Thursday, August 07, 2008

Warm War I

It's amazing to me that an effort such as the one convened by the Center for a New American Security (described below) to weigh climate change options would be designed within a traditional (and terribly confining) 'War Games' framework as opposed to Bucky Fuller's more constructive and hopeful World Game option. The World Game is a tool that facilitates a comprehensive, anticipatory, design science approach to the problems of the world.

The 'Climate War Game' assumes that a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is played against a "business-as-usual" scenario. It seems a sure-fire recipe for unavoidable global conflicts.
In this regard it seems very similar to an exercise called Oil Shockwave -- the brainchild of another think-tank called Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE).

A World Game session (as conceived by Bucky) would have been more productive by including participants capable of offering viable alternatives to the status-quo, thereby inspiring discussions about what it would take to produce real win-win solutions that lead to a world that could "work for everyone".

A very radical concept indeed. (GW)

Climate war games

Role-play negotiations test the outcomes of global warming.

More than 40 negotiators from Asia, Europe and the United States converged on Washington DC last week for what was billed as the first major war game involving global warming.

The Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based national-security think tank, gathered together climate scientists and experts in security, environmental policy and business for the role-playing exercise. Each was assigned to one of four teams, representing Europe, the United States, China and India, and charged with negotiating the best deal for their team.

Under the scenario, set in 2015, greenhouse-gas emissions are rising, and the latest climate models paint a grim picture of the future if business were to continue as usual. Extreme weather, including droughts, storms and floods, is on the rise. The United Nations is calling for international cooperation on emissions reductions, adaptation, disaster relief and shortages of crucial resources such as food and water.

Conference organizers worked with scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee who provided a climate simulation up to 2100 based on the worst-case scenario proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This scenario mixes rapid growth with continued reliance on fossil fuels — something the organizers say is reasonable, given that emissions are currently trending higher than projected.

After lengthy negotiations, the United States and the Europe Union agreed to a 30% reduction in emissions by 2025. They also agreed to finance a portion of the emissions reductions by the developing world. But China refused to accept any specific emissions targets. India committed itself to reductions, but only with a number of contingencies. In a sad mirror of reality, the participants departed after three days without the comprehensive agreement many had been hoping for.

“If it were easy it wouldn’t be realistic, because these are not easy issues,” says Reid Detchon, a US team member and executive director for energy and climate at the United Nations Foundation in Washington DC. Detchon credits the exercise with “exposing some of the tensions” in the debate — particularly on the China team, which included members from China.

“I was just struck by the enormity of the challenge before us,” says Todd Stern, a partner with the law firm WilmerHale based in Washington DC and a senior negotiator under US President Bill Clinton during negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol. “The notion of large reductions from the Chinese perspective seems absolutely undoable.”

War-game organizers say the exercise was intended to engage people with the science and with potential solutions, and to make them test their assumptions in a dynamic situation. From this perspective, they say, the process can be illuminating even if the results are of limited value.

Most participants agree, although Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Arlington, Virginia, says the negotiations, although intense, were not at all representative of what one might expect from India and China in the forthcoming United Nations talks. India would be unlikely to agree so quickly to an emissions-reduction proposal, she says, and China would be unlikely to come to the table empty-handed.

And as a veteran in this arena whose experi­ence in real treaty negotiations dates back to the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting gases two decades ago, Claussen says her participation was geared more towards educating others. “My guess is many people learned something from this, but for me it was community service,” she says.


Post a Comment

<< Home