Climate Changes

Our future depends on our ability to change how we see ourselves and the world and act on it — and it pays to know how this works.

Climate change is here (as if there was much doubt).

After decades of cautious language, scientists are now speaking about climate change in unequivocal terms.

The future of life for earth’s humans, plants, and animals is now in the hands of those alive today. That’s a lot of power and responsibility.

Creating positive climate change (e.g., reducing carbon emissions) depends on our understanding of both climate and change. If we fail to appreciate either, human life is in trouble.

Climate

This is the ultimate systems challenge. It requires systems thinking, systemic design, and systems development. A system – a bounded and interconnected set of actors, relationships, and structures — is what the earth’s climate is all about.

It’s why our oceans affect everything. It’s why the snow melt in the mountains influences whether people thousands of miles away have water to drink and agriculture can survive. It’s why biodiversity in a rain forest shapes weather patterns and land use across a continent. It’s why the planet is how it is.

This is systems thinking at its most basic and fundamental. We are seeing how our choices and the structures we’ve created to nurture, encourage, and constrain them are affecting everything on the surface of this planet. This connects time, actions, relationships, and effects together. If we don’t start thinking and acting on, within, and through systems in ways that positively constrain our harmful choices the planet will move on without us.

Climate is not just trees, rivers, mountains, and clouds, it is our organizations, communities, and families. We create micro climates for policy choices – those governing or guiding directions for how to act – in these climates. These climates are not only influenced by us, they are designed. If we design them poorly — in ways that encourage choices and actions that continue to generate or facilitate carbon production and release – we will have fewer and more life-changing choices to make.

Change

Design is about creating plans for change and putting those plans into action.

Design is change made tangible.

We are in a place where we need to consider what it means to change and put in place designs — programs, policies, social structures (and expectations), and personal habits – that change what we do, consume, and produce.

This means knowing how we design organizations that support and encourage healthy relationships between people (each other and their social environment) and the planet around them.

This also means understanding how we design spaces to work, live and play in ways that connect us to the environments in which they reside. Creating healthy spaces is not just about health, it might be about survival.

Change means making the consequences of our choices more visible by allowing us to see their effects on the world. Tools like those from organizations like Project Neutral are examples of this in practice.

This is the psychology of innovation and climate change and with our understanding of it all, we can ensure that any future IPCC reports are ones that show how we’re enhancing life on our planet rather than the alternative.

Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

Cameron D. Norman

I am a designer, psychologist, educator, evaluator, and strategist focused on innovation in human systems. I'm curious about the world around me and use my role as Principal and President of Cense Ltd. as a means of channeling that curiosity into ideas, questions, and projects that contribute to a better world.

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