new Constitutional Convention and the establishment of a new consensus.

Chapter 2 is a meditation on democracy, the form of government most likely to succeed despite its faults, the failures of its alternatives, like natural capitalism, and unregulated free-market capitalism, and the proposal of a legal, constitutional framework for instituting the kinds of social transformation needed to address climate change based on the new idea of the legal standing of future generations. Chapter 3, Leadership in the Long Emergency, compares today’s crisis with those faced by Lincoln and Roosevelt, and concludes that Obama can learn leadership lessons from both his great predecessors, which include the necessity of understanding and framing those crises both as legal-constitutional issues requiring preservation of law and tradition and as moral issues requiring deep personal insight and unshaken commitment. Orr repeats the laundry list of reforms mentioned earlier that Obama needs to accomplish.  Chapter 4, Leadership, defines true leadership, like that of those predecessors, as the capacity to energize and give direction to the populace.

Part II, Connections, is transitional in the overall structure of the book, but provides a sample of some of Orr’s strongest qualities as a writer, manifested when he lets a more imaginative, associative principle guide his design.  Chapter 5, The Carbon Connection, juxtaposes two powerful narrative descriptions: nature’s devastation of humans in New Orleans by Katrina, presumably caused by climate change, and humans’ devastation of nature in Coal Companies’ mountaintop removal, causing climate change. This is connected to Chapter 6, The Spirit of Connection, which explores spiritual and religious perspectives on Climate Change, differentiating the apocalyptic fundamentalism that both affirms and brings it on with the subjective experiences of wonder, reverence and gratitude for the gift of life that provide meaning and hope for those struggling to protect it.

Part III, Farther Horizons, contains three chapters overlapping earlier chapters and one another in content.  Chapter 7, Milennial Hope, lists factors blocking us from taking the steps necessary to confront and deal with the coming crisis and solutions, psychological, political, and spiritual, concluding with a story of Gandhian non-violence displayed by Amish toward a mass murderer who shot a number of their children. Chapter 8, Hope at the End of our Tether, expands the emphasis on anti-militarism, Gandhian Satyagraha and other Gandhian principles like anti-materialism”shift from wealth to happiness”social justice, and localism.

The final chapter, The Upshot: What is to be Done? echoes both Aldo Leopold and Lenin, verbally in the titles of two of their well known works, and thematically in calling for the creation of a community that includes natural beings and systems and in calling for a total revolution to be initiated by a vanguard of leaders, giving direction and energy to an awakened populace. The first section covers the same ground as the preceding chapters, but the chapter and section ends with a powerful vision of a desireable outcome from the long emergency only ten years in the future, imagined in his home town of Oberlin Ohio, where the  programs he has set in motion as an activist and educator have run their course.  The vision is startlingly similar to the kinds of programs and visions activists at Cal Poly and in San Luis Obispo County have dedicated themselves. More than anything in this book, these few pages (212-215) provide some of the grounds for hope that present conditions don’t encourage in regard to most of the books larger recommendations.

“Postscript: A Disclosure” is vintage Orr.  It’s a recollection of the  extraordinarily hot summer of 1980 when he and his brother worked like slaves on a farm in Arkansas, as the temperature reached 111 degrees and stayed there. It was then that he became interested in climate change.  He says he felt it viscerally, the memory recorded in his body.  That’s why it’s presented as a disclosure.  But the impact of that memory, I’m afraid is unlikely to be felt until the rest of us consistently experience such nasty conditions, and by then it’s likely to be too late.

Taking issue:

  • “leadership””is Obama like Lincoln and Roosevelt, sticking to the moral vision, keeping legal and constitutional integrity at the fore, reaching the people?
  • Seemed so at inauguration, but less so now, largely because of loss of confidence resultant from bailouts and compromises, failure to seize the opportunity with courage”e.g. Copenhagen
  • The long emergency”less perceivable now than in 2006, when much of this was written and when Katrina and An Inconvenient Truth and IPCC and oil spike converged to shake people up.
  • Non-violence, Satyagraha”true, and a manifestation of deeper humanity, but turmoil is less likely to bring it to the fore, especially when the rulers and perpetrators are becoming more brazen
  • Coupling peace, justice and sustainability has advantages but also makes any progress seem hopeless, because it will leave so much undone.

Annotated Outline
I.    Preface
A.    General
1.    3 ways to commit suicide: nuclear annihilation, environmental degradation, technologies that can self replicate and find humanity useless
2.    We’re in the bottleneck”E.O.Wilson”era
3.    Optimism”we’ll come through chastened and bettered
4.    Carbon trap”reducing footprint from 22 tons per person per year to 1-2 tons
B.    Great leadership essential: courage to help public understand
a)    Cassandras and Jeremiahs treated with denial
C.    Long emergency ahead”leaders need clarity about best economic and energy options”climate destabilization outcome of system created by dangerously incomplete image of reality
D.    foster vision of under stress, a humane decent future¦kindness [vague]
a)    Get worse before better for a long time. “need for a long term view, knowing we wont live to see results
b)    Climate change not a problem to be fixed but worsening condition
E.    His thesis
1.    Different from two general positions:
F.    rising tide of groups, planetary immune system”Hawken
a)    However “no adequate substitute for better leadership at all levels””bromide
G.    focus only on solutions, not problems or dilemmas”
1.    his position is neither; tech fixes not enough; need more analysis of source of problem”we need better leadership and improved democracy, more creative and competent management of the public business
H.    This book is about consciousness raising”quote: leader’s task is consciousness-raising.  [weak, over optimistic about Obama, controversial term and one that’s dated]
II.    Introduction
A.    Warnings have been ignored”trivia has been emphasized
B.    Tepid response by US leaders to global warming
1.    No tech solution”already stated
2.    Abrupt changes are likely
3.    We are still burning more fossil fuel
a)    Extreme weather is breaking records “ weak
b)    Description of what will happen
4.    Problem is really bad
5.    Leaders denied and delayed”acted imprudently, no insurance
6.    Positive side
a)    Polls indicate Public awareness is increasing rapidly”weak prose and questionable
b)    Markets for carbon
c)    Boone Pickens investing in wind”old and misleading news
d)    Cities and localities have climate plans
e)    Not big enough transformation considered
C.    Political failure
1.    What leaders didn’t do”eight bullet points, including wasting money and starting wars
2.    The enemy is all of us”lifestyle
3.    New public priorities required
4.    Must be dealt with by governments
D.    Assumes we’ll succeed
1.    Need for leadership
2.    3 challenges:
a)    prepare public to understand seriousness of climate change and challenge to our style of government
b)    develop connections between energy choices and ecological consequences
c)    provide honest vision of future, authentic hope
III.    Part I: Politics and Governance
A.    Ch. 1 Governance
1.    Need new constitutional convention to alleviate anti-democratic and dysfunctional elements
2.    Climate and environment are complex, interactive, nonlinear
3.    Govt. operations are the opposite
4.    Attributable to constitution’s obsession with property rights
5.    Govt has been incompetent: organized to exacerbate environmental problems; shrouded in secrecy
6.    Political demobilization of people, empowerment of corporations and military
7.    Converging challenges”the five (plus 2)
a)    global warming consequences (again!)
(1)    Not a moment to waste; 350 ppm
(2)    Later disasters coming”as if this hadn’t already been stated
(3)    The list repeated in expanded form¦storms etc
(4)    Level of public awareness and policy discussion doesn’t match gravity
(5)    No technical solution
b)    2.Breakdown of ecosystems
c)    End of cheap oil
d)    Blowback; military vulnerability
e)    Collapsed financial system
(i)    All parts of long emergency, and will interact with one another
(ii)    Another challenge is population growth”why an afterthought?
(iii)    Also a bunch of domestic problems”infrastructure etc.
8.    Implications”vague heading
a)    First priority of govt is reduce emissions by climate and energy policy
(1)    Not clean coal or nuclear
b)    Economic growth should slow down; boom is bad
(1)    We need to redistribute wealth; relearn frugality, sharing, neighborliness (how?)
(2)    Resilience
c)    Government will have to relocate and house growing numbers
d)    Government will have to reorganize food system; localize
e)    Government will have to mobilize people to work together; great leader
9.    Government and markets
a)    Corporations cant save us; rejecting market fundamentalism
b)    Government must regulate them in interest of the public
10.    Governance and public order
a)    Our situation more grave than the founders’
b)    Robust organizational ecology”Senge
c)    Government must be better at getting its job done after decades of neglect
d)    Box 1
(1)    Land use”counter sprawl
(2)    Landowners have too much power”coal companies etc
(3)    Limits on property rights”adapting Locke
(4)    The commons and public property; need for property constraints working on long term; example of NEPA
(5)    System of ownership modified in favor of “trust conception of government” to protect other species
(6)    Second section of Magna Carta: Charter of the Forest, to protect basic natural resources as the commons
(7)    Basic guarantees of food and shelter underlie property rights.
B.    Ch. 2 Late night thoughts about Democracy in the Long Emergency
1.    Democracy and the Greeks”couldn’t manage it for long;
2.    it may have thrived in last 200 years because of lack of scarcity of resources; everyone could try to get rich”scarcity may now threaten it
3.    Also threatened by advertising and consumption which dumbs people down
4.    Recent decades support skepticism about democracy
5.    Hardin, Lovelock, Heilbroner see need for authoritarian govt to deal with environmental threat
6.    Record of authoritarians is worse; commons were well managed by people
7.    [Lapses again into description of coming crisis, losing thread of argument]
8.    Alternatives to democracy
a)    Conservatives: trust markets [already discussed]
b)    Design revolution”government still needed
c)    Natural capitalism”based on harnessing rational self-interest
(1)    Not plausible because of lamentable history of corporations
(2)    No reason even green corporations would be just or democratic  59
(3)    Natural capitalists will keep consumer economy growing
(4)    Overarching governmental supervision necessary
(5)    Necessary but insufficient
9.    Restoring democracy
a)    Depends on wisdom of people, wisdom of crowds
b)    Requires good press, which has failed
(1)    Because of monopolization
(2)    Short term profit obsession
(3)    Restore it with fair and balanced  rules, need to serve public interest, break up monopolies
c)    This results from all the money in the political system
(1)    All federal elections publically financed”[cf. Supreme Court decision]
d)    Improve voting system
e)    Habits of the heart”vs. contentiousness, right wing dirty war
f)    Failure of liberalism and conservatism”liberals sell out to corporations, conservatives to fascists, who distracted us from noticing the transfer of wealth upward
g)    Election of 2008 is desire for new direction, but unclear if we go there
h)    Analogy to Greek: democracy diverted from serious issues  68  [correct]
10.    Beyond left and right: case for protecting posterity
a)    Examples of Democrats and Repubs coming together for NEPA, Clean Air and Clean Water Act 1969-1972
b)    Roosevelt era
c)    New agenda must be based on awareness of resource constraint
d)    Concern for future “Burke
e)    Law has nothing about the rights of posterity”how can it have standing?
f)    Intergenerational obligation”searching for legal arguments [what about present day obligations: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness? Education? Crime-free homes, etc.]
g)    [No answer supplied to a question that may be questionable”or not]
h)    Proposes a statement of limitation of rights””no generation and no nations have the right to alter the biogeochemical cycles of Earth or impair stability, integrity or beauty of natural systems, the consequences of which would fall as a form of intergenerational remote tyranny on all future generations.”
(1)    Effort at Jeffersonian formulation
11.    Box 2.1
a)    Richard Posner, conservative legal scholar, book Catastrophe, calls for legal community to be more educated about science and large threats.
12.    Box 2.2: Shelf  life of economic ideas
a)    Ideas have consequences: some of his ideas: consumption is bad, slow down, use less energy, don’t finance with debt, build economy on ecological realities, don’t allow stock to be sold until six months after purchase
C.    Leadership in the Long Emergency [drawing heavily on Gary Wills and Arthur Schlesinger historians]
1.    Analogy to civil war and Lincoln
a)    [invoking Lincoln”looking for leadership 84]
(1)    He frames the meaning of the civil war, from before it started until it was almost over, looking to a long term horizon
(a)    Slavery a great wrong, preservation of Constitution was prior issue
(b)    All framed as moral issues
(2)    Didn’t equivocate about the wrong of slavery
(3)    Needed to address it within the existing framework of law and philosophy
(4)    Used language and logic brilliantly
(5)    Did not abuse religion to describe slavery or the South
(6)    Combined shrewdness and sagacity with moral clarity
(7)    Following his example: avoid complication and contentiousness”Climate change and sustainability are primarily issues of fairness and intergenerational rights, not technology or economics
b)    We need to state the great and permanent wrong  89
c)    We need to appeal to Universal Declaration of Human rights and the Earth Charter
d)    Following Lincoln’s use of religion, “we need to ground issues of climate change and sustainability in higher purposes resonant with what is best in the world’s great religions but is owned by no one creed.” 90  NB Higher Purposes
e)    We need leaders to persuade not on the basis of polls or spin, but persuasion at its best. [Gore?]
f)    Civil war tragedy arose out of evasions of previous generations; same for climate crisis and sustainability crisis of the future.
g)    Lincoln saw it as a longer term moral issue not solved by the war and the Constitutional Crisis.  He laid the framework for future solutions by naming and defining the moral issue
h)    Sustainability is a worse and broader crisis
2.    Analogy to Roosevelt’s first 100 days
a)    Model for restoring public confidence, though he didn’t solve underlying problems of economy
b)    Depth of crisis, energy and productiveness, understanding of American people
c)    Aimed first to overcome rampant fear, restore confidence in government and avoid economic collapse
d)    Experimental approach; new technologies of communication
e)    Didn’t solve any of the problems, but created confidence in capacity of democracy to confront serious problems
3.    Obama
a)    Facing greater crises than Lincoln or Roosevelt
b)    Needs to surface Bush admin’s crimes, restore rule of law, not paper them over”account for recent abuses
c)    Apart from all other problems, good climate policy is fundamental for the long haul and to restore confidence in government
d)    Think tank generates 300 actions over first 100 days he could take
e)    This issue must be primary [it hasn’t become so]
f)    Need to staff positions with people with scientific understanding
g)    Will have to raise morale of nation as things get worse
h)    Public reassurance, clear direction, honest information artfully delivered
i)    Need for access to public; airwaves, etc.  —  already stated
j)    Set framework for rational public debate about energy policy
(1)    Carbon eliminated per dollar spent
(2)    Energy return on investment
(3)    Speed of deployment of technology
(4)    Near term technical feasibility
(5)    Resilience
k)    Craft policies that join conservatives and liberals”consensus on
(1)    List on p. 102
l)    Right energy policy will solve or lessen many problems.  [Pollan: the right food policy will do the same]
m)    Need for big interface between policy and science, coordinate efforts across departments, assess technology, 100-year committee, assessing long term impacts
n)    Capacity to respond quickly to climate driven disasters
o)    Great encampment of K street lobbyists needs to be sent packing 104
(1)    Public finance of elections
p)    Mitigate and adapt to climate change at state and local levels
(1)    Food systems
(2)    Distributed energy
q)    Green Jobs program
r)    Lead the world on addressing climate
s)    Persuasive powers to rid us of outworn economic doctrines
D.    Leadership
1.    Provides direction, not framing issues
2.    Energizes people
3.    [those people engaged in sustainability have that direction and try to spread it; this book takes our position and moves it front and center, just as AASHE and Michael Crow at ASU; and the authors of all our books; the vision is there; needs leader to make it central; what we want from Cal Poly President]
4.    Argument for leadership, not just bottom up change; the two must work together [this book a testament to January 2009]
IV.    Part II: Connections
A.    The Carbon Connection”scenes of devastation
1.    Katrina, carbon dioxide increase
2.    Massey coal, Mt. top removal
3.    The connections
4.    Tragic sense of life, not false optimism
B.    The Spirit of Connection
1.    Repeats earlier point again and again, that technology, economics and politics wont provide answers; it’s a moral question [what does this mean?]
2.    [We have choice of life and death; back to the urgency of the problem”no forward motion of the argument, restating truisms and short logical chains]
3.    Some Christians share the concern, but not the fundamentalists
a)    End-time believers
b)    Bushies
c)    Need for abandonment of politeness”style of martin luther and luther king
d)    Dialogue constructively with religion, but don’t pandar [false dichotomy]
4.    Imagining the way religion and science could meet: telling a story
a)    Question: why should we be sustained? Are we worthy of survival?
b)    Trial of humanity before other creatures”prosecution
(1)    Defense: we are able to learn and create culture faster than other species
(2)    New movement is coming now
(3)    We are first species to show kindness to other species
(4)    We now have a sacred opportunity
c)    Berry and Swimme: humankind is part of an evolving universe
d)    Larger story: gratitude for gift of life
(1)    Start with harmonious rhythm; keys to paradise; sense of wonder and gratitude
(2)    Fall: improve creation by changing rhythm; control other men by seizing control of nature
(3)    Exploiting carbon
(4)    Later: change the rhythm of creation altogether 147
(a)    Baconian, Galilean science; quantification
(b)    Natural cycle to business cycle and other cycles
(c)    Change cadence of Creation and seize control of the great mystery of life
(5)    No sense of gratitude
(6)    Gratitude begins in the heart; thanksgiving for a gift, not entitlement”idea of grace
(7)    Expressions of gratitude: green business, biomimicry, animated by deeper than practical motive
(8)    Give back by getting away from carbon based civilization
V.    Part III: Farther Horizons
A.    Milennial Hope
1.    Dark views: Burns, Berry, Lovelock”no effect of warnings
2.    Descendents after the bottleneck
3.    Appropriate responses will come but too late
4.    Proposals of denial will counter them”geoengineering
5.    Immediate steps:  long list of what we need to do now 160   [I agree but see the opposite happening]
6.    Localism and making children aware and capable, promote community
7.    What blocks us from taking action
a)    Evil: nature of it hasn’t changed, but its become more powerful”is pg ande evil? Is every republican?
b)    [see aldo Leopold on the evolution of consciousness]
c)    near vs. long term thinking
d)    denial of uncomfortable realities
e)    people hold contradictory beliefs at the same time
f)    conform to peer pressure
g)    uncritical acceptance of authority under pressure
h)    exposure to violence in early life
i)    susceptible to fear
j)    cognitive traps
k)    erroneous thinking leading to self-fulfilling prophecies
l)    belief in atomistic self
8.    we need
a)    transformational  leaders and followers
b)    promote goodness in people and promote our biophilia”design of spaces
c)    corporate learning: Interface
d)    study successes
e)    move from self gratification to transcendance from self
f)    need better indicators of well-being”GNH not GDP
9.    spirit to rewrite national story
a)    people in cancer ward”less arrogant, more open, stubborn resilience [existential?]
b)    people overcoming addiction: public confession, reshaping of intention, stabilizing influence of support group, reclaiming of self mastery towards higher ends
c)    native story: radical hope for “future goodness that transcends current ability to understand what it is.” 173
10.    emerge from crisis transformed
11.    first necessary change
a)    improve societal resilience by reshaping how we provision food, energy, water and economic support”capacity to withstand and recover from disturbances
b)    global system is less resilient than ever 175
(1)    local efforts underway”food systems
12.    second change
a)    change education”siloing and inflexibility
b)    sustainability in education “ institutional transformation
13.    third change
a)    reform political life; move money out of the political process [reading this is like reading Granny D”she walked across the country at 90; what happened to McCain-Feingold?]
b)    work as we did to establish NEPA
14.    Another, by now irritating laundry list of good things we must build 178
15.    Story of gunman in Amish school and Amish forgiveness
a)    Applied grace, compassion, revolution in kindness  [Gandhi”transition to Vananda Shiva?]
B.    Hope at the end of our Tether
1.    Definition of hope:”ability to work for something because it is good.”
2.    Daunting consequences of climate change [once again the list]
3.    Sum total of opinions: “there are no easy answers¦.”
4.    Optimism/realistic hope under these circumstances
5.    False premises that need questioning”e.g. capitalism doesn’t need to change; public cant handle truth, better design and market adjustments are sufficient”[who are these straw men?]
6.    We are not told that the consumer way of life will have to be rethought
7.    Time to discuss deeper changes; climate change is symptom of larger disease
a)    People need to hear the truth
b)    Leaders need to summon people to extraordinary achievement”Gore?
8.    Carbon neutral society:
a)    List of items starting with front porches”[random goodthink]””better poetry,” better schools
b)    Do the same things we’d need to do anyway
9.    What people need to know
a)    Laws of thermodynamics imply that economic growth only increases the pace of disorder
b)    Basic sciences of ecology and biology”how the world works as a physical system
c)    Fundamentals of ecological carrying capacity
10.    Human fallibility and ignorance
a)    Leaders read literature; children learn practical skills
11.    Our fondness for violence
a)    Against people and nature”cf. Lewis Mumford
b)    Brute force
12.    Need change of mind-set
a)    Addiction to force”back tracking
b)    Overmilitarization
c)    Impossibility of perpetual economic growth in finite biosphere
d)    Need change
(1)    From more to better
(2)    Economy addressing needs
(3)    Fairly distribute wealth
e)    All are connected
13.    Evidence of hope
a)    Lack of happiness in this society
b)    Anti-consumer movement
c)    Gandhi and non-violence”lots of emphasis
d)    Question of realism
e)    Satyagraha; Gandhi on consumerism and industrialism
14.    Anti war
a)    Erasmian
b)    Get rid of nuclear weapons
C.    The Upshot: What is to be done”[echoing Leopold and Lenin]
1.    Epigraph: “deepen our humanity” 203
2.    “Emerging climate realities will drive this or the next president¦to more comprehensive measures”as a matter of national and global survival.” [basic assumptions that could be questioned if they were clearer] 203
3.    Economic problem will be solved in a few years; larger encompassing problem is climate
a)    Again provides evidence of coming climate emergency [perhaps repeated because it seems to be forgotten”this is a big concern]
b)    And repeats thesis
4.    Reasons why we’re not suited to respond to this emergency”psychological and political and economic
a)    No concept of rights of future generations
5.    Political challenge for president
a)    Necessary transformation in politics comparable to 1776”1800 [another historical comparison], showing it can be done
b)    Revolution needed [Lenin]”
c)    First: climate policy as linchpin connecting other issues
(1)    Accurate price on carbon fuels and incentives to develop alternatives
(2)    Coordinate government agencies
(3)    [hope in State and County responses]
d)    Second: public process to consider long-term changes in systems of governance, politics, and law”constitutional convention”a presidential commission
(1)    Reform system of governance to improve democracy and promote wise deliberation to solve problems in accord with ecological realities
(2)    Amend constitution to guarantee rights to future generations and the rights of nature”[Aldo Leopold]””should trees have standing”
(3)    Remove rights of personhood from corporations. [the opposite has occurred recently]
(4)    Create Earth Atmosphere Trust”based on recognition that Atmosphere is public commons; Earth Systems Science Agency”independent Federal Agency
(5)    Council of Elders to advise President, Congress, nation on long term climate matters”appointed with advice from NAS, ABA and other groups, to join Global Council of Elders
e)    Educate Americans from bully pulpit
(1)    Federally financed elections
(2)    Reform FCC
(3)    End lobbying revolving door
(4)    Desubsidize coal, gas and nuclear
(5)    Reduce pentagon budget by half
(6)    Confiscate 100% of profit from making weapons
(7)    Fairness and decency are essential to prosperity
(8)    Members of wider community of life
6.    All leaders and teachers must carry out this education
a)    We have the precepts and principles: “The time is now.”
7.    Revolution in Oberlin Ohio”[Orr as activist”first transform College, then town”[apply to San Luis Obispo]
a)    Civic gathering to prevent ruin by megamalls
b)    Four problems
(1)    Practical vision of post carbon prosperity
(2)    Financial means to pay for transition
(3)    Building new infrastructure
(4)    Structure private choices to provide incentives to choose renewables and locals
c)    Feasiblity studies commissioned
(1)    Ten years later”green businesses, green jobs
(2)    Revitalized downtown, LEED platinum hotel
(3)    Post fossil fuel prosperity
(4)    Farms and green belts, local food and forest system
(5)    Local supply of biofuels, advanced wastewater treatments
(6)    College spreading revolution
(7)    Scale large enough to be nationally instructive, but small enough to be both manageable and flexible
d)    Imagine a transformation just in time.
VI.    Postscript: A Disclosure
A.    Recollection of hot summer 1980”111 degrees in Arkansas
B.    First time springs went dry
C.    Evocation of drought and heat [well written, vivid]
D.    No one can say with certainty that these climate events are result of anthropogenic climate change.  But the odds they are rise
E.    He felt it viscerally; memory recorded in the body
F.    “Both the climate system and human systems are non-linear, which is to say both are subject to rapid and unpredictable changes that can spiral out of control with small provocations at certain times and places¦We will not be the same people at a consistent daily high of 110 degrees¦”

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