Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Climate Strategy Framework

Climate Strategy Framework
Revised October 26, 2016
By Richard Turnock

The Climate Strategy Framework emerges from a three dimensional framework of Core Ideas, Practices and System Concepts as defined in the Next Generation Science Standards.  Climate Practices guide investigations and the design thinking for problems and solutions to support implementation over time of the Core Ideas.  The Climate Practices depend on science and engineering skills, capabilities and experience.  The System Concepts bridge the gaps between the Core Ideas and inform the Climate Practices.

Core Ideas

The Core Ideas are the first dimension to the Climate Strategy Framework.  They are meant to be applied by individuals, neighbors, groups, cities, counties, states and at the federal level. Anyone, anywhere, at any time can implement these ideas.  These are actionable ideas.

First, to survive, we must adapt, mitigate risks and communicate.  We must recognize and prepare for Worse-Before-Better.  We must then work to adapt and mitigate risks faster than the crisis happens. We must deal with insecure sources of water, food and shelter, the migration of refugees and the violence of collapsing governments.   

In America, refugees will migrate to avoid the lack of drinking water, high food prices and inadequate protection from high temperatures.  Refugees will migrate north and west. Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska plus southern Canada will experience an influx of migrants.  Refugees will migrate north from Mexico and through Mexico from the south. Those with vehicles, money and privilege will be invisible.  The visible refugees will be low income and poor, without private transportation and lacking jobs when they arrive. America needs to look at Europe to avoid the same mistakes in responding to the refugee crisis. 

Second, we must work to stop CO2 emissions and rebuild our energy and transportation infrastructure to replace the use of fossil fuels.  Performance depends on multiple capabilities.  To survive, investments in renewable energy must rise above basic replacement on a global scale.

Third, we must learn faster how to adapt, mitigate risks, communicate and invest in renewable energy faster than the consequences of climate change erode our capabilities and sap morale.  The target needs to start with reduced CO2 emissions, then jump to net zero emissions and finally sequestering CO2 to reduce the concentration in the atmosphere.

The feedback loops in the atmosphere have a time period of decades.  Any decrease in CO2 emissions will not slow down the rising average temperature until at least ten years after they happen. Quarterly income statements are not going to tell the story of climate change. 

From 2015-2025, a critical capability is that we must improve the diversity of capabilities to do all of the above. We will not survive just by stopping CO2 emissions and investing in renewables.  We must also invest in carbon sinks to take CO2 out of the atmosphere.

The increase in automation across all market sectors will free up people to respond to the consequences of climate change (“Rise of the Robots” by Martin Ford). On a global scale, cities will need to increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. This requires advanced planning for adaptation ( ).

List of Core Ideas

  1. Adapt
  2. Mitigate Risks
  3. Communicate
  4. Invest in Renewable Energy
  5. Stop CO2 emissions
  6. Remove CO2 from the atmosphere

Climate Practices

These Climate Practices are a second dimension to the Climate Strategy Framework. The Practices guide investigations and design of problems and solutions to support implementation over time of the Core Ideas.  The Practices depend on science and engineering skills, capabilities and experience.  A key practice will be Design Thinking.

The difference between success and failure is asking questions to support specifying criteria and constraints for acceptable solutions; generating and evaluating multiple solutions; building and testing prototypes; and optimizing a solution.  The Design Thinking Process used by Stanford dSchool ( ) is an example.  Also, here is an example of science and engineering practices paraphrased from the Next Generation Science Standards:

1. Ask questions and define problems
2. Develop and use models
3. Plan and carry out investigations
4. Analyze and interpret data
5. Use mathematics and computational thinking
6. Construct explanations and designing solutions
7. Engage in argument from evidence
8. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information

System Concepts

These System Concepts bridge the gaps between the Core Ideas and inform the Practices. System Concepts reveal the consequences of whole systems, while each of the Core Ideas are a way to divide a large issue like Climate Change into smaller problems. These concepts apply to all the Core Ideas and Practices. 

Systems Thinking is a way of describing the qualitative process of applying System Concepts to Climate Change.  System Dynamics implements a quantitative process.

Systems Thinkers see problems entirely differently. They see immense reinforcing feedback loops causing swarms of agents to exploit the Earth for their own benefit and population growth. This mode becomes unsustainable when balancing feedback loops finally start to push back as we approach environmental limits. 

Systems Thinkers do not see people’s misbehavior as the core problem. Instead, they see the structure of the system causing that misbehavior. To solve the problem, the system structure has to be understood and changed, so that feedback loops can be redesigned to cause people to behave more sustainably as a natural part of their everyday existence. (Dr. Michael von Kutzschenbach,

These System Concepts were paraphrased from the Next Generation Science Standards:

  1. Patterns
  2. Cause and Effect
  3. Systems and System Models
  4. Function and Structure of Systems
  5. Stability and Dynamics of Systems

Next Generation Science Standards