The minute you do what you really want to do, it’s really a different kind of life. – R. Buckminster Fuller

The preceding article in this series – Unlimited Upside of a Decision-making Process for Reversing Global Warming showed that an exponential upward trajectory of a decision-making process for reversing global warming might look like this:

Exponential & Unlimited Upside of a Decision-making Process for Reversing Global Warming
Figure 1: Exponential & Unlimited Upside of a Decision-making Process for Reversing Global Warming

What might you – shifting decision-makers to that exponential upward trajectory and reversing global warming – look like?

*  *  *  *

In 1972, inventor and futurist Buckminster Fuller shared this metaphor, suggesting what one person might do to change the direction of human society:

Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Elizabeth – the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all.

On a ship like the Queen Elizabeth, a trim tab is the smaller rudder that turns the larger rudder that turns the ship, as shown in Figure 2:

Trim Tab of a Ship
Figure 2: Trim Tab of a Ship

Fuller continued:

The little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that [on the ship’s rudder] and the whole big ship of state is going to go.

What if that’s true? What if you – through “doing dynamic things mentally” – can build a low pressure – like a trim tab – that pulls human society’s rudder around, and that turns the whole big ship of human society – to reversing global warming?

Fuller expanded on the trim tab metaphor:

The truth is that you get the low pressure to do things, rather than getting on the other side and trying to push the bow of the ship around. … So I’m positive that what you do with yourself, just the little things you do yourself, these are the things that count. To be a real trim tab, you’ve got to start with yourself, and soon you’ll feel that low pressure, and suddenly things begin to work in a beautiful way.

Writer Amy Edmondson put it this way: “Anyone can act as a trim tab, in part by recognizing the potential downstream influence of small high-leverage actions pointing in the new right direction. The trim tab’s tiny movement has leverage. The right shift in the right place at the right time.”

What might you acting as a trim tab – for reversing global warming – look like?

It might look like you doing three things:

First, you acting as a trim tab for reversing global warming might look like you doing the Jonas Salk thing and asking yourself, “What might right questions for reversing global warming look like?”

The Jonas Salk thing works because millions of years of evolution have hard-wired your brain to ask right questions and to evolve solutions — to problems like global warming –based on the pre-existing answers revealed by the right questions you ask.

What might your right questions look like?

They might look like the questions that you’ve read in this Reversing Global Warming series of articles.

Or they might look like better questions than the questions asked throughout this Reversing Global Warming article series.

Your better right questions might reveal better pre-existing answers from which you evolve a better solution to the problem of global warming.

In the trim tab metaphor, the right questions that you ask determine the direction in which you turn your trim tab rudder (your own mind) that turns the larger rudder (the minds of a group of decision-makers) that turns the whole big ship of human society (groups of decision-makers throughout the whole of human society) in the direction of reversing global warming, as shown in Figure 3:

You Acting as a Trim Tab
Figure 3: You Acting as a Trim Tab

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Second, you acting as a trim tab for reversing global warming might look like you doing the Nelson Mandela thing, that is, persuading people (decision-makers) to do extraordinary things (like ending apartheid or reversing global warming) by:

  • starting conversations and inviting them to consider asking themselves your right questions
  • engaging them in thinking about the pre-existing answers revealed by your right questions
  • allowing them to persuade themselves of the pre-existing answers
  • making them think that the pre-existing answers – and a solution evolved from the pre-existing answers – were their own ideas.

The Nelson Mandela thing works because millions of years of evolution have hard-wired decision-makers’ brains:

  • to converse among themselves and ask themselves right questions
  • to persuade themselves of pre-existing answers revealed by the right questions they ask themselves
  • to evolve solutions to problems like global warming based on the pre-existing answers, and
  • to make consensus decisions – and take swift group action on those consensus decisions – to implement the solutions evolved from the pre-existing answers.

You see, doing the Jonas Salk thing is useless unless someone (such as you, dear reader) does the Nelson Mandela thing: engaging decision-makers in conversations and inviting them to consider asking themselves the right questions through which they persuade themselves to do extraordinary things – like reversing global warming.

Doing the Nelson Mandela thing is a job just as necessary for reversing global warming as figuring out what right questions might look like for reversing global warming.

Doing the Nelson Mandela thing might look like:

  • millions of engaged and enthusiastic people (like you, dear reader)
  • having millions of conversations among themselves and
  • engaging decision-makers in millions of inviting-them-to-consider-asking-themselves-the-right-questions conversations through which
    • they persuade themselves to create and implement decision-making processes for exponentially adopting carbon-reducing options and reversing global warming and …
    • they think it was their own ideas.

In short, doing the Nelson Mandela thing to reverse global warming might look like the biggest persuasion job in human history.

Do you want to make history? It’s your decision.

*  *  *  *

Third, you acting as a trim tab for reversing global warming might look like groups of decision-makers throughout the whole of human society imitating the successful solution demonstrated by a group of decision-makers who considered and accepted your invitation to ask themselves the right questions.

The imitating-successful-solutions thing works because millions of years of evolution have hard-wired the brains of every person – in every group of decision-makers throughout the whole of human society – to imitate successful solutions demonstrated by other groups of decision-makers.

In the trim tab metaphor, a successful solution implemented by a group of decision-makers is the larger rudder that – through people’s successful-solution-imitating power of mind — turns the whole big ship of human society (groups of decision-makers throughout the whole of human society) in the direction of reversing global warming.

A successful decision-making process might look like a scalable solution because every human being’s successful-solution-imitating power of mind makes the new process exponentially recognizable and implementable by every person – and every group of decision-makers – throughout the whole of human society.

A successful decision-making process might look like a disruptive solution because every human being’s successful-solution-imitating power of mind makes the existing process exponentially obsolete and abandonable – by every person and every group of decision-makers throughout the whole of human society.

*  *  *  *

Buckminster Fuller said, “To be a real trim tab, you’ve got to start with yourself.”

Your brain is hard-wired with powers of asking right questions, making decisions based on pre-existing answers revealed by those right questions, and taking swift action on those decisions by engaging people in conversations and inviting them to consider asking themselves those right questions.

You have the power to activate the right-question-asking, consensus-decision-making and successful-solution-imitating powers — of the people with whom you are in conversation – to reverse global warming.

Once you decide to activate your powers, in the words of Buckminster Fuller, “soon you’ll feel that low pressure, and suddenly things begin to work in a beautiful way.”

You’ll feel the low pressure of first, a group of decision-makers, then the whole big ship of human society, turning in the direction of reversing global warming.

*  *  *  *

Wondering about the next step for reversing global warming?

My new book, You Can Reverse Global Warming, shows how you can reverse global warming.

For a limited time, you can download a complimentary advance copy of You Can Reverse Global Warming at www.erikkvam.com.

Got questions about how you can swiftly achieve 100% renewable energy?  About how you can reverse global warming?  If you do, I hope that you will send me a message at extraordinary@erikkvam.com.

*  *  *  *

In the next article in this Reversing Global Warming series, I invite you to consider asking a question, making a decision, and starting a conversation to reverse global warming.

Thank you for reading this article.  I’m grateful for your comments.


    1 Response to "How You Can Reverse Global Warming"

    • Albert Bates

      Dear Erik,

      I greatly applaud this work of yours and the fine presentation style that makes it widely accessible. I wonder, however, whether your book really grasps the scope of the problem. There are a number of excellent studies now, such as Zero Carbon Britain 2030, that tell us how to get to carbon neutrality, even at a profit, but relatively few (my own book Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Earth being one) that show the path beyond zero.

      If it were just a matter of reducing GHG emissions to a critical level, an increasingly stringent emissions allowance scheme, begun at the time of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, could have reduced emissions sufficiently to mitigate the worst projections for global warming. However, emission reductions were late in arriving and are now insufficient. [IPCC 2018] Although most of the emitted CO2 is naturally re-integrated into the terrestrial system in the first decades to centuries (mainly in biomass and oceans), 20 to 40% of CO2 remains in the atmosphere for many millennia. [Archer 2009] Thus, unless carbon is actively withdrawn from the atmosphere and prevented from returning, it will lead to continued global warming, even if all nations now, finally, succeed in completely neutralizing fossil fuel emissions, typically by target dates of 2030 to 2050.

      Proactive removal of CO2 from the atmosphere is referred to as drawdown, negative emission (NE) or carbon dioxide removal (CDR). Over the past two centuries, 1,374 gigatons of greenhouse gases (expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents) have been moved from deep terrestrial repositories (hundreds of millions of years of entombed sunlight) and placed, suddenly, into the atmosphere. Given their long residence times, some 700 gigatons of these “legacy emissions” remain today, as atmospheric CO2 that will have warming effects for centuries still to come, even if all emissions stopped today.

      Moreover, the surface of the ocean serves as both the sink for many of these pollutants but also a regulator of relative carbon concentration between ocean and air maintaining a continuous equilibrium. A kilogram of CO2 removed from the atmosphere is immediately replaced by roughly half a kilogram drawn from the surface of the ocean. To remove the full kilogram, two kilograms would need to be extracted, essentially half from air and half from water.

      Carbon extracted from the atmosphere, whether by mechanical means or photosynthesis, must then be reaffixed within the terrestrial and aquatic systems and stored for long geologic periods. Absent this storage step, carbon will merely return to the atmosphere in the natural course of the circulatory carbon cycle. Most efforts in afforestation and reforestation, and climate-smart agriculture, are ultimately only carbon neutral for this reason, as are renewable energy programs, no matter how ambitious.

      Respectfully, Albert Bates
      Cool Design Group

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