Walking Backwards from Cataclysm: A Strategic Planning Methodology to Avert Climate Change

By Ken Ward
Grist.org
April 15, 2007

After a decade of brutal political trench warfare, the surreal debate in the U.S. on the reality of climate change is over. A Democratic Congress looking to put climate in play in 2008, serious buy-in for federal regulation from a band of corporate heavyweights, and a rash of climate conversions from the likes of Pat Robertson and Frank Luntz (author of the infamous strategy memo advising Bush administration operatives how to muddle the climate change debate) demonstrate that a significant and probably permanent shift in climate change political gravity has taken place within the last year.

U.S. environmentalists have a very brief opportunity to reshape our climate agenda in order to meet the demands and seize the opportunities of new circumstances, and the stakes could not be higher. It is likely that the actions of U.S. environmentalists in the next two or three years –- more so than any other group of people on the planet -– will determine whether a functional global response to abrupt climate change is advanced.

The Bright Lines exercise applies standard campaign-planning methodology, usually referred to as “walking backward from the problem,” to develop an alternative U.S. climate strategy based on the global standard of action to avert abrupt climate change—or “bright line”—defined by Jim Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies [see Hansen publications]. The “Bright Lines” alternative is practical, plausible, and appealing, and offers better odds of averting abrupt climate change then our present effort.

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