There Is No Planet B
Author: Berners-Lee, Mike
Notes by: Jacopo Perfetti.

Page 6 · 516
We need to rebalance our evolution.
1. Food
Page 11 · 618
About 5% of all human energy is still consumed in the most traditional way of all: through our mouths.
Page 11 · 626
At the global level, we grow 5940 kcals per person per day. That’s nearly two and a half times as much as the 2350 kcals per day that the average person needs to eat to be healthy.
Page 11 · 629
North America grows a massive eight times its calorific requirement. In Europe and Latin America, the food grown is ‘just’ four times what humans need to eat. But Sub - Saharan Africa grows only one and a half times the calories it needs.
Page 11 · 634
What happens to the food we grow? Some 1320 kcal are lost or wasted, 810 kcal go to biofuels and a massive 1740 kcal are fed to animals.
Page 15 · 663
Although there is significant net over - consumption at the global level, around 800 million people go undernourished (not enough calories) and a further two billion or so suffer some kind of ‘hidden hunger’ in the form of deficiency
Page 15 · 666
for everyone to have a healthy diet, four things need to happen. (1) Enough of every nutrient needs to be produced; (2) It needs to be transported to within physical reach of everyone; (3) Everyone needs to be able to afford it; and (4) People need to choose to eat a good diet from the affordable options that are available to them.
Page 15 · 680
Inequality is the main reason why anyone today does not have access to a healthy diet.
Page 16 · 682
when we come to look at wealth distribution we will find that the problem is to do with relative, not absolute, wealth.
Page 16 · 684
The current problems are about how the abundance of nutrition is shared around.
Page 16 · 700
Animals contribute 590 kcal to the human food chain as meat and dairy. BUT they eat 1740 kcal per person per day of human - edible food as well as 3810 kcal of grass and pasture.
Page 17 · 705
We can’t eat grass and pasture, but some of the land currently dedicated to its production could be used for crops and some of the rest could be very usefully set aside for biodiversity.
Page 17 · 712
How much do animals help with our protein supply? They don’t. The world’s farmed animals destroy nearly three quarters of the protein that they eat, most of which comes in the form of human - edible food.
Page 17 · 717
Firstly, we would have far more protein if we didn’t feed human - edible plant protein to animals
Page 17 · 718
Secondly, the world has an even greater surplus of protein than it has calories.
Page 18 · 729
Do we need animals for iron, zinc or vitamin A? No. Animals reduce the iron and zinc supply, whilst 100 grams of sweet potatoes gives you all the vitamin A you need for the day.
Page 20 · 755
How much of our antibiotics are given to animals? An estimated two thirds of all antibiotics14, 63,151 tonnes per year in fact15, are gobbled up by animals – and some of that even makes it back to us through meat and milk.
Page 21 · 767
The result is that animals are developing resistant strains and passing those bugs onto us.
Page 21 · 770
What can I do and what can be done?
Page 21 · 773
Don’t take antibiotics unless you need them, and when you do, follow the instructions.
Page 21 · 774
Cut down on meat and dairy that comes from farms that routinely use antibiotics for prevention
Page 21 · 777
Have good hygiene and keep vaccinations up to date to prevent infection in the first place.
Page 21 · 782
How much deforestation do soya beans cause? Don’t blame the soya bean ! The problem comes when they are eaten by cows and sheep.
Page 22 · 793
What’s the carbon footprint of agriculture? At 23% of the global total, food and land related emissions are far too important to ignore18.
Page 23 · 806
About two thirds of all nitrous oxide is also attributable to food.
Page 23 · 811
What are the carbon footprints of different foods?
Page 24 · 815
Beef and lamb have the highest impact because they ruminate (burp up methane).
Page 24 · 816
Beef also often has considerable deforestation associated with it, when land is cleared for feed production and grazing.
Page 24 · 819
the land use change resulting from animal feed for most meat and dairy. Note also how dramatically lower impact all the plant - based protein sources are.
Page 26 · 847
Should I go veggie or vegan? Great idea ! Lower consumption of meat and dairy is essential for the food supply, climate change and biodiversity. But, none of us needs to go quite all the way unless we want to.
Page 26 · 852
there is an undeniable need for a reduction to perhaps half today’s global average meat and dairy consumption.
Page 27 · 865
the top priority is to cut down on the ruminant animals: cows and sheep.
Page 27 · 872
We see a hierarchy of carbon footprints with pulses, grains and soya beans as the clear low carbon winners, dairy and poultry products as runners up, and red meats in worst place.
Page 27 · 875
What can shops do about meat and dairy habits? Make alternatives to meat and dairy delicious and tempting.
Page 27 · 894
What can farmers and governments do? There are many factors to take into account. Alongside nutritional output, biodiversity and climate change
Page 27 · 910
Over 1% of the world’s total GHG footprint could be saved by simple improvements to the way rice is usually grown.
Page 30 · 912
what is needed is more judicious use of fertiliser and not flooding paddy fields22
Page 30 · 914
Paddy field methane is about 6% of all greenhouse gas emissions from the food supply chain.
Page 30 · 932
Is local food best? Only sometimes. Transport is usually a small component of the carbon footprint of foods.
Page 31 · 937
The big greenhouse gas deal is in the farming
Page 31 · 939
Food transport only really becomes a big problem when things get put on an aeroplane.
Page 31 · 942
By contrast, putting food on a boat, even from the other side of the world, can enable a relatively sustainable food supply.
Page 31 · 946
Local tomatoes grown in an energy - intensive hot house in winter could be many times less sustainable than the shipped alternative from a sunnier part of the world.
Page 31 · 948
There is no place for air freighted food in the twenty - first century.
Page 32 · 954
If something is locally grown but out of season it will have to have been hot - housed, which can be just as bad as flying.
Page 32 · 964
Where does fish fit in? The world catches or farms 80 million tonnes of fish per year. That is about 12 kg per person per year or 30 grams per person per day. This could just about be sustainable, with care.
Page 32 · 970
Roughly half of all production is industrialised trawling and farming, while the other half is small - scale hand fishing.
Page 33 · 983
Is farming the solution? Sadly, farmed fish are just farmed animals that swim, and the moment you get into this you incur all the problems that are associated with most of the world’s animal farming
Page 33 · 985
farmed fish are often plied with antibiotics and polluting chemicals; the overcrowding can be similar to that found in factory farms.
Page 34 · 1008
How can we sustain our fish?
Page 34 · 1011
Treat fish as a treat.
Page 34 · 1015
Find a fish monger who can talk to you convincingly about where their fish comes from
Page 35 · 1026
Be open to different species, including obscure, unfamous varieties that you may never have heard of. These will probably also make your diet more interesting.
Page 35 · 1029
Don’t let price or marketing count as evidence of quality, because it probably isn’t
Page 35 · 1031
Take note of sustainability labels but treat them with caution. For example, ‘Dolphin Friendly’ is a red herring on any tuna
Page 35 · 1033
Sadly, there are no effective labels to let you know how much slavery you will be supporting.
Page 36 · 1063
What food is wasted, where and how? Out of 1320 kcal wasted per person per day, 48% is cereals. That’s enough calories to feed everyone in China and America. Nearly two thirds of all losses occur in harvest or just afterwards, in storage.
Page 38 · 1077
Consumers account for 20% of all food waste, of which three quarters comes from the one quarter of the world’s population living in Europe and the Americas. Even more seriously, but less visibly, 34% of all wasted calories occur at the harvesting stage and 30% during storage. Over half of all waste takes place in Asia, where the biggest losses are in storage (21% of all the world’s waste), harvesting (17%) and distribution (7%).
Page 39 · 1089
In terms of which foods get wasted, cereals account for 48% of all calories lost, while meat, fish and dairy together account for just 9%.
Page 39 · 1091
How can we cut the world’s waste? Cutting waste by half would add 20% to the world food supply.
Page 42 · 1136
When food can’t be sold or eaten, what should be done with it? Feed all human food to humans whenever you can. Avoid landfill. Be careful with garden compost. Don’t get too excited about any other options.
Page 43 · 1154
All solutions are rubbish, except for donating it for human consumption.
Page 43 · 1165
How much food goes to biofuel? The answer is 810 kcal per person per day. That’s the same as a 10 ” margarita pizza every day for everyone in the world35. It creates enough fuel for everyone to drive just half a mile in a traditional, oil - burning car.
Page 43 · 1177
How many farmers does the world need? More than the 1.3 billion that we have now. The good news is that the world has no shortage of people.
Page 45 · 1190
How can new technologies help feed the world? As we’ve seen, with enough societal change and waste cutting, and without adverse effects from climate change, no new technology would be needed. But if sensitively applied, it can make life considerably easier. In other words, unless climate change severely reduces land productivity, it is not true to say that we need new technologies in order to get by but it is also not true to say that technology alone will solve the problem.
Page 45 · 1202
key helpful technologies include:
Page 45 · 1204
Indoor plant farming:
Page 46 · 1208
Lab meat:
Page 46 · 1210
Water technologies: Ways of growing more with less,
Page 46 · 1213
The development of rice strands that are capable of a more efficient type of photosynthesis,
Page 46 · 1216
Genetic modification: Carefully applied and freely available, this could help with higher yields, better nutritional content and lower greenhouse gas emissions, less water consumption and better climatic resistance.
Page 46 · 1218
Waste reduction apps
Page 46 · 1221
Even simpler than new high - tech solutions is the propagation of well - established best practice
Page 46 · 1224
How can we produce enough food for 9.7 billion of us in 2050? As we have seen, the priorities are (1) to reduce human - edible food being fed to animals, (2) to cut waste, (3) to keep biofuels in check and (4) the sensitive application of new technologies.
Page 47 · 1240
Why do we all need to know our food supply chains?
Page 47 · 1244
Getting to know your supply chains means understanding the implications for both people and planet.
Page 47 · 1255
What investments are needed into food land and sea? We need investment in schemes that keep our forests and grow food sustainably. And we need research into the agricultural practices that can put carbon back into the ground, and more generally on the soil and biodiversity implications of different agricultural practices.
Page 49 · 1261
The single most important change will be an amazingly simple dietary shift towards less meat and dairy consumption, with a particular focus on reducing beef. This will markedly reduce greenhouse gases, improve the nutritional output of our land and, by relieving land pressure, ought to be pivotal in stemming deforestation.
Page 49 · 1265
there are two critical areas for which investment is required. The first is research. We don’t yet know nearly enough about the impact of different arable practices on the environment and, in particular, what farming systems store or release carbon and in what quantities.
Page 49 · 1270
The second critical investment area is farmers.
Page 50 · 1279
Food action summary: What can I do and what can be done?
Page 50 · 1280
here are the five things that will help most:
Page 50 · 1281
Change in the dietary trend from more meat and dairy to less;
Page 50 · 1282
Limits to first and second generation biofuel
Page 50 · 1284
Improved targeting and efficiency of fertiliser, pesticide and water;
Page 50 · 1285
Elimination of phosphates from detergents;
Page 50 · 1286
Greater establishment of protected areas in land, sea and freshwater40.
Page 50 · 1288
At the personal level, here are the simple things that anyone can do:
Page 50 · 1289
Buy and eat food in ways that enable a biodiverse agricultural system.
Page 50 · 1292
Get to know your supply chains and buy food from the ones you like.
2. More on Climate and Environment
Page 51 · 1304
What are the fourteen things that every politician needs to know about climate change?
Page 51 · 1309
(1) Current science tells us that a global temperature rise of 2° C looks very risky but 1.5° C much less so.
Page 51 · 1312
(2) The temperature rise we experience will be roughly proportional to the total amount of carbon we have ever burned.
Page 51 · 1315
(3) Emissions of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, have grown exponentially for 160 years.
Page 52 · 1319
(4) We have not yet dented that carbon curve.
Page 52 · 1323
(5) At the current rate of carbon emissions the remaining viable carbon budget for both 1.5 and 2° C is dwindling quickly – despite some recent good news from the carbon modellers.
Page 52 · 1327
(6) It takes a long time to put the brakes on. The temperature won’t stop rising until net emissions are zero.
Page 52 · 1329
(7) Almost all the fuel that gets dug up gets burned – so it has to stay in the ground.
Page 52 · 1330
(8) Because of rebound effects, which are often ignored, glossed over or not fully understood, some of the key actions that many people assume will help us haven’t helped at all – and on their own, they never will.
Page 52 · 1334
(9) Growing renewables, whilst essential, won’t be enough to deal with climate change.
Page 52 · 1336
(10) So, we urgently need a working global agreement to leave the fuel in the ground.
Page 53 · 1340
(11) We need to manage other greenhouse gases too
Page 53 · 1342
(12) Extracting and burning fossil fuel has to become too expensive, illegal or both
Page 53 · 1344
(13) Such a deal will need to work for everyone.
Page 53 · 1347
(14) We will also need to take carbon back out of the atmosphere – even though it is unclear whether we yet properly know how to.
Page 53 · 1356
What are the biodiversity stats? And why do they matter?
Page 53 · 1358
The current mix of deforestation, ploughing up land for monocultures, over - grazing, over - fishing and the belching out of innumerable toxins, plastics and other pollutants has got to change.
Page 53 · 1361
Nobody knows how many different species there are nor how fast we are wiping them out,
Page 53 · 1361
but we do have estimates. There are probably between 5 and 10 million different species
Page 54 · 1364
We know that the biggest land - based animals were gone by about 10,000 years ago and it looks as if we are currently losing the remaining species at somewhere between 0.01% and 0.1% per year2
Page 54 · 1382
What is Ocean Acidification and why does it matter? Caused by CO2 and potentially just as nasty as climate change.
Page 55 · 1387
The basic story is that CO2 from burning fossil fuel finds its way into the ocean and the resulting acidification reduces the ability of sea life to produce shells and skeletons8.
Page 55 · 1392
Our loss of sea food would be just one of the enormous consequences.
Page 55 · 1398
What’s to be done and what can I do? Just the same as for climate change, at the individual level, the action is to cut our carbon footprint and do everything else in our power to create the cultural and political conditions under which the world can leave the fuel in the ground. Policy actions are also the same as for the CO2 part of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions,
Page 55 · 1405
How much plastic is there in the world? An estimated 9 billion tonnes has been produced so far10. Of this, 5.4 billion tonnes has been chucked into landfill or scattered onto land and sea. If all of it were cling film it would be more than enough to wrap the whole planet11
Page 56 · 1412
If all the world’s discarded plastic were cling film, it would be more than enough to wrap the whole planet.
Page 56 · 1413
Of all the plastic ever made less than a third is still in use, less than a tenth has been burned, and only 7% has been recycled. Some 60% hangs around as rubbish.
Page 56 · 1416
An estimated 4 to 12 million tonnes per year ends up in the sea12
Page 57 · 1427
Over one third of plastic produced in 2015 was used for packaging.
Page 57 · 1429
recycling rates have gone from an all - time average of just 9% to nearly 20% today.
Page 57 · 1433
Is fossil fuel better burned or turned into plastic? Hobson’s choice ! Ideally it would have stayed in the ground. Landfill, for all its other problems, at least puts it back there.
3. Energy
Page 59 · 1459
How much do we use? Humans use about one seven - thousandth of the energy that hits the Earth’s land area. The average person uses 59 kWh per day1. That is equivalent to about 6 litres of petrol, or enough to drive a fairly efficient petrol car for about 70 miles.
Page 60 · 1470
The average European uses almost twice as much per year as the global average,
Page 60 · 1470
the average American uses nearly four times as much, whilst the average
Page 60 · 1474
How has our use changed over time? It has always been going up. And the rate of growth has risen too. We use more than three times as much energy today as we did 50 years ago.
Page 62 · 1498
What do we use it for? Around 5% is food used to power human bodies, and 38% is spent on transporting people and stuff on journeys of every scale. The rest is fairly evenly split between domestic and business use.
Page 62 · 1509
Where do we get it all from? 83% comes from fossil fuels. Nuclear energy provides less than 2%. Renewable energy sources make up nearly 4%, of which two thirds is hydroelectric. 4
Page 64 · 1538
How bad are fossil fuels? We owe a huge debt of gratitude to coal, oil and gas, but now we urgently need to stop taking it out of the ground.
Page 65 · 1545
emissions from the burning of fossil fuels is the biggest cause of human induced climate change, and that this is on track to be very dangerous indeed for humans sometime this century –
Page 66 · 1564
How much energy comes from the sun? At any given time, there is a massive 16,300 kW of solar energy arriving on the Earth’s surface for every person in the world6. That’s enough for each of us to bring an Olympic swimming pool to the boil every day7.
Page 66 · 1569
Most of this energy lands on the sea, where it is largely out of the reach of humans. Under a third strikes the Earth’s land area.
Page 66 · 1575
Can the sun’s energy be harnessed? Solar panels covering less than 0.1% of the total land surface (an area of 228 miles by 228 miles) could meet today’s energy needs9
Page 66 · 1579
The growth rate in solar power has averaged a massive 50% per year over that past decade10
Page 67 · 1593
it becomes a lot harder to maintain the growth rate. Already it is starting to fall to around 30% per year.
Page 67 · 1600
How much solar power could we ever have? If 2.4% energy growth continues, in 300 years we will need solar panels to cover every inch of land mass. This would leave no spare land for plants or animals: no sunbathing and lab food only.
Page 68 · 1609
Everything depends on whether, for the first time in history, we can succeed in deliberately limiting our energy growth.
Page 69 · 1623
Which countries have the most sunlight? The top five are Australia, Russia, China, Brazil and the USA, and between them they hoover up 36% of all the sun that hits the world’s land area.
Page 70 · 1650
Which countries have the least sun per person? The biggest losers in the sunlight per person stakes are Bangladesh, Netherlands, South Korea, Belgium, the UK, Rwanda and Japan.
Page 71 · 1672
What about when the sun isn’t shining? There are four basic solutions: (1) Store energy from when the sun was shining (2) Supply energy from other sources (3) Make the demand match the sunlight (4) Transmit power around the world, because the sun is always shining somewhere.
Page 73 · 1711
How useful is wind energy? Of the sun’s energy that lands on our planet, around 2% is converted into wind energy17
Page 73 · 1714
And most of that wind is completely inaccessible, high up in the jet stream.
Page 73 · 1717
A wind farm larger than 10 km square can generate only around 1 W per square metre of land.
Page 74 · 1739
Why is sun better than rain? Even if every rain drop was pushed through a turbine, capturing all the potential energy released on its journey from where it landed to the sea, hydroelectric power would only just meet today’s energy needs.
Page 74 · 1755
hydro is already approaching its maximum. We might see a modest rise but not a big leap forward.
Page 74 · 1757
Is nuclear nasty? Yes. But the old arguments from the Cold War days need re - examining in the light of climate change risks and safety improvements. Trusted, impartial analysis is scarce but essential to understand whether there is a role for nuclear in our medium term energy mix.
Page 76 · 1761
our energy system needs intensive care like never before and the nuclear industry claims to have got a lot safer.
Page 77 · 1785
Would fusion solve everything? The answer depends on whether you would trust our species with unlimited energy.
Page 77 · 1795
Are biofuels bonkers? The wheat required to power a Toyota Corolla on bioethanol for 1.1 miles could feed a person for a day.
Page 79 · 1823
Should we frack? Definitely not before we have a trustworthy analysis of the pros and cons and extremely good regulation. Only then might it possibly, in theory, be marginally worth doing. But almost certainly not.
Page 79 · 1827
Natural gas generates more heat for less greenhouse gas emissions than coal or oil.
Page 79 · 1828
The idea is that we use it to wean ourselves off coal and oil while the renewables get up to speed.
Page 79 · 1830
methane, which, over a 100 year period is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide that we are trying to avoid.
Page 79 · 1832
Serious leakage could make fracked gas far worse than coal.
Page 80 · 1837
It takes a lot of energy to run the fracking process
Page 80 · 1843
Fracking involves the use of chemicals that we would not want to have contaminating our water supplies.
Page 82 · 1886
the Jevons Paradox
Page 83 · 1887
Over the years we have become many times more efficient in our production of just about everything.
Page 83 · 1890
Yet our energy usage has risen hand in hand with those efficiencies and is actually enabled by them.
Page 83 · 1891
In fact, we can see that we don’t use more energy despite the efficiency gains, but rather we are able to use more energy because of the efficiency gains.
Page 83 · 1893
It means that whilst efficiency gains help us get more benefit from any given amount of energy, they also end up leading to an increase in total consumption unless that is deliberately constrained.
Page 83 · 1903
We badly need more efficiency, but we also need to learn not to squander it with increased consumption.
Page 83 · 1907
The way to make it work is to have a constraint on total use of resources, and in particular fossil fuels.
Page 83 · 1911
to actually want less of some of the things that are most damaging to the world.
Page 85 · 1931
Why is cleaning our electricity just the easy part of the transition from fossil fuels? Electricity from renewables can replace two and a half times the same energy in coal or oil going into a power station. Replacing heat sources is harder.
Page 85 · 1934
transferring from one type to another almost always incurs losses. In particular, to get electricity from oil or coal entails putting it through steam turbines at a power station where over 60% of the energy dissipates
Page 85 · 1937
Solar, wind and hydro power don’t have this problem because they are in the form of electricity from the start.
Page 91 · 2035
Will we need to take carbon back out of the air? This is a must, given the speed of action required, the current gap between clean supply and total energy demand and the dopiness of the human response so far.
Page 92 · 2069
How much energy are we on track to use in 2100? A continuation of 2.4% growth per year would mean we will be using seven times as much in 2100 as we are today.
Page 92 · 2077
our species matures. We come to understand that ‘growth’ is no longer about getting more in terms of physical power. We learn to be more careful, to get our kicks without smashing the place up and perhaps even to be a gentler species.
Page 95 · 2120
Energy solution summary
Page 95 · 2121
We need to both leave the fossil fuel in the ground and grow our clean energy supply to replace it. The latter will not cause the former.
Page 95 · 2123
The world needs a deal to leave the fuel in the ground.
Page 95 · 2125
Efficiency improvements are very important but on their own they do not generally bring about reductions is energy requirement.
Page 95 · 2126
In fact the opposite effect is more usual; efficiency gains tend to be accompanied by an even greater increase in output, so that the total energy demand goes up not down.
Page 96 · 2128
There are no show - stopping technical barriers to the clean energy revolution.
Page 96 · 2129
Solar is the world’s best renewable opportunity by far,
Page 96 · 2133
Wind and hydro are useful but limited.
Page 96 · 2134
Nuclear is risky, permanently polluting, expensive and very hard to roll out
Page 96 · 2137
Biofuels on any scale require extreme caution as they threaten both food supply and biodiversity.
Page 96 · 2143
The more we can limit our energy demand, the easier the transition to clean supplies will be.
Page 96 · 2146
Energy: What can I do?
Page 96 · 2150
Vote for politicians who both get the issues and prioritise them.
Page 96 · 2152
spend your money in support of energy efficient supply chains, low carbon technologies and infrastructure
Page 96 · 2155
Get better at enjoying things that don’t require much energy.
Page 96 · 2157
Decrease energy consumption in all the ways that you already know about
4. Travel and Transport
Page 99 · 2180
How much do we travel today? The average person travels 3921 miles per year: 57% of these are by road, 23% on foot, 7% by rail and 13% by plane.
Page 99 · 2187
Cycling, by the way, which we often think of as an important mode, turns out to be much less significant to human mobility than cars, planes, trains or feet.
Page 101 · 2217
How many travel miles can we get from a square meter of land? A square metre of PV panels in California could power an electric car for 1081 miles per year or an electric bike for a massive 21,000 miles.
Page 101 · 2219
Alternatively, we could eat the wheat grown on our square metre and use it to walk 13 miles per year or cycle for 25 miles.
Page 103 · 2266
How can we sort out urban transport? The ideal city is compact and easy to get around. The buildings are tall and generally close together, except for the recreational green spaces.
Page 103 · 2285
Will shared transport make life better or worse? Worse if you are committed to always driving your own vehicle and keeping it full of your own personal junk. Much better if you want to be able to travel in the most appropriate vehicle more of the time, without incurring the overhead, and are open to making social
Page 103 · 2296
The global car share market is still languishing around the $ 1 billion mark, making it a pin - prick on the whole car scene.
Page 106 · 2306
Should I buy an electric car? First ask whether you still need to have a car of your own at all. If you don’t, don’t buy a new one until you need to. Then make it electric if you can and as economical as you can. Make it last.
Page 106 · 2314
However, the overall gains are marginal and apply only if you buy the most efficient car you can.
Page 106 · 2322
How urgently should I ditch my diesel? Urgently if you do a lot of urban miles.
Page 106 · 2326
In the UK 40,0007 people a year die prematurely from air pollution, and vehicles cause 8,900 of those deaths. That is five times more than the 1,775 who died in road traffic accidents.
Page 106 · 2329
The two main killer pollutants are small particles and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Diesels belch out far more of both of these than either petrol or electric cars.
Page 106 · 2338
People often think trees will help filter them out but sadly it is the reverse. Although leaves are surfaces for the particles to land on, a much more important effect is that on a busy high street trees form a wind barrier that holds the particles down at street level.
Page 109 · 2372
Could autonomous cars be a disaster? Or brilliant? It all depends on how much we use them.
Page 110 · 2381
whether the quality of life will be made better or worse by this innovation. Just because we invented it, it doesn’t mean we are forced to adopt it,
Page 110 · 2389
How can we fly in the low carbon world? An A380 carrying 550 passengers from New York to Hong Kong burns through 192 tonnes of fuel. That is about 36% of the weight on take - off. Without using fossil fuel, the challenge is to carry enough energy on board.
Page 110 · 2393
solutions look possible. The most obvious one is use biofuel.
Page 111 · 2397
the wheat required for meeting today’s aviation needs equates to about 2100 kcal per person per day for everyone
Page 111 · 2413
Electric flights are not so barmy after all.
Page 112 · 2413
A third option,
Page 112 · 2414
is the idea of using solar electricity to create aviation fuel from CO2 in the air.
Page 112 · 2427
Should I fly? Whether for business, love, fun or gap year it all depends …
Page 112 · 2429
For perspective, London to Hong Kong and back economy class is about a quarter of the average UK person’s annual carbon footprint16
Page 113 · 2440
if you do fly (and I sometimes do), at least treat it as a very special occasion and extravagance. Fly economy (to take up less of the plane) and make the most of your trip.
Page 113 · 2445
Do virtual meetings save energy and carbon? At the moment, no. They are slightly more likely to trigger a flight than to save one. They make a low carbon world more possible, but they do not, in themselves, help to bring it about.
Page 114 · 2460
How bad are boats? And can they be electrified? Sea freight is over 30 times more energy efficient than air freight – but you need to be a lot more patient.
Page 115 · 2489
this could be the eco - friendly option, but sadly, much of the inherent efficiency of boats compared to aeroplanes is thrown overboard because people don’t like to lie obligingly side by side for the journey, like apples and bananas do. The difference becomes extreme on a luxury cruise when
Page 116 · 2500
E - bikes or pedals? Both – thank goodness. If I had to write that the most sustainable way to get around could be by electric bike
Page 116 · 2516
When might we emigrate to another planet? Humanity’s entire energy supply would be only enough to send just one small manned spacecraft per year on an intergalactic journey.
Page 118 · 2538
interstellar travel is not an alternative to ‘one planet living’.
Page 118 · 2546
Whatever we make it into, Earth will be our only home for a very long time to come. There is no Planet B.
5. Growth, Money and Metrics
Page 119 · 2569
Which kinds of growth can be healthy in the Anthropocene? Children get physically bigger as they grow up. Adults, if they want to keep growing healthily, have to find non - physical forms of growth. Humanity needs to undergo a similar transition.
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Here is my assessment of some of the various types of growth.
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GHG emissions: Harmful since they bring about climate change.
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Meat consumption: We’ve already seen the risk this poses, to humans and many other plant and animal species.
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Energy use: Not inevitably harmful but very dangerous since it is linked to human capacity to trash the planet, including but not restricted to climate change.
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Consumption: Harmful. By this I mean consumption of just about everything physical.
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GDP: Irrelevant at best. To date this has been linked to both carbon and energy growth and those who think the link is inevitable logically draw the conclusion that GDP growth must halt too.
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Population: A bit more growth can be tolerated provided we distribute it properly.
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Flights: Harmful for the foreseeable future.
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Technology: Good if, and only if, we become more selective in what we develop and how we use it.
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Life expectancy: Good – provided of course we are talking about quality life years.
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Wellbeing: An infinitely superior goal than GDP growth.
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Awareness: Crucially important.
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To sum up, we need a radical overhaul of human growth aspirations.
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Why is GDP such an inadequate metric? GDP goes up if things we used to give and receive for free become chargeable. A country’s GDP might well go up if the level of spontaneous kindness were to go down.
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Metrics are ways of simplifying our world view, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. All metrics are harmful if you give them too much power.
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GDP is no different. It is not a measure of human progress. Its simplicity makes it a tempting crutch for any politician who is feeling freaked out by the complexities of running a country
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What metrics do we need to take more note of? Human and planetary health statistics, from carbon emissions to life expectancy and everything else along the way; biodiversity, pollution, human health, nutrition intakes and availabilities, and so on.
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What metrics do we need to downgrade? GDP and the length of comfort breaks for a start.
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Can the free market deal with Anthropocene challenges? Often not. It can’t solve problems in which individual interests don’t align with collective interests. So global challenges require some global governance.
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The free market is provably incapable of dealing with global issues that require global governance.
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What is trickledown and why is it dangerous? Trickledown is the idea that when the rich get richer, some of this seeps down to the poor and everyone gains. But it is flawed because relative wealth determines what you can buy in a free market.
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The reason that some people go hungry is they don’t have a high enough proportion of the world’s wealth to buy what they need in a global market economy.
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Why might wealth distribution matter more than ever? Because people and countries that feel disgruntled won’t want to participate in the global agreements that are required to solve the twenty - first century’s biggest challenges.
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How is the world’s wealth distributed? America has 138 times more wealth per person than Africa. About half the world’s wealth rests with 1% of the population, whilst the poorest 70% own just 2.7% 9.
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Why are most Americans so much poorer than most Italians? In the USA, so much of the wealth lies with so few that there is relatively little left over to go around the bulk of the population.
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as well as wealth gaps between countries and regions, there are also big differences in the way that money is shared out within countries.
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The median Italian is about twice as well off as the median American, despite Italy having only just over half of the wealth per person.
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The problem is that, in the USA, so much of the wealth is concentrated in the pockets of so few.
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How has wealth distribution been changing? Inequality has risen in most places in the twenty - first century. There are exceptions in Northern Europe. Equality has plummeted in China, the USA, UK and many European countries.
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When is wealth distributed like the energy in a gas? (And when is it not?) Most of the time wealth distributes itself between people in the same way that the kinetic energy is distributed between atoms in a gas. But something different goes on for the very rich.
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In a Maxwell – Boltzmann distribution, whilst not all atoms have the same energy, you very rarely get one with more than ten times the average energy,
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If human financial interactions followed the same rules, we would have Maxwell – Boltzmann income and wealth distributions, just like the atoms in a gas. There would still be some people richer than others, but far less of the total wealth would be held by the richest few.
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This level of income inequality feels about right to me.
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something goes wrong at the top end of the scale. When it comes to the very rich, something changes. Wealth starts to beget wealth.
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the rich suddenly develop a tendency not to move back to the middle ground but to extend their lead, while the poor are pushed further down.
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What should we invest in? Every financial decision is an investment in one kind of future or another.
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We desperately need investment in the following:
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renewable energy, especially solar,
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transition to electrified transport;
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low energy infrastructure
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population control through investment in the world’s poor.
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sustainable agricultural systems,
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carbon capture and storage;
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education to deliver twenty - first century thinking skills
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truthful media and democratic processes
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How can these essential investments be funded? Every divestment liberates an investment opportunity elsewhere. A carbon tax could also produce a massive fund.
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Global carbon dioxide emissions run at around 35 billion tonnes of CO2 per year. Imagine, as a thought experiment, a carbon tax of $ 300 per tonne (equivalent to about a dollar per litre of car fuel) applied to all emissions. The funds raised would be over $ 10 trillion per year.
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Why does the right tax make us better off? Tax can be used to reduce antisocial behaviours, to fund things that make life better but which markets can’t reach, and to control the wealth gradient.
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Tax is undoubtedly a massively important mechanism for reducing income inequality and countries use it to very different extents.
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Gini coefficient, which ranges from 0% (everyone having the same income) to 100% (one person has all the country’s income).
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Do we need a carbon price? Fossil fuel will continue to be extracted and burned unless it becomes too expensive, illegal or both. The options are an enforceable carbon price and / or regulation backed by fines. In a sense they are equivalent.
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The price needs to be enough that the fuel stops coming out of the ground in line with carbon targets. For perspective, a carbon price of $ 100 per tonne CO2 adds just 3 cents per mile to the cost of driving an oil - powered car and about 8 cents per kWh onto the price of coal - powered electricity.
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How should I spend my money? Before you pay for anything at all, try to understand the supply chain.
6. People and Work
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Does it all come down to population? One billion reckless people would easily trash the place, whilst 15 billion careful people could snuggle up together and be fine. But then, if everyone was careful there wouldn’t be 15 billion in the first place.
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Population pressure is not something that we can blame for all the environmental trouble that we are currently walking towards.
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What can I do to help with population?
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(1) Please be careful not to cause a baby to be born unless you really want to look after it.
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(2) Please don’t encourage, pressurise or force anyone else to do so.
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(3) Please try, wherever you have influence, to make it easy for others not to have babies unless they really want them.
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(4) Push for greater investment in the poorest people.
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When is a ‘job’ a good thing? When it is useful, fulfilling and appropriately paid.
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There are three reasons why a job can be a good thing.
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(1) It does something useful in society.
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(2) It is fulfilling to do.
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(3) It provides a mechanism through which resources, and especially money, are appropriately allocated.
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Try to bring your whole self to work, including the bit of you that cares most for people and planet. Express yourself. Encourage others to do likewise.
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Why would anyone work if they already had a citizen’s wage? Because people want to be useful, have purpose and make the most of their lives. Whether we think this will work probably depends on the confidence we have in each other.
7. Business and Technology
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When is it good that an organisation exists? When it does a useful job, is fulfilling to work for and enables appropriate distribution of wealth.
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They should exist to meet three purposes. First is the provision of useful and worthwhile goods and services
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Secondly, they should provide meaningful and fulfilling ways for the workers to spend their days.
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Thirdly, they need to contribute to the appropriate distribution of wealth
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Note that maximising shareholder revenue doesn’t feature in the criteria at all.
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How can businesses think about the world?
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they want to ‘leave the world better than we found it’,
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It requires a level of perspective that is rarely encouraged in the day - to - day commercial world.
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They need a systemic understanding of the full range of both their direct and their indirect impacts.
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In the twenty - first century it is totally unhelpful to have organisations that exist primarily in order to make profit.
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How can a business think systemically?
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systems thinking is not particularly hard; you just need to decide to do it.
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framework of ten principles for One Planet Living
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Their toolkit is free for companies,
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Three strands to an environmental strategy
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(1) Improving own impact. A company improves its own impacts on every environmental factor, in line with what the best science says needs to be happening
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(2) Enabling others to improve their impact. Its goods and services enable others to do life in ways that are better for the environment.
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(3) Pushing for global arrangements where needed. The company pushes for whatever global management needs to be put in place.
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What is a science - based target? A target to do what the science says needs to happen in order to look after the world. Obviously, all environmental targets should be science - based.
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Do we drive technology growth, or does it drive us? Right now we are slaves to a trajectory, but that doesn’t prove we have to be from now on.
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What if a technology were to lead to an efficiency improvement but actually got in the way of quality of life? Would it be possible not to have it? If I’m a sales rep and all my competitors have access to smart phones with emails 24 / 7, then I’m disadvantaged if my customers can’t contact me at the weekend like they can my competitors. We all have to adopt it. We may or may not love it but it wasn’t a choice.
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Whether or not the specific concern over AI is well founded, it is clear that technology as a whole has brought many good things over the millennia, but has now taken human - kind to a dangerous place and we need to handle it in a radically different way.
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How can we take control of technology? This is one of the defining challenges of our age. To do so, humanity will have to raise its game.
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The simple case history of chemical and biological weapons is enough to prove a principle that it is just about possible (most of the time) to hold back on a development,
8. Values, Truth and Trust
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What is the evidence base to choose some values over others?
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we need to be capable of care and, sometimes at least, restraint. We need to be able to tell when enough of something is enough, and when that happens, we need to find a way of not wanting to have more.
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One useful way of thinking about values is to categorize them into extrinsic or intrinsic values.
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Extrinsic values include money, power, status, image and material possessions.
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Intrinsic values include self - acceptance, awareness, connection to others, appreciation of and care for the world and everything in it, and the enjoyment of activities for their own sake. It is our values that motivate us.
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people and societies that are more governed by intrinsic values and motivations end up being happier and healthier and treating the planet kindlier
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What values do we need to be the new global cultural norms? Clearly, we need to focus more strongly on all intrinsic values.
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three in particular that seem more essential
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(1) All people are inherently equal in their humanity. With this comes the principle that all should be allowed, encouraged and enabled to live their lives in whatever way they find meaningful,
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(2) Respect and care for the world; its beauty, life - supporting complexity and all its life forms.
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(3) Respect for truth – for its own sake. The honouring of facts, as far as they can be discerned
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What makes our values change? Our values move with the messages we receive and the things we think about.
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Two things in particular push us towards extrinsic values: insecurities and materialistic social messages.
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The more the focus of a job is on pay and bonuses, the less the employee will be thinking about intrinsic reasons for doing a good and useful job.
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How to cultivate the values that we need
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Create mechanisms that reinforce intrinsic values.
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Reform prisons into humane environments
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Focus on metrics that emphasise intrinsic values, for example downgrading GDP and upgrading wellbeing measures
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Create a business environment in which shareholder profits do not need to dominate
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Emphasise the importance of public and community service
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Find ways to curtail materialistic advertising,
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Do not try to win an argument by appealing to unhelpful values.
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Spend time thinking about the values we need, talking about them and reading about them.
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Consume critically and mindfully.
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Have experiences that bring you into contact with a wide range of people.
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think in terms of facts, even though they are hard to discern but all we ever get is a partial view.
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Why is dedication to ‘truth’ more important than ever? Because the situation is more complex than ever.
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There has always been plenty of misinformation in the world, by both accident and design. But now the complexity of the issues requires us to raise our standards and increase our intolerance of nonsense to a standard we have never seen before.
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What can I do to promote a culture of truth? Actually, there is only one thing: Insist on truth everywhere. But more specifically, here are four simple suggestions.
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(1) Ask very carefully whether your sources of news are giving the best view of the truth that they are able to.
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(2) Consult several sources, not just one.
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(3) Make sure all electoral candidates know how important truthfulness is to you.
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(4) Raise the standards of honesty everywhere you go.
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(5) Hardest of all, tell the truth yourself.
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How can I work out who and what to trust?
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(1) Are they competent?
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(2) Have they had time, resources and access to information to be able to understand the issues?
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(3) What are their motivations?
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(4) Self - awareness. Do they take time to reflect on and understand their own emotional reactions, leanings and influences?
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(5) Do they have a track record of being able to change their mind when the evidence has changed?
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(6) Have they ever sought to mislead the public?
9. Conclusion: Thinking Skills for Today’s World
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What new ways of thinking do we need in the twenty - first century?
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Here are eight dimensions of thinking that we rapidly need to get better at.
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(1) Big picture perspective. Since the problems we face are now global, our thinking needs to be global.
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(2) Global empathy. A thousand years ago this skill might not have been needed at all. But now, our daily lives affect those of people on the other side of the world who we will never meet.
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We have to get our heads and hearts around the idea that we are in this together because that is the only way any of us can live well.
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(3) Future thinking. The argument for tuning into a more distant future is the same as the one that tells us we need better global empathy. Our circle of concern needs to be the same as our circle of influence because otherwise that influence will be irresponsible and we will trash the place.
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(4) Appreciation of the simple, small and local.
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(5) Self - reflection. Closely linked to Appreciation, this is the capacity to notice our own experience.
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(6) Critical thinking. The second of the truth skills, this is the capacity to make well - founded decisions about who and what to trust.
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(7) Complex and complicated thinking. Because we have created an ever more complicated AND complex world, our capacity for this kind of thinking simply has to rise in step with it.
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(8) Joined - up perspective.
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Even all of them together isn’t enough when they act in isolation. They have to intertwine, however hard that might seem. The technical wizards need to understand that science is only one angle on life – useful up to a point, but hopelessly reductionist and inadequate on its own.
Appendix: Climate Change Basics
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Point 1: A global temperature rise of 2° C looks very risky but 1.5° C much less so
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Point 2: As long as we don’t trigger a step change in the climate, temperature rise corresponds roughly with the total amount of carbon we have ever burned In other words it is the cumulative emissions that matter most.
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Point 3: Emissions of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, have grown exponentially for 160 years
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Point 4: We have not yet dented that carbon curve
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Point 5: At the current rate of carbon emissions the remaining viable carbon budget for both 1.5° C and 2° C is dwindling quickly – despite some recent good news from the carbon modellers
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Point 6: It takes a long time to put the brakes on
Page 205 · 4168
Even once we reached zero emissions, we would have to wait further,
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we might then stabalise temperatures quite quickly and even hope to nudge them down again,
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Point 7: All the fuel that gets dug up gets burned, so it has to stay in the ground instead
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Point 8: Many of the things we might assume will help haven’t The ‘balloon squeezing’ or, to give it its proper name, ‘rebound’ effect describes the unfortunate tendency of savings in one place, only to get counteracted by adjustments elsewhere in the system.
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The balloon squeezing effect: when emissions are squeezed in part of the world or part of the economy, the emissions from rest of the system expand to compensate. So if we want change, we need a way of squeezing everything at once.
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Point 9: Growing renewables, whilst essential, won’t be enough to deal with climate change
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Point 10: We urgently need a working global agreement to leave the fuel in the ground
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Point 11: We need to manage other gases too
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the other greenhouse gases are important enough that we won’t solve climate change unless we deal with them too.
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Point 12: Extracting and burning fossil fuel has to become too expensive, illegal or both
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Point 13: The global deal will need to work for everyone
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Point 14: We need to take carbon back out of the atmosphere