How to leverage the election results to your favor in the race to zero carbon

My fellow Americans. There was an election. How do you feel? And what does it mean for the Race to Zero Carbon?

chat Posted Nov 10, 2016 by Rezwan | Category : Teams
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Election Results

Election 2016. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Donald Trump electoral votes. Republicans won a majority of the House and Senate.

President-elect Aside

Per Ted Nordhaus in “What is to be done? Trump and Ecomodernism

This is the space where I am supposed to write about what a Trump Presidency might portend for climate, energy and the environment.  At present, I don’t believe I can in good faith do so.

…At least insofar as climate change is concerned, a Trump Presidency may not be much worse than a Clinton Presidency would have been, for the simple reason that explicit climate policy has had little impact upon the trajectory of emissions pretty much anywhere in the world.

But all of that at the moment seems largely beside the point.  The problem with all such speculation is that it normalizes the Trump Presidency at a moment when it is not at all clear that Trump and many of his supporters are fully committed to basic democratic norms.

…The risk for all of us is that in our haste to get back to normal politics and advocacy, we normalize a dangerous turn toward authoritarianism.

That said, the Breakthrough Institute does offer a round up of what other people are predicting for a Trump presidency.

As we wait for the presidency to unfold, and without in any way normalizing it, here are some things we’re focused on.

Good news! The race to zero carbon has never been about the president. It’s about YOU.

Many people think of the President as the prime player in climate change. We don’t. In case you missed our introductory video on turning the Race to zero carbon into a national pastime, check out minute 2:50. Politicians may be able to make (or block) some big policy changes. But in the end, their impact is incremental.

The problem is bigger than politics. 

A bigger problem?

If you think the president-elect is a problem, heads up. The North Pole is 36 degrees hotter than normal for this time of year.  A presidential policy for more or less coal won’t transform the situation.

It’s sad how, in the face of global climate catastrophe, the USA chose as president an orange Santa with coal for Christmas.

But even if we had chosen a green Santa with solar panels, it wouldn’t be enough.

Zero Carbon is bigger than this. You need to step up your game.

The president-elect is just one guy. There are 318 million other people in this country. How many players do we need on the field to win the race to zero carbon? Which fields and what plays?

For our civilization to get all the way to zero and beyond there’s no way around it. A critical mass of us needs to be wide awake, on board, flipping all kinds of switches. Technology will help, policies will help. But without broad based intrinsic motivation, commitment, innovation and action, we’re just killing time on the edge of this problem.

Much as we would all like to ignore it or leave it to politicians, there are no shortcuts.

Of course, politicians have their function. It doesn’t help when they fumble. But before you despair, it’s a good idea to fully understand the game. 

This is why Footprint to Wings is focused on systematically exploring everything involved in going all the way to zero and beyond. All the plays that all the players can do. We pledge to help you break through the noise, see the path and your teammates and options clearly.

President-elect Aside, Republicans can play a positive role in getting to zero carbon.

For those of you worried that a Republican House and Senate spells doom for the environment, it may help to know there are Republicans in the House who believe in climate change and clean energy. Get to know them. Check out the unfolding conservative clean energy agenda. Your definition of “clean energy” may vary, but there is a lot here to work with and build on. Read more.

Speaking of bipartisan action: Teamwork

This has been a toxic election. Polarization, disrespect, dismissal. This does not bode well for getting to zero carbon. This is a teamwork issue. We need both wings to fly. How can we pull it together?

Two ways to improve national teamwork:

  1. Host a “Living Room Conversation” (LRC) in your home; and
  2. End “First Past the Post” (FPTP) voting (Third Party Spoiler alert!)

Note: a call for bipartisan communication is not about normalizing authoritarianism. (Besides, you can’t communicate with authoritarians. You obey or resist). The communication here is with the people in your life, the folks you know personally who happen to have different preferences and ideas about how to do things.

The better your communication is in your own circles, the easier it is to identify and resist the alleged malevolent authoritarian forces seeking to hijack our republic. Also, the easier it will be to figure out which zero carbon plays you want to pursue with your friends and family, and as a state.

It’s Teamwork 101. You can’t leave difficult conversations to the government by proxy. They will make a mess of it. Special interests will prevail. And you will be left spluttering on Facebook. There’s no way around this one either. You have to sit down and talk, person to person, with friends and family. If this is really going to be a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” then “We The People” need to get much better at discussing our options, feelings and preferences among each other.

For the record, Footprint to Wings has always advocated bipartisan conversation: in the Summer of 2015 we had our first Livingroom Conversation to help renewables and nuclear proponents find common ground. It was fun, and we learned we have a lot more to learn to get good at challenging conversations.

More Livingroom conversations to come! Join our meetup group if you would like to take part in the next one.

Jobs or Income?

The race to zero carbon isn’t just about carbon. To win, a state has to achieve a net zero carbon economy, with the best quality of life.

For most people, “Quality of life” is related to economic security. And economic security comes from an income, which traditionally comes from having a job, inheritance or investment. While inheritance and investment income may be on the rise, jobs are fading.

In this election, there was talk of job creation by zero sum means, such as “cracking down on immigrants to preserve jobs for American workers.”

This doesn’t bode well for the quality of life of said immigrants. But more than that, this job-centric way of looking at the economy is a barrier to the efficient, effective advancement of everyone’s quality of life.

It’s a problem of success. We now have a preposterously productive economy. It produces more nifty, high quality stuff with fewer jobs every year. That’s great news. Except we’ve tied up our identities in our jobs and find the situation paradoxically threatening.

Productivity means machines and innovative processes are eating our jobs. It’s time to wake up and smell the automation. To explore an “automation dividend.” To #TaxtheRobots. Instead, politicians rally voters with talk of getting rid of immigrants and refugees who are competing for your jobs, subsidizing “job creators”,  pitting jobs against the environment. Jobs have become an end in themselves. Jobs are the product, the prize.

We’re at a point in history where we can finally change our relationship to jobs, but most people aren’t talking about this. Instead, we find ourselves working for work’s sake #W4W (Thanks Tim Ferriss!

Note that a “job” is different from “work.” A lot of “work” in this world has great value, but is unpaid. And while many jobs are vital to a smooth and enjoyable civilization, many others come to exist out of skewed incentives.

Jobs are created and destroyed. There will always be necessary jobs for people to do. But the ratio of jobs to people is decreasing.

And that’s OK.

We just need to figure out how to leverage that to everyone’s advantage.

Right now, we pit people against each other in an ugly fight for dwindling jobs.  There are so many other things we could be doing. In the race to zero carbon, these plays are grouped under the “jobs and consumption conundrum”. This is one of the most important areas of focus to both reduce carbon and increase quality of life.

Thank you for reading this far!

That’s it for our election round up! What should we add? We’ll be updating this article and articles it links to in the coming days weeks. Things shift.

We would love your feedback and advice. Please comment below. And thank you in advance for sharing this post!

Rise of the Clean Energy Republican

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