What will BlindSpot Think Tank do in 2015? We will;
- Support your project
- Lead Planet Levers Lab (preparing policy options for global system change)
- Build the Climate Rescue Centre (policy and practice to reverse climate chaos) and
- Inspire Circular Economy 4 Real (putting cradle-to-cradle into economics)
- Unlearn Unsustainability (antidote to thinking that causes but cannot solve problems)
Support for your project!
For over 2 decades we have worked with diverse clients (schools and universities, multinational companies, campaign groups, technology start-ups, national and international institutions) on sustainability and security issues. We specialise in mapping missed opportunities and collaborative change to match the scale of challenges. Please check out our services and get in touch for a chat.
Planet Levers Lab
Unique untried method. Four decades of political problem-solving has incredibly solved no global problems. All the underlying security, sustainability and financial systemic risks continue to worsen. Regular problem-solving conveniently assumes that complex problems can be managed separately and incrementally. Incredibly the opposite assumption, that global complexity can be managed only as an interlocked whole system, has never been explored or attempted!
An antidote to political failure. The Planet Levers Lab offers the first non-reductionist planet-scale problem-solving method. ‘Planet levers’ are ready-to-use policy options designed to match the complexity, scale and speed of the problems. Critical ecological, social and economic risks could still be reversed if we act now.
The Planet Levers method:
- Blindspotting. The four decade experiment with solely reductionist incremental solutions is ended. We’ve learned that interlinked global problems cannot be resolved separately or gradually.
- Global security. It’s possible to unite diverse societal goals such as economic security, resource security, climate security, food security etc. The global security goal-set seeks all forms of security for all people.
- System change. At whole system scale, old obstacles can become new options for change to match the scale of the problems. Multiple system dynamics can be reversed not just reduced. Less bad is not good enough.
- Policy for planet leverage. Unlocking this complexity requires highly innovative ‘policy switches‘ (also called planet levers); as tangible mechanisms to shift worldviews, decisions and outcomes.
- A new default mode. The switched systems (of mindsets, worldviews, economics) can then self-organise dispersed solutions in the same manner as they previously caused problems.
Tasks for Planet Levers Lab
Seed stage: Locate initial funding and collaborators. PLL website to include published global security and policy switch research from the NATO Science Programme. Opensourced visualisation to map coherence with issues and other policy proposals. Game app to make the system dynamics easy to explore.
Launch: Provide routes via business and public to influence policy-makers. Briefings and infographics to relate topical issues to the potential for globalsecurity strategy. Media pack to support journalists writing about PLL. Academic paper on ‘Earth system governance’.
Year Zero: Pressure from business and public enables planet levers to enter policy-making debates. Media comment on the expanded policy landscape. All planet levers implemented internationally within 1 year, replacing political system failure with the prospect of global security.
More from Planet Levers Lab
Paper published by NATO, 2010: Seven policy switches for global security (see section 4). NATO Advanced Research Workshop, Split. (Publisher’s link, slides, published paper, my blog with abstract and links to each policy switch, event pdf.)
International Environmental Governance as paradigm governance. Op-Ed for Earth System Governance project. (Article)
Follow Planet Levers Lab on twitter @blindspotting.
Our ‘big system change’ talks and professional services.
Potential supporters and other collaborators are warmly invited to make contact.
Climate Rescue Centre
Climate chaos is one of many symptoms of our collective failure to address global problems. With the spread of extreme weather and Arctic melting, the political capacity to imagine and enact effective new responses is shrinking. This is tragic, but we can respond to implement a climate rescue strategy that enables effective solutions on a previously unimaginable scale.
The Climate Rescue Centre provides policy and practice to fully encompass the scale of the problem. This combination is designed to lead civilisation to reverse both the legacy carbon debt and the underlying global system dynamic of climate change. Success of the Climate Rescue Centre would be observed by multiple systemic risks rapidly diminishing, including global greenhouse gas net-emissions falling toward and beyond zero.
Workstreams for the Climate Rescue Centre
1. Reframing climate within the challenge of wider change in an indivisible global system. Climate security is not available separately from other issues. Worsening climate insecurity can be addressed with transformative global shifts in policy being advanced by our Planet Levers project. The Climate Rescue Centre will develop collaborations, papers and presentation materials for business, media and decision-makers. We will show how typical climate solutions such as renewables and reforestation can be scaled up at unprecedented speed by policies that work with whole systems rather than just the symptoms. An example of previous work is the most supported climate proposal in MIT’s Climate CoLab. Fix the system – get a global ‘circular economy’ sets out how to engage key global forces such as capitalism and markets to systematically solve problems they’ve historically caused such as climate instability.
2. Recalibrating climate ambitions. Decades of climate solutions have sought to cut emissions yet emissions continue to rise. Our climate ambitions must rise to the challenge, by enabling rapid cuts in not just emissions but also carbon concentrations. Carbon sinks must be expanded not only to offset society’s unavoidable emissions but also to remove accumulated excess carbon from the atmosphere and oceans. This is achievable with accelerated expansion of a photosynthesis/biochar cycle, reversal of the loss of ecosystems and other carbon negative activity. Climate Rescue Centre has pioneered innovative policy options to make these practicable and will work to bring these opportunities to the public and policy-makers. An example in MIT’s Climate CoLab is the Biochar Economies proposal for local currencies to scale up the use of biochar worldwide.
3. Demonstrating carbon-negative building and lifestyles. In an era when radically ambitious solutions are vital, it is ironically common to hear that global problems cannot be solved, only gradually ‘mitigated’. Meaningful policy proposals risk being dismissed as idealism unless presented alongside tangible examples of the policy working in practice. Climate Rescue Centre will demonstrate multiple innovative methods and technologies that could enable carbon-negative housing and lifestyles. These will include a wide range of applications for making and using biochar, including building carbon-negative cookstoves, bbqs, ovens/kilns, soil improvement, pollution prevention, cultivating food and fuel, purifying water and carbon-negative building materials.
More from Climate Rescue Centre
- Article in edie.net. Blindspotting climate talks; from shrinking thinking to systems thinking (raising ‘climate action’ to a new scale of ambition).
- 2014 Proposals in MIT Climate CoLab. The economy is a carbon pump; let’s switch it to reverse(two novel methods to price carbon). The great escape – to a coherent whole planet solution (policies for climate rescue by systemic change).
- Carbon-negative could be cost-negative. Presentation for University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment, 30th Jan 2014.
- Blog on repeated failure of international climate summits due to neglect of simple systems thinking.
- James Greyson was on the expert panel for the Guardian Development and World bank Connect4Climate discussion on building an effective climate movement, 14th Nov 2013. See all discussion; ‘best bits’ summary article; James’ comments.
- Selected papers and presentations including JCP-published market-based tool to slash emissions and other wastes via circular economy.
- Follow the Climate Rescue Centre on twitter @Climate_Rescue, hastag #climaterescue.
- Our Climate Rescue talks and professional services.
- Potential funding partners and other collaborators are invited to make contact now.
Circular Economy 4 Real
Circular economy is the ‘swiss army knife’ of any possible sustainable future. With this, economic growth derives from activities that enable future economic growth, using resources in cycles without the accumulation of wastes that drives resource loss, climate change and toxic pollution. Without this, economic growth will continue to be self-defeating and the multitude of ecological and economic problems can only worsen. The subsequent systemic collapse can and must be avoided.
The same concept of merging economic and ecological success has been variously described as zero waste, cradle to cradle and industrial ecology over past decades, dating back to the classic ‘spaceman economy’ set out in a 1966 paper by the American economist Kenneth Boulding. A steady stream of initiatives and case studies has shown the practicality and value of product designs and business designs allied to circular economy. Incredibly, the only thing missing has been an initiative for the design of the circular economy itself!
The necessary switch to a circular economy hasn’t happened because initiatives have focussed on change within the ‘system’ rather than change of the system of economics. Despite all the initiatives, mindsets, habits and markets continue to self-organise the wrong outcomes at whole-economy scale. Thus circular economy remains a mirage that people only imagine and hope is getting closer. Yet a change to circular economy for real is not hard to do and could be instituted anytime. Our project will demonstrate this via breakthrough innovations and inspire circular economy to happen for real.
Tasks for Circular Economy 4 Real
Year 1: Identify project collaborators. Project website to include published papers and infographics for the CE4Real tool kit (‘throw away the idea of waste’, ‘precycling’ as communications and design tool, radical economic growth strategy and rigorous market-based tool for all resource flows). Launch and publicise project.
Year 2: Support collaborators in the use and promotion of the CE4Real tool kit. Support top decision makers in the use of the CE4Real tool kit. Provide text and editing for high-profile media articles.
Year 3: Assess national and international decision-makers readiness to act. Share report on project outcomes. Public policy should now include Circular Economy 4 Real policy options.
- Lemmings vs circular economy. Governing the Anthropocene, Hannover, Germany. July 2015. Circular economy as case study of radical systemic change. (Event, Slides)
- Ambitious circular economy is within reach but beware the mob! Circular Materials Economy. March 2015. (Article)
- Precycling premiums as a policy tool to mainstream circular economy. Presentation at workshop for Dutch government and policy experts. March 2015. (Slides)
- Extending producer responsibility with ‘precycling premiums’. Best practice case study in ‘Governments Going Circular’ by De Groene Zaak, Dutch Sustainability Business Association. Feb 2015. (Case-study, Full report, see chapter 6 on Big ideas for a circular transition)
- Circular economy; what’s in it for mining? Wrap-up talk for Future Mining and Minerals Conference. Stockholm, Jan 2015. (Summary, slides)
- System change is not hard to do just hard to see. Webinar for ThinkDIF Disruptive Innovation Festival. Oct 2014. (Blog including video, Event page, slides, discussion at ThinkDIF)
- The precycling approach to the circular economy. Future Circular Materials Conference keynote talk. Stockholm, Sept 2014. (Speakers, programme, slides)
- Igniting the circular economy into action. Webinar hosted by BeWasteWise with James Greyson, Geraldine Brennan; moderated by Maxine Perella. July 2014. (Web recording.)
- From evolution to revolution; systemic tools for circular economy. Presentation to EU environmental attachés. Brussels, July 2014. (Slides)
- New Concepts Towards Zero Waste. Presentation to European Commission Green Week by Arthur ten Wolde and James Greyson, Brussels, June 2014. (Event link, slides pdf, photos, Briefing: Green Week Policy Levers)
- BlindSpot’s evidence to the UK House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee inquiry on circular economy, April 2014. (Inquiry, Evidence link)
- The Circular Economy: Are We There Yet? Chartered Institute of Waste Management Journal. Feb 2014. (Publisher’s link, published paper)
- Article on Edie.net: We’re just three steps from a circular economy. Original article, my blog.
- Paper published in Journal of Cleaner Production, 2006: An economic instrument for zero waste, economic growth and sustainability. Publisher’s link, paper on precaution.org.
- Paper published by NATO, 2008: Systemic Economic Instruments for Energy, Climate, and Global Security (see section 4). Publisher’s link, slides, published paper.
- Paper published by NATO, 2010: Seven policy switches for global security (see section 4). NATO Advanced Research Workshop, Split. Publisher’s link, slides, published paper, my blog with section 4 of the paper (this is a handy short intro to doing CE 4 real), event pdf.
- Book section published by Earthscan: Positive Development: From Vicious Circles to Virtuous Cycles. Page 336.
- Economics panel presentation at Middle East Waste Summit, Dubai: From credit crunch to planet crunch – or revival? Slides, paper.
- Keynote presentation, National Waste Summit, Dublin: Zero disposal is no longer a dream. Slides, event programme, article in Sunday Business Post, blog on UKWIN.
- Follow the Circular Economy 4 Real project on twitter @blindspotting and #Circulareconomy #4Real.
- Our ‘circular economy for real’ keynote talks and professional services.
- Potential funding partners and other collaborators are invited to make contact now.
Today’s habits of thinking cause the world’s problems but cannot solve them. Over time, as more complex global problems become more overwhelming and the future becomes less secure, people’s thinking habits and collective responses become increasingly counterproductive. This suggests why 40 years of efforts at all levels to resolve global problems led instead to dramatic worsening. Thinking habits are civilisation’s biggest blindspot but also our biggest chance at a positive future.
‘Shrinking thinking’ is where the challenge of complexity is answered by withdrawing from it. Complexity that seems too big is ‘managed’ by disregarding most of it and attending to selected areas. Consequently, the potential for change in these areas is limited so ambition is restricted to whatever improvement seems possible. Shrinking thinking is an unintended outcome of education delivered in fragments. It is reinforced by mass media and institutions attending to fragments. It has come to define the default approach to all the problems that it causes.
Shrinking thinking is optional. Change is a change of mind that becomes possible when made visible as an option. This change can be attempted at any scale and for society as a whole by redesigning education to enhance, not remove, people’s innate capacity for thinking outside boxes. For all seemingly intractable international problems, this is the ultimate solution-at-source.
Workstreams for Unlearn Unsustainability
1. Enliven education. Education never set out to replace young creative curious minds with reductionist habits only suited to fitting in with other reductionist minds. Shrinking thinking is not on any curriculum. It’s caused by mainstream pedagogy; the assembly line of teaching fragments of information in a predetermined order. New habits of thinking can be cultivated by new habits of learning and teaching. We will grow an international community of educators to collectively opensource strategies and practice for enlivened education.
2. Unshrink thinking. The world is dramatically failing the ‘Einstein test’, by expecting problems to be solved with the same thinking that causes them. Even when education designs-out reductionism, the global problem-set remains so precipitous that only the current generation of adults have the chance to think and act differently. We will show this can be done with any willing group, using collaborative blindspotting, imagination vs problem stretching, solution synergies, system change mapping and design of global leverage points.
More from Unlearn Unsustainability
- Practical methods to enliven education. http://www.enliven-ed.com
- NATO published paper including redesigned education as a prerequisite for global security.
- TEDx by James Greyson. Let’s unshrink thinking and reverse reverse-progress… (Flyer, talk is March 26th in Bradford, England)
- TEDx by James Greyson. How to Unlearn Unsustainability. (Slides, talk).
- TEDx by Lizzie Overton. Education for Sustainability. (Talk)
- Follow Unlearn Unsustainability on twitter @enliven_education and #unlearn.
- Our ‘unlearn unsustainability’ professional services.
- Potential funding partners and other collaborators are invited to make contact now.