A systems analysis of the climate crisis
Most of us are worried about the climate crisis and our future to some degree. Many of us are actively trying to make a difference. But often the question arises: is what I am doing effective?
In order to answer that question, we must look at the big picture and at the dynamics at play. Below is an attempt to develop an understanding which variables play together in the system comprised of humans and the planet and where we find positive feedback loops, levers and buffers. When you are an activist, you don't want to target buffers. You would be wasting your time. You want to find the strongest levers. One very strong lever is a global deal on climate change. That is what climate activists and many others focussed on in Copenhagen. But it didn't work. There are two more strong levers: development models (which can be carbon-intensive or free of fossil fuels) and the cheap supply of fossil fuels. By leaving fossil fuels in the ground, we can automatically shift the system into a different state.
Please take a look at the analysis, comment, criticize, give feedback or develop your own model. This is an invitation to get smart at understanding systems dynamics and make use of them!
The relevant variables of the system:
How each variable impacts each other variable. This is a very simple exercise, called the "paper computer" that takes about an hour and is the key element of the analysis. (no impact=0, small=1, medium=2, strong impact=3)
Counting together active figures (impacts on others) and passive figures (impacts a variable receives) we get an idea of the (potential) role of a variable within a system.
Feedback loops make the picture more complex. Even if a variable is not a powerful (i.e. active) player in itself, it might play a role in some vicious or virtuous cycle. (and that way have a come-back as a target for activists)
Here you can find the whole analysis.
Instructions on how to do your own analysis.