Another conflict resolution exercise—solutions to climate change, part 3

“We’re talking about this civilly!” was my favorite line of the workshop. It came during the exercise Gradients of Agreement in the workshop Friends Process: Responding to Climate Change, where we produced a minute on climate change. In this exercise, we first identified our position on wonk recommendations (from major reports from the communities that begin with peer review) on solutions to climate change, and then we explained why we were standing where we were.

After each statement (see below), we stretched ourselves out on a line from 1 to 8. Then those at the extremes explained their reasoning; others did as well. At any point we could move around, or stay put. Those who moved shared why, and others might share why they stayed put, and what could entice them to move. Moving around physically made the exercise different somehow—it let us feel that our commitment to a position could be temporary. And at any point we might be asked to explain our position, something we do too rarely in the safety of like-minded others.

The gradient line:
1 whole-hearted endorsement
2 agreement with a minor point of contention
3 support with reservations
4 abstain
5 more discussion needed
6 don’t like but will support
7 serious disagreement
8 veto

The closest we got to an agreement on any statement below was clustering between 1 and 4; sometimes we stretched from 1 to 8.

Place yourself on the line for each of these six statements. Can you explain why you are there? All of these are mainstream predictions, although A, C, and F come from the most aggressive push I’ve seen for alternatives to fossil fuels from a mainstream source, International Energy Agency’s Redrawing the Energy Map..

A. I support International Energy Agency’s recommendation to add 4,000 terawatt-hours wind yearly (including replacement of essentially all current windmills), and 1200 TWh solar yearly in panels, including replacements, by 2035. The wind, if on land, would be spread over 200,000 sq miles (about 1.5 Californias), with more than 7,000 sq miles of land actually covered by roads and windmill. Much of solar would be solar parks spread over 10,000 sq miles (an area the size of Maryland). [Note: the comparison is to US states, but IEA’s recommendations, here and below, are for the world.]

B. I support adding a cost to greenhouse gas emissions. The current US estimate of social cost of GHG would add $36/ton, about 3.6 cent/kWh for coal, half that for natural gas, and 32 cents/gallon for gasoline, and a lot to the cost of an airplane flight (more than just the tax on fuel). This would likely be 3 – 4 times larger, or even more, by 2050.

C. I support International Energy Agency’s recommendation to add 3,500 terawatt-hours in new nuclear yearly, including replacements, by 2035. This is about 400 reactors of the type being built today in South Carolina and Georgia, although the actual mix will probably include some that are smaller. Land use is less than 1% of wind.

D. I support hydraulic fracturing, fracking, techniques used to replace coal with natural gas in the US, China, Germany and elsewhere.

E. I support adding a cost to greenhouse gases and letting the market decide which solutions are the best able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rather than subsidizing wind and solar.

F. I support increasing International Energy Agency’s recommendation to increase the world’s supply of hydro by almost one half by 2035.

I was always in position 1 for each of these, although I assumed the fetal position for recommendation F—if there are more major solutions than are needed, hydro will be the first to be cut. All of these are mainstream wonk recommendations. For more, see Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group 3, Mitigation (a new report is due out mid-2014). For a relatively easy to follow wonk blog, try Energy Economics Exchange.

Leave a comment with where you are on the line for any one of these statements, A – F, especially one you have changed your position on, and why? What might change your position again?


Part 1 Quaker workshop minute on climate change
Part 2 Conflict resolution exercise—solutions to climate change in which we look at which sources we rely on, and why

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