Environmental projects

How healthy is the planet? Let’s count the bison and beaver and see

A rule of thumb measure we can all be asking our governments to show progress towards. As we ask what planetary initiatives are really being attended to in our name.

Carly Vynne and co-authors have just published an open source research paper this week. It outlines work undertaken in mapping the world’s remaining intact large mammal landscapes (see also Osprey Insights projects here).

So what? You may ask

I see this as a potential measure we can all seek visibility of. Assessing both behaviours and trust in local, national, and international plans. A rule of thumb (heuristic) measure easy to see.

This Ecography published paper focuses on “intact large mammal assemblages“. Putting up a case for the health of an ecosystem being most easily assessed as a conservation success story by the presence of these specifically identified mammals. Relevant because:

Large mammal species are particularly sensitive to human activities through habitat alteration and direction exploitation.

Vynne et al (2022)

The worrying statistic offered is that only 15% of relevant terrestrial earth surface currently contains an intact large mammal assemblage. These tending to be areas of connected preserved status where “protected area networks” are actively retained. The largest examples being in Brazilian Amazon, southern Africa, Australia and the Himalayas. But every piece of land is measured in the 15%. The additional observation offered is evidence of concentric circle effect as one moves out from these large mammal assemblage areas – with an increasing lack of biodiversity as one moves out from these centres.

I am reminded of the 2021 Netflix movie presented by David Attenborough “Breaking Boundaries”. These are system of system level metrics. Ones that we can all see and understand. David Attenborough is presenting the long-term research of Professor Johan Rockström at research institutes in Sweden and Germany. Specifically the nine Planetary Boundaries model. It is presented these 9 key metrics of our planetary health. Of these nine, loss of biosphere integrity, is given the highest rating of uncertainty. Amounting to the highest immediate risk to the stability of our planetary home. The threshold we have past much more severe than that even of climate change.

With this most concerning of the 9 thresholds in mind, this latest paper is therefore presenting another simplification of measurement of our biggest immediate threat. We can all ask the same question. Can we preserve and restore enough habitat to retain our biodiversity? Measured by the presence of a few key mammals.

Here are the named mammals. Most of which we would not want to visit our gardens, but then neither do they necessarily want us visiting theirs. And therein sits the challenge we have to embrace.

…European bison Bison bonasus, Eurasian beaver Castor fiber, reindeer Rangifer tarandus, wolf Canis lupus and lynx Lynx lynx [35 ecoregions]….

wild horse Equus ferus and wolf in the Himalayan ecoregions [10 ecoregions could be improved by 89%].

In Africa, reintroductions of hippopotamus Hippotamus amphibius, cheetah Acinonyx jubatus, common tsessebe Damaliscus lunatus, African wild dog Lycaon pictus and lion Panthera leo [50 ecoregions by 108%]

North American brown bear Ursus arctos, American bison Bison bison, wolverine Gulo gulo and American black bear Ursus americanus … [22 ecoregions, 17% of the continent, 117% increase in area with intact mammal assemblages) after]

Vynne et al (2022)

In the UK we are already beginning these debates. The beaver has been introduced in experimental settings (rewilding Britain). This trial has immediately produced positive results. But also immediately exposed the very real implications to human displacements and limitations it ultimately starts to impose.

Project implications

These are the real issues of today. We have governments and international institutions promoting more environmentally sustainable ways to be. We have CoP26 campaigns and pledges associated with carbon and materials use. These are pressing issues to which we can review targets and cynically sneer from a psychologically safe distance. But perhaps we should instead be asking how every project our governments and corporations embark upon, impacts wider ecological goals.

But that is still abstract. To most people those are just numbers to manipulate, or impacts felt at remote institutional levels we can just bemoan. At this level of abstraction, we can carry on and blame them when it fails. When however the concern is more tangible, it becomes our concern if we want it to be. And we really should.

We each instigate projects. We can therefore each claim ownership and control. Simply by asking better questions of ourselves in every project we each undertake. Everyday projects of improvement to our houses, our families, and ourselves. How do these changes we intend, ultimately require unsustainable change to these bigger habitat level systems? The systems of systems sitting at the other end? Suddenly, we are all able to make a better choice. By asking more of the impacts of our more simple choice. What we wear. What we replace. What we upgrade. And what we eat.

The main drivers of change are the demand for food, water, and natural resources, causing severe biodiversity loss and leading to changes in ecosystem services. These drivers are either steady, showing no evidence of declining over time, or are increasing in intensity. The current high rates of ecosystem damage and extinction can be slowed by efforts to protect the integrity of living systems (the biosphere), enhancing habitat, and improving connectivity between ecosystems while maintaining the high agricultural productivity that humanity needs.

Addressing biodiversity, Stockholm Resilience Centre https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries/the-nine-planetary-boundaries.html

What habitat is changed to enable each choice we make? That’s a question we all know we should ask. With this simple explanation of intact large mammal assemblages, we perhaps already know the answers. We just do not want to know.

The complete paper by Carly Vynne of Osprey Insights et al can be found here. Dated 27th January 2022.

The omicron silver-lining?

Is nature turning our way?

Here is an excellent summary of current guess work regarding the soon to be globally dominant variant of SARS-Covid 19. This is Dr. John Campbell again, making good use of the scientific community to reflect on immediate knowns and unknowns. In summary

  • follow all guidelines of hygiene, ventilation, and masks
  • get vaccinated – and get your booster
  • expect high levels of infection anyway
  • hope the best guesses of the science community are correct – that higher transmissibility but milder symptoms overall mean immunity starts to look more manageable soon.

Watch the link I attached for the more technical and expert view.

—//—

A footnote

I am suddenly reminded of the War of Worlds ending. HG Wells, 1897. Plus The Matrix observation that suggests we humans behave more like a virus than we do other animals. If this virus wants to co-exist its going to have to find a way to keep us healthy – maybe omicron is that move. Seems a reasonable message from the planet to us too.

Did you know mega comes from omega, to mean large? In Ancient Greek, omega and omicron both sounded the same when spoken, but the letters O, o (omicron) and Ω, ω (omega) represented small and large, respectively (source here). Perhaps our earth crisis is our omega yet to face, once our omicron is resolved.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

Earth history, our future

We have choice, we have self-control

A blog addressing self-control. The piece of the environmental puzzle we each own. A contribution to the whole, if we so choose.

As CoP26 gets moving past the administrative tasks of state, I find myself wondering on what it is we all do that makes changes for the common good so hard to follow through.

The piece I think we all lose sight of, is self-control. Behavioural control in its most personal form. There is contemporary debate as to what consciousness is, and whether it is even a thing at all. Whether free will or biology, given the magnitude of the dilemma we all now face together, I am minded to think that the answer to that matters little. This is our moment to make action our goal. That starts at home. With a little reorientation of our self-control

Success requires clarity of purpose and self-control

For every self-made success these two factors seem to me present. There is clarity of purpose. And intent on keeping to this task, and thereby enacting self-control. When people talk in admirable terms of ambition, effectiveness, or being on the ball. When addressing ourselves as being present. In the moment. As one person, as a team, or collaborators in a project. We purposefully take to action and all distraction is kept under control.

v | b | t

The achievement accomplished is appraised based upon what was before, compared to what is now. Or what is now possible, that was not possible before. This achievement required a visibility, a clear directed change by the actor(s). It then took behaviours directed towards this goal. A determination to overcome unforeseen event. And a personal and/or shared trust that this could be seen through.

Managing behaviour is what we do

What makes consciousness interesting here is what is going on within. We are permanently being distracted. Distraction is at the heart of what our competing systems within us do. They present us with choice, or bring to our awareness wider issues, opportunity, or threat, to give option to reprioritise some more.

The privilege of the human condition is the extent to which we have put ourselves at the fulcrum of this distraction. We can act upon distraction with additional strategic inference. We can move our inference to higher levels of perspective. We can move our enquiry to lower levels of insight but higher levels of detail. We can seek more detail or bigger picture or put time to both. We can communicate this enquiry or we can do this from within. We can place ourselves in externally different, better, more challenging, less certain, or more exciting, places to be distracted over and over again.

Choice

That is what I take choice to mean today. These days of global need. We have basic needs as individuals. Our brain and body collude to make us ever aware of that fact. Our social instincts enable that need to be embraced as family concern. Tribal influence. National pride. And now, if we choose, global unity to inform a global act.

Competition

What this also reflects is the fundamentals of our biology. Fundamentals of our chemistry before life was even a thing. There is finite resource and more demand than supply. Nature and chaos find their own delicate equilibrium. We are gifted with the means to make something of that equilibrium. By our action we do some nudging of our own.

Competing towards collaborative ends

But now we compete not for ourselves. Instead we compete for the future versions of us. As our biology today reflects from all before. Whatever happens at CoP26, that all begins right here. In each home. With our manner of self-control. Making choice toward future generations we will not know. Or taking more for ourselves, eating more seeds than we sow.

We are each a project | within this project. This is our project of correction. Of planned redirection. To find the ultimate equilibrium. The platform that can sustain us all. This place on earth remains our ultimate system. We can choose it. Or it can consume us all.

—//—

Supplemental note: Earth History as observed in terms of behaviour

Intended change by us as humans vs the behaviours of chemistry or biology – a reflection on which is which. The latter requires none of the choice decisions we can make, but for all our talking is this road we passively take.

Archean Era to now

~3.5 Billion years of earth history. A few basics of what behaviours came before.

Settled chemistry

Any dynamic system can be said to behave. Predictably, or not. Well, or not. Living, or not. Nor is there anything in life that holds a privileged place in playing a part in change. In geology you can study what happens when the same chemistry plays out in different arenas with different agents of change. Deep within the Earth’s crust, in magma chambers, minerals and crystals can emerge differently from the chemical grabs that are made for the same finite resource. Time, heat, and gravity playing roles in what ingredients sit where. The conditions of what is left, dictating what is next. Some ingredients becoming heavy, others relatively light. Gravity settling occurring through relative viscosity. More pressure from above, or more heat from below can change the rates and settled nature within. There is only temporary stability and rates of change. Add more pressure or more heat, some of the solid masses return to liquid form, and what chemistry had been claimed becomes free to be reclaimed by new crystallising processes once again.

Change is inevitable

There was therefore behaviour before there was life. Chemical reaction and physical change well studied in timespans we humans have geologically categorised. At global scale this reflected atmospheric conditions where greenhouse effects were a positive influence. A young sun with heat held within a primitive atmosphere enabling temperatures that support liquid water to prevail. Pillow lava flows from 3.5 billion years ago evidence of this early water. Spewing into this water, were volcanic vents depositing chemical mixtures with energy and ingredients for life all mixing and settling within. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) settling amidst amino acids and other key components that would eventually make biological cells (cf. Science Direct).

Acting not settling

We are not rocks. Bacteria and archaea made the early headway there. How we define the precise moment that there was life is still not completely clear. At its most basic level however, the sentiment of passive chemical action makes way for biologically active intent. Perhaps. Settling into the chemical glue still brings about reactions, but the objective action may have some process its form is additionally enabling it to do.

Passive to active as regulated behaviour

An autopoiesis is what is now termed to describe these, and all subsequent, emerging first choices made. A regulation of the first defended boundary. A containment within the first cell. An inner influence to the outside chemical glue. Early life. Mobility in water. Gathering, collecting, interacting. Then finding new heat from the sun. Converting wider bandwidths of energy in the form of light.

Therein presenting a growing need for biologically active regulations.

Definition of autopoiesis

…the property of a living system (such as a bacterial cell or a multicellular organism) that allows it to maintain and renew itself by regulating its composition and conserving its boundaries… the mechanisms of self-production are the key to understand both the diversity and the uniqueness of the living.— Francisco J. Varela, in Self-Organizing Systems: An Interdisciplinary Approach, 1981

…the ancient common ancestor which evolved autopoiesis and thus became the first living cell.— Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, What is Life?, 2000

Merriam-Webster

Still several billion years ago, amidst the trillions of chance events, an archaea and a bacteria were conjoined – rather than the one consumed – a Union. A first inkling into the power upgrade available if cooperation can resume. A repeatable fact that ballooned. This is mitochondrial symbiosis, that is still evidencing that chance happening today. Adding advantage of symbiosis, to the advancement and specialisms of two cells not dividing but instead remaining together and acting as one, and diversity of chance exponentially grows.

This is more than just selfish genes. This is life and 2 billion years of it as competing in rates of growth, not rates of evolution to hunt or avoid being the prey.

The predator age is much more recent. The Cambrian period. It begins in earnest 550 million years ago. With such predation the fashion of the age, competition steps up another gear.

Here is where a split of opinion in contemporary science exists. Whether the nature of us all is as savage as some would hold. Or whether a collaborative realism exists borne of that bacterial age. As explained by biochemist Dr. Nick Lane.

This discrepancy is partly responsible for the schism that has opened between Margulis and neo-darwinists like Dawkins. Dawkins’ ideas about selfish genes are equivocal when applied to bacteria (which he does not try to do). For Margulis, however, the whole tapestry of evolution is woven by the collaborations of bacteria, which form not just colonies but the very fabric of individual bodies and minds, responsible even for our consciousness, via the threadlike networks of microtubules in the brain. Indeed, Margulis pictures the entire biosphere as the construct of collaborating bacteria – Gaia, the concept that she pioneered with James Lovelock

Dr. Nick Lane pp10

Not that Dawkins deems the selfish gene to be opposing others.

My first book, The Selfish Gene, could equally have been called The Cooperative Gene without a word of the book itself needing to be changed… Selfishness and cooperation are two sides of a Darwinian coin. Each gene promotes its own selfish welfare, by cooperating with other genes in the sexually stirred gene pool which is the gene’s environment, to build shared bodies

Richard Dawkins “The ancestors tale” cited by Lane pp11-12

From a behavioural perspective, the underlying point is the active role now played. The finite resources now in chemical soups that may be ingested, breathed, absorbed, or converted within, becoming increasingly complexed, and biology finding new ways to play. The passive competition of process of chemical reactions now a regulated phenomena. All now biological actions as determined by a need.

Complex enough to choose

It is only very recently – once the rarity of a brain cortex became sufficiently engorged that chemistry, biology, and the increasing complexity of organisation of process – that the divisions and specialisms of more and complex multi-cellular organisms became a means of influence with an awareness of their all. The mammalian brain, surrounding an emotionally reactive middle, but still influenced by the compulsions of a reptilian spinal column and stem. It is with this growing complexity that the external world, offering a momentary window of stability, that symbology and learning had a chance to stay.

Even now we debate what is real. Not only of this account of a history, but also of what is real by the perceptions of own minds. What the brain translates – from messages as smells, recoding from light-sensitive retinas, vibrations of sound, and an array of felt messaging from our boundary edges coated in skin – are the best guessed of a collective system of cells in the brain (only 10% of which are neurons) is a translation of sensed experience. From this space inside a skull shaped prison, a dark and silent space between our ears and behind our eyes, our brain perceives what is real. Who are we to be so bold as to think what each brain holds true? We can but presume and suppose. Only we.

Even our close cousins see through different eyes. Pay different attention to smell. And as for other possible consciousness such as our octopus cousins – of shared simple worm like grandparents from 350 million years ago – they skulk alone. One per 5 million or so offspring making it to their version of adulthood. Their wits tested in the extreme with plenty of interest in decision-making. Neuronal connections but in a very different home.

Each system of systems we each represents by the boundary layer of our skin, is in competition within. As it is with all complexity of life. Our distractions of our systems are just more complete in their means to make all feel as one.

How do we all win and compete?

Against this shared history of everything, this is the challenge of our time. Our whole chemical-biological-history has been about taking what our own internal systems need. Reward of survival via our selfishness, our greed. Social instinct a more recent win bonus for the biology that is able to collaborate and become more and with greater speed. That is the lesson I think we now all need to take heed.

Socially mobile, individually doomed

That it is our social skills that make us more adaptive to environments than all other living beings we oppose. Our shared ability to abstractly take constraints and limitations, add new perspective, introduce outside chemistry with our mathematics and our physics, our metallurgy, and technology, and become more. Yes, we compete. Neanderthals once vouched for how good we are at that. But we compete best together.

Now we need to compete as nothing has ever competed before. We compete beyond our inner need, and greed. Define better our tasks and our goals. Seek solutions to global problems we all now own.

Whether free will or not our biology gives us choice. What we now choose is with intent. We actively direct our next actions. We find new motivations for shared self-control. Or like rocks, we all passively sink. Let’s not leave it to nature to decide.

The global witching hour

Be more than a-woke by ghosts today

A blog to offer an alternative way to scare the living without disturbing the dead.

Halloween night is when the witches come. Except that’s not really the original point. Nor is it the manner of celebration many traditions choose this day to represent.

Leaders of the world step up

There are leaders in Glasgow tomorrow. But there are leaders within us all every day. I say we should each start there. Demanding less of others, and more of ourselves. Maybe then, mother nature can know we still care.

If you think this is you. There are a few words more.

—//—

Halloween | All Saints | Day of the Dead

Before the conquistadors and James Bond had their say, there was an Aztec tradition that enabled reflection upon time with forbearers. Re-engage with the sacrifices of time and toil of lives now given up. The progress they made, and unknowns they faced. Or the labours they were forced to provide. Or the lives forced to take or give up.

That was the 9th month in the Aztec Calendar. In Japan, the Buddhist tradition of Oban is celebrated in mid-August with similar ancestral homage respected. In Celtic tradition the end of summer, Samhain, it was believed the world of gods and people combined with much mischief abounding upon a fearful mortal domain. Western Christendom had means to integrate all such tradition with its own feasts around All Saints Day, and the beginning of Allhallowtide (all per Britannica.com).

Think on that hollowed out message as pumpkin lights fade.

All Saints Day v | b | t

So what then of tomorrow? A new day. 1st November 2021 is when our leaders gather in Glasgow to debate our shared fate. To decide what traditions and behaviours we can all dare to change. What sacrifice we all must forsake. What future toil we all are prepared to make. Or what further study we sanction, for further visibility of unbelievable harm. What trusts we deny, and deem the next generation better placed to palm. What risk to the future generations of selves do we therein choose to pass on? What will we all opt out of a 26th time, at CoP26? Forsake, and in our place ask the yet born to take.

Trick or treat?

Treat – more than we can chew

We are now connected. Feasting as we go. All hungry caterpillars upon the one tree. Gestating today. Digesting our yesterday. Cocooning our decisions and letting loose butterfly effects we cannot rewind.

Trick – fooling all including ourselves

Maybe it is time to stop looking to others. Look again at our past, but think upon ourselves as a living influence to the next. The global village is now here whether we like it or not.

Can we look beyond greed?

What is at the heart of our project mission is the pursuit of more. Individually a greater share. But also collectively more for the earth to have to bare. And perhaps it is this that we all need to help stop.

My greed is good?

Adam Smith

Capitalists are not going to stop growing with individualist greed.

Adam Smith was about optimising the output from the land by the few. Labour a resource to factor into such process. The invisible hand that steers individualistic ambition to bring about trickle down growth for all. Nietzsche’s will of individual power.

Our greed is good?

Karl Marx

Communists are not going to stop growing with collectivist need.

The early Karl Marx was about addressing alienation. The hands of the worker having no ownership of what they make. Getting too little of what the few take. The effort of all, the land owned by none but the state. Trotsky’s power of shared will.

Green is good – less greed is better

My point here is not political. Other than to say all our politics, and the nation states that hold flavours of individualism or collectivism at the helm, all amount to more of the same.

Have this at the heart of what is visible. Of the finite resource there is, it is our nation states that must thrive. Regardless of culture and ethics, political sentiment, or personal faith, it is this fact that wills us all to claim a bigger stake. Determines how we each and all behave. Trust becomes easier offered, when yours is the whip hand to extend.

The Earth provides-enough to satisfy everyone’s needs but not any one’s greed

Ghandi

Think therefore upon each of the green solutions being presented. The ways we are being offered to change our behaviours, in all that we do. They each still equate to the same.

We are being shown how to consume more, but in cleaner ways.

Enough and no more

I am not sure any of us has the right to question the needs of another. But I do think we should be able to explain what it is that we need. And what it is we intend to do with what we have. Not in any draconian or anti-establishment way, or as naïve power of love simple life ways. Simply by the questions we ask of ourselves and of each other. And the messages we therein convey.

Some of these first steps then become a little easier. And meaningfully challenging to those that drive growth without consideration to wider cost. Those seem the simplest and easiest first steps for east and west. This is not about ownership and what we can have. This is about service to the future, and what we can be. Take what you need; to do with that what you must. But once you have got there, its time to give something back.

What we give back is time at the wheel – or that spare time is what each of us chooses to steal.

Our hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explains this well enough. We all need to feed. We all need to breath. We then need safety. Then kinship and personal and societal esteem. Finally, however, we then want to be the best versions of what we can be.

We are many who now sit at this final impasse. This pinnacle of existence but declining to acknowledge that grasp. Instead we keep all. Claiming time left as our own. And taking all of that to the last. Our kinship is retained because we all do the same. We then look around and wonder who is to blame. Why our self-actualisation feels unreached, as hollow as the pumpkin on the doorstep.

The golden rule for all self-actualisation stewards

There seems a golden thread of truth running through our shared history. Requiring us all to consider life from the other side. Perhaps all of those messages combine, and stand now not just in place but also in time.

Ask not what other projects can do for you. Ask yourself what project you can now do for the whole

Globally said from a golden thread

These are then projects | within projects connecting each mind to the totality of our management. Management of the one project we are all now required to play our part.

v | b | t – ask better questions for more insight

In game theory there is a game called Tragedy of the Commons. In it we are each shown to take more from common ground than we should, because the rules said that we could. The game reflects low trust, and shared bad behaviour. The long-game sees us all lose.

The solution starts with checking our own behaviour. But then increasing visibility on the whole, so that all behaviour is seen. In open sight we become compelled to do right. Trust in the shared objective becomes the shared trust in us all. The more secrets we can keep, the more compelled each feels, and entitled to cheat.

Question yourself, and therein question all others

It seems to me clear, that any of us sitting near the top of a hierarchy of needs is required to justify our time. Whether you are a Jeff Bezos or a Sheikh, a pension pot aggregator, or an executive on the make, born of privilege or humble beginnings and self-made. As individuals or as nation states. There are questions we need to ask of ourselves. Towards what, is your next project’s aim? Are you playing more than a zero sum game?

Infinite complexity, ultimate simplicity

The human condition is complex beyond measure. The systems of organisation we represent, a multiple of the same. But at the core there is a simplicity. We are mortal. We are fragile. And we will each always want more.

On this Halloween night perhaps give an extended nod to our forbearers. A moment of thanks to the shared sacrifice all have so far made. But tomorrow, the day we can all be saints, perhaps we each take stock of our time, and no more.

—//—

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

Are we the CoP out?

Conference of Parties #26

A blog linking infinite discussion and lines. Iterations of recurring themes that can get bigger or smaller, but will they always look the same?

Mandelbrot Sets

Netflix managed to have 55 minutes of my time tonight. Rare indeed these days. “The colours of infinity,” a 1995 film hosted by Arthur C Clarke. Explaining the discovery of a particular fractal geometry that surrounds us. Needing the computations of machines to help us observe what we have always blindly seen.

26 years of the same

It is a fantastic documentary from last century. Reflecting upon what is perhaps ever nearing us in this century, or the next. The mathematics that shows us how in nature there need be no straight lines. Not even necessarily any beginnings or ends. But that at whatever level we look, the patterns and basic formulas that can go to infinities all the same.

Filmed 26 years ago. By coincidence COP26, Conference of the Parties #26, is the same age. Perhaps also a coincidence that fractal symmetry seems the agenda mainstay of this event. The Kyoto Protocol was COP3, December 1997 but not ratified until 2005. Is it to be the “Glasgow Protocol” that our grandchildren’s children look upon with global pride – will this be the start of the change? I have dug out the two agendas and placed them side by side below. Fractal symmetry perhaps, but I am just not sure if we travel to infinitely bigger or infinitely smaller upon this path.

Projects | within Projects

Projects | Within Projects sits here as little more than an idea. But what it does reflect is one person’s attempt to redefine problems we all share. On scales that we can all compare. We are in the same project. We are each a project. And each moment another aggregation of projects our planet actor must wear.

To my mind and my perspective on management, this is just a question of scale. There is fractal symmetry in nature. We follow it everywhere. From the truncations of the tiniest capillaries in our brains and the neural networks that make us think we have a say. To the near infinite networks of galaxies beyond the milky-way. There is a pattern within the chaos, or a chaos within the pattern. Either way, we sit as a pin point in our abstract notions of time and space. One species on one world. Perhaps uniquely, perhaps too discretely, we are different. Different because we have some semblance of intent in what we change. In our momentary time frame, we get to direct, to learn, to grow. Choose to play. Choose to give our chance away. In the heat of this day we now choose to help, or we choose to fade away.

v | b | t

A project of change of behaviour. That is what our leaders speak of next week. Compared to the talk a generation before – what has changed in this rhetoric of change? But perhaps that is not just their question to answer. Perhaps it is not their visibility, and behaviour, or trust we need to ponder.

I am cynical. I am a hypocrite. But I am silent no more. The merry-go-round is easy to step off of when all privilege has fallen ones way. I am not gluing myself to a road. Or finding politics, or charitable ends to compensate for my guilt. My squandered inheritance is time. I am not alone. So the time I have left is aimed at asking better questions. Finding the better questions others in our history have asked. And hoping I get lucky in leaving a few better questions for others to help direct their future-generational task.

If we, the human project, are truly made to intend change. Perhaps it is this visibility we awaken. This goal to the future versions of ourselves we turn our behaviour toward. And from this, our present day, we present ourselves better. Turn ourselves to the service of this future. Rebuild this trust owed as future ancestors. Otherwise – what is this all really for?

Here is the CoP26 2021 agenda, alongside that of 1997. Regardless of its outcomes, maybe it is the personal agendas of us all, that are better answers to nature’s call.

COP3 Kyoto 1997

  • The Climate Change Convention seeks to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [human-induced] interference with the climate system”. There are three requirements: (1) this “ultimate objective” should be achieved early enough to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change; (2) food production should not be threatened; and (3) efforts to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and climate change should be consistent with sustainable economic development.
  • There is no agreed definition of what is meant by “dangerous”. Individuals and cultures differ in their understanding of what is safe and what is dangerous. In addition, some people and countries are more vulnerable to the expected consequences of climate change than are others. While science can provide a useful basis for decision-making, determining how much climate change is “safe” or how much risk is “acceptable” is essentially a political judgment. The judgment of the international community is expressed through the Conference of the Parties to the Convention.
  • The faster the climate changes, the greater the danger is likely to be. While human beings are extremely flexible and can cope with many different climates and conditions, human institutions and natural ecosystems tend to adapt more slowly. This is why the Convention specifically highlights the need to protect food production and ecosystems.
  • Certain ecological thresholds may be important indicators of the risks of rapid climate change. Such thresholds could be used to set policies for limiting the risk of irreversible damage. For example, paleoclimatic records of forest growth suggest that trees have migrated in the past by as much as four to 200 km in 100 years. But with scientists predicting that a global warming of 1–3.5oC over the next 100 years would shift climate zones poleward by 150–550 km, many tree populations may fail to adapt fast enough. Thus even if policymakers cannot agree on what constitutes a dangerous climate change for people, they may be able to identify dangerous thresholds for ecosystems that are vital to human well-being.
  • Food production may suffer in some regions. Changes in crop yields are expected to vary greatly by region and locality. Therefore, while global agricultural production may be maintained at or near the present level, the food security of some countries may worsen as a result of climate change. To the people affected this may well seem to be “dangerous”.
  • The overall implications of climate change for sustainable development are not well understood. While the net effect is expected to be negative, global warming is likely to have both positive and negative impacts on human societies, national economies, and natural ecosystems. A warmer climate could extend growing seasons in one region while increasing the risk of droughts in another. Similarly, new energy taxes and other policy responses may hurt some countries while energy-efficiency innovations may help others by reducing production costs and opening up new markets.
  • The Convention sets out a number of principles that should guide action to achieve the objective. They include equity between countries; concern for both present and future generations; the specific needs and special circumstances of developing countries; and the importance of cost-effectiveness, sustainable development, and a supportive and open international economic system. In addition, the precautionary principle states that where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, the lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing action.
  • The Convention requires policymakers to decide on concrete actions. The Parties to the Convention must come to some consensus on the changes that could be considered dangerous. They must choose the level at which they want to stabilize atmospheric concentrations, a schedule for limiting greenhouse gas emissions over time, and appropriate technologies and policies for meeting this schedule.
  • Fortunately, a wealth of knowledge and information is available to decision-makers. The scientific, technical, and socio-economic literature describes possible future scenarios and the likely consequences of various stabilization levels and emissions trends. It explores Ano regrets and other cost-effective measures for cutting emissions and enhancing “sinks”. The literature also describes options for adapting to climate change impacts and indicates promising avenues of scientific and technological research. By choosing amongst these policies and measures, and by carefully weighing costs and benefits, uncertainties and risks, and the various principles that should guide action, the international community can move towards achieving the Convention’s objective.

COP26 Glasgow 2021

The supplementary provisional agenda for COP 26, proposed after consultation with
the President of COP 25, is as follows:

  1. Opening of the session.
  2. Organizational matters:
    (a) Election of the President of the Conference of the Parties at its twenty-sixth session;
    (b) Adoption of the rules of procedure;
    (c) Adoption of the agenda;
    (d) Election of officers other than the President;
    (e) Admission of organizations as observers; (f) Organization of work, including for the sessions of the subsidiary bodies; (g) Dates and venues of future sessions; (h) Adoption of the report on credentials.
  1. Reports of the subsidiary bodies:
    (a) Report of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice;
    (b) Report of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation.
  2. Reporting from and review of Parties included in Annex I to the Convention.
  3. Reporting from Parties not included in Annex I to the Convention.
  4. Report of the Adaptation Committee (for 2019, 2020 and 2021).
  5. Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with
    Climate Change Impacts.2
  6. Matters relating to finance:
    (a) Long-term climate finance;
    (b) Matters relating to the Standing Committee on Finance:
    (i) Report of the Standing Committee on Finance – Convention
    matters;
    (ii) First report on the determination of the needs of developing
    country Parties related to implementing the Convention and the
    Paris Agreement;
    (iii) Fourth (2020) Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate
    Finance Flows;
    (iv) Review of the functions of the Standing Committee on Finance;
    (c) Report of the Green Climate Fund to the Conference of the Parties and
    guidance to the Green Climate Fund (for 2020 and 2021);
    (d) Report of the Global Environment Facility to the Conference of the
    Parties and guidance to the Global Environment Facility (for 2020 and
    2021);
    (e) Seventh review of the Financial Mechanism;
    (f) Compilation and synthesis of, and summary report on the in-session
    workshop on, biennial communications of information related to
    Article 9, paragraph 5, of the Paris Agreement.
  7. Development and transfer of technologies:
    (a) Joint annual report of the Technology Executive Committee and the
    Climate Technology Centre and Network (for 2020 and 2021);
    (b) Linkages between the Technology Mechanism and the Financial
    Mechanism of the Convention;
    (c) Review of the constitution of the Advisory Board of the Climate
    Technology Centre and Network;
    (d) Second review of the Climate Technology Centre and Network.
  8. Capacity-building under the Convention.
  9. Matters relating to the least developed countries.
  10. Report of the forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures.
  1. Gender and climate change.
  2. Consideration of proposals by Parties for amendments to the Convention under
    Article 15:
    (a) Proposal from the Russian Federation to amend Article 4, paragraph
    2(f), of the Convention;
    (b) Proposal from Papua New Guinea and Mexico to amend Articles 7 and
    18 of the Convention;
    (c) Proposal from Turkey to delete the name of Turkey from the list in
    Annex I to the Convention.
  3. Second review of the adequacy of Article 4, paragraph 2(a–b), of the
    Convention.
  4. Equitable, fair, ambitious and urgent real emission reductions now consistent
    with a trajectory to reduce the temperature below 1.5 °C.
  5. All matters of adaptation.
  6. Achieving equitable geographic representation in the composition of
    constituted bodies under the Convention.
  7. Administrative, financial and institutional matters:
    (a) Audit report and financial statements for 2019 and 2020;
    (b) Budget performance for the bienniums 2018–2019 and 2020–2021;
    (c) Programme budget for the biennium 2022–2023;
    (d) Decision-making in the UNFCCC process.
  8. High-level segment:
    (a) Statements by Parties;
    (b) Statements by observer organizations.
  9. Other matters.
  10. Conclusion of the session:
    (a) Adoption of the draft report of the Conference of the Parties on its
    twenty-sixth session;
    (b) Closure of the session.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

Earth as both project actor and frame

Project Actors

All projects include at least one actor, being the project initiator.  This as a human intervention, or a failure to do so.

A second actor is also always present. Passive or at least not consulted. This second actor is our environment. It is both a project actor, and the framework in which all of our projects reside. At least until we find the means to be independent of physical constraints, or the environment responds in ways in which we cannot manage or survive.

This is an extract from my page offering a definition of a project, as “time bound intended change“. This definition is presented as a way to compare projects from a wider sphere of thinking. This includes a necessary demand on any project initiator to have all project actors included within their core framework of control. Each actor’s wellbeing (meaning to have expectation to be better, not worse off at project end) each equally held in importance to any other. An extension of this concept is the well-being of the environment.

Given the urgency of the hour, this seems a timely moment to be trying to find project models that have our environment necessarily central to all decisions and control frameworks we demand.

If the whole human project is to be defined by these same parameters, it is the planet that becomes our framework housing our project – at least for now…

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: