The Azimuth Project
Plan C (Rev #3, changes)

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Idea

Plan C, which is not yet developed, aims to be a realistic strategy for tackling global warming, peak oil, and other related problems.

There are many similar-sounding plans already listed here and analyzed under Plans of action. So, why do we need yet another?

We believe that many of these plans are extremely optimistic: they assume that most people will change their behavior in dramatic ways before problems become very serious.

We believe that while optimism is a crucial part of any successful endeavor, it is also good to have a backup plan that assumesplausibly suboptimal behavior on the part of the human race. Typically, people only take dramatic action insofar as conditions appear to be getting rapidly worse. In the case of slowly progressing problems like climate change and the depletion of oil reserves, the situation will only become rapidly worse at a fairly late stage. This is the assumption behind Plan C.

In his book Plan B, Lester Brown used the term “Plan A” to stand for “business as usual”. He introduced the term “Plan B” for his strategy to solve the problems caused by business as usual. Time magazine explains the idea in simple terms:

Brown lays out an alternate path that could save us from the worst consequences of climate change. At the heart is a call to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions 80% by 2020 — far more aggressive than anything you’ll hear from political leaders or even most activists. It’s an ambitious plan, one that is less concerned with political feasibility than the survivability of the planet. “This is not Plan A, business as usual,” Brown writes. “This is Plan B — a wartime mobilization, an all-out response proportionate to the threat that global warming presents to our future.”

The engineer Saul Griffith has posed the problem in a similar way, saying:

It’s not like the Manhattan Project, it’s like the whole of World War II, only with all the antagonists on the same side this time. It’s damn near impossible, but it is necessary. And the world has to decide to do it.

He estimates that to hold carbon dioxide concentrations to an acceptable level, we will have to reduce the fossil fuel burning by 80% in 25 years, or it will be “too late”.

However, anybody who seriously believes that we will reduce carbon dioxide emissions 80% by 2020 or even 2035 is living in a dream world: a world populated by people who already accept that we are in the midst of a crisis and are willing to make dramatic changes in their behavior, starting now. This is not the world we see today. Most citizens do not currently see the problem as analogous to World War II.

If 2020 or 2035 rolls around and we are far from making the changes called for by Lester Brown and or Saul Griffith, we may need “Plan C”.

category: action