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Notes

The following notes amplify some of the points in the book, or give pointers to where you can find out more. Also in this 'Bonus Features' section of the website, there are a list of websites and books as suggestions for further reading, and some 'bonus pages' which you can print out. Some of the notes below refer to these bonus pages.

Clearly, the notes and bonus material will make more sense if you've already read the book!

Page 4: Look At It This Way

We first heard the supertanker / fish analogy in a talk prepared by David Wasdell for the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group of the UK House of Commons. This group compiled various presentations into a book Planet Earth, We Have a Problem.

Page 5: What's Up?

We make sense of the world by using such metaphors. The contrast between up and down is basic to our way of experiencing the world, and the basis of many metaphors, so it's as well to be aware of it. And playing around with these metaphors can help us think in new ways. For example, drawing an organisation tree upside down is very powerful idea. If you look at a picture like that, you might suddenly feel that managers are there to support the workers.

The book Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson has many more examples.

Page 15: Lost and Found

We even shift the blame onto the employee. We say that Fred 'lost' his job, as if he'd lost his wallet, rather than saying that he had the job taken away from him.

Page 21: Lost and Found

The obesity issue is discussed in the book The Energy Glut by Ian Roberts.

Producers' role in consumption was highlighted by Rupert Read on the 'Green Words Workshop' blog.

Page 26: Running Out, Filling Up

These diagrams embody the basic truth that the economy happens inside the ecosystem. Economists resist this idea: there is a famous story of Herman Daly's attempts (and failure) to get a diagram of this sort into a World Bank report.

The input side of human activities (finding resources) and the output side (finding places to put waste products), as represented by the two diagrams, have some things in common. For example, neither leads to insuperable problems as long as the scale of human activity remains small compared with the scale of the earth. There are local problems, but there's always somewhere else. Both issues only become acute when we run up against the planet being 'full'.

But there are also important differences between the two. On the resources side, there's a natural economic mechanism that might come to the rescue: as resources get rarer, their prices go up, driving more efficient use of them and a search for substitutes. But on the waste products side, things are different: there's no price mechanism here. As David Orrell puts it in the book Economyths, supply and demand doesn't work here, because pollution has a supply but no demand.

Page 30: Later Than You Think

The lily-pond tale is quoted in The Limits to Growth, the 1972 book by Donella Meadows and others, which did much to popularize the idea of a finite earth.

Page 37: RoboCorp

The title of the section plays on the film RoboCop of course. The bulldozer is a reference to the bulldozer in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. One of the characters in the book explains that the bank is a machine: it doesn't behave like a human being would.

Page 38: What the Papers Say

The situation the press find themselves in is described in Flat Earth News by Nick Davies.

Page 39: Flat-Earth Economics

You might feel we're being a little unfair to economists by singling them out like this. But economists do seem to be particularly arrogant in claiming to have the most important insights, and pronouncing on things outside their field. Do you imagine that a magazine called The Dentist would be calling for governments to do this and that like The Economist does?

And here is economics professor Bryan Caplan in his (interesting) book The Myth of the Rational Voter (page 21): 'The modal respondent in the National Election Studies ranks economic issues as "the most important problem" in most election years. In fact, if you classify "social welfare" issues like welfare, the environment, and health care as economic, then economic issues were "the most important problem" in every election year from 1972 to 2000.' Would you suggest classifying the environment as an economic issue?

Page 59: High Stakes

People have tried various ways to explain this sort of 'risk' argument.

For example: if you had to get on a plane with a fifty-fifty chance of it crashing, would you be happy to do so, because nobody could prove to you that it was certain to crash? No? Yet we're doing the equivalent of getting on that plane: we seem to be happy to sail past the 2-degree threshold where we have a fifty-fifty chance of triggering unstoppable, irreversible climate chaos.

Or: suppose your child has a disease and 10 doctors are discussing the case. Nine doctors say there's a problem and your child needs to take some medicine, but one says no, everything's fine, don't worry. Who do you believe? And if you're not sure, do you get your child to take the medicine just to be sure, or ignore it and hope for the best?

Page 61: A Greenhouse in your Bath

The bathtub metaphor is used by Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute, famous for 'Contraction and Convergence' (see the notes for page 84).

Page 66: Nero Tolerance

Nero, of course, was the emperor reputed to have played the fiddle while Rome burned.

Page 73: Guilty Atoms

The 'atoms' in the section title refer to the way society is often framed as an atomised collection of individuals. This frame excludes societal effects (notoriously, it even claims that 'there is no such thing as society'). It has been parodied by wondering why we didn't go round Germany asking the Germans, one by one, whether they might refrain from individually invading Poland.

Page 77: Upstream, Downstream

The garden hose analogy for upstream systems appears in the book Climate Solutions by Peter Barnes, which outlines 'Cap and Dividend', the US version of Cap and Share (see also the notes for page 79).

Page 78: Carbon Cashback

How can you come out ahead? Well, you pay a bit more for things because the permit price is built into the price of fuel used to make and transport everything. This happens automatically, and you don't notice it any more than you notice the price of copper (which is also built in to the price of things), but if you did and you added up all these tiny amounts, you'd find that you'd ended up paying a certain amount extra for things over the course of a year. And this amount of extra money you pay for things depends on how big your carbon footprint is. The bigger your carbon footprint, the more you pay.

But the cashback payments don't depend on your carbon footprint. The cashback system just takes all the extras paid by everyone, added together, and returns all that money to us with an equal share for everybody. That means that the cashback payment is the same amount as the average extra amount (averaged over the whole population). On average, then, it balances out.

So, if you have a lower than average carbon footprint, you'll be paying less than average, but you (like everyone else) get the average amount paid to you. So you'll come out ahead.

See the bonus pages 'Virtue Rewarded' and 'Winners and Losers', for how this rewards the 'right' people automatically, and why this means that there are many more winners than losers.

Page 79: Cheap and Cheerful

This basic concept goes under a variety of names (Cap and Share, Cap and Dividend, Tax and Dividend, Fee and Dividend, Cap and Prosper), because the same basic idea has occurred to many people and groups.

The fact that all these names consist of two parts underlines the fact that they all share the basic two principles laid out on page 79: (1) the cap is applied upstream, which makes for a simple, transparent, no-nonsense operation; and (2) the money raised is shared out equally (the details of this can vary; some people propose sharing out most of the money but holding back a small fraction to promote retrofit homes for energy efficiency, etc. - there is also an argument, especially in poorer countries, to say that the money should go to communities rather than to the individuals in those communities).

Some people (like James Hansen) believe that the word 'cap' is too contaminated by 'Cap and Trade' (where the cap is applied downstream and so involves trading of permits between end-users), and prefer to talk about a 'fee' instead.

There is more about all this on the Cap and Share website.

Note that the Cap and Share approach only tackles carbon emissions from fossil fuels (although a similar approach could be used for some other greenhouse gases) - we'd need other things such as land-use policies in place too.

Page 84: Tomorrow, the World

We say 'And finally', but of course logically we should start with the world, to determine the emissions reductions we need, and only then see how to apportion this between countries, industry sectors, or whatever.

Several proposals have been made for a formula to relate national caps to a global cap. One of the most famous is Contraction & Convergence, proposed by Aubrey Meyer and the Global Commons Institute.

Page 85: International Warming

Dishing out money via a WCO raises several issues. There are detailed decisions about who, exactly, qualifies - is it just adults, for example? And a distribution of money to individuals wouldn't help with collective enterprises such as building sea-walls. More fundamentally, there are many communities around the world where a sudden influx of money might be disruptive. These points are discussed further in Chapter 3 of the book Sharing for Survival edited by Brian Davey.

Page 94: Look Back in Wonder

We need positive visions of the future: there's far too much apocalyptic doom and gloom about. Famously, Martin Luther King's speech was 'I have a dream', not 'I have a nightmare'. A good example of a multi-faceted vision of the future, with desctiptions of a pathway from here to there, is the book The World We Made by Jonathon Poritt.

Page 104: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

See Paul Gilding's book The Great Disruption for the 'Great Awakening' and the possibility of action being driven by a crisis.

Page 105: Touch and Go

See the book The End of the Long Summer by Dianne Dumanoski for a look at honest hope.

Page 108: Living the Dream

The illustration is clearly an allusion to the old story where two workers were asked what they were doing: one replied, 'I'm cutting this stone,' and the other replied, 'I'm building a cathedral.' By all means concentrate on the job in hand, but keep one eye on the big picture.

Page 109: Wake-Up Call

'Waking up' is only a start, of course. We need action to change course, and that will involve all sorts of activity, including a long struggle of political campaigning.

It is also only a start to identify and point to frames. If we just do that, pointing to the frames can have the effect of reinforcing them. We need to construct, use and share alternative frames, such as 'Playground Thinking' and 'The Third Story', which can sit at the back of people's minds while more detailed debates go on in the foreground.

Page 110: The Long and Winding Road

We suggest that you to choose an organisation and join it, especially one that collaborates with others. Joining an existing group is usually more effective than starting your own. Which one you join is up to you (after all, grown-ups can make decisions for themselves), but if you want a suggestion to get you started, take a look at 350.org.

The phrase 'long emergency' comes from the title of the book The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler, and the idea of a 'part-time crusader' is due to the American writer Edward Abbey.

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