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Advancing towards the unknown

Advancing towards the unknown

Why we're living in an age of fundamental uncertainty, how we should deal with this fact, and what kind of social activism exemplifies that approach. (Talk at Urgentem Encounters, September 2020)

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Wolfgang Wopperer-Beholz

September 04, 2020
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Transcript

  1. Advancing towards the unknown How to deal with fundamental uncertainty

    Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  2. Uncertainty 2 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  3. 2 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

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  9. 3 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  10. How do we navigate this? 3 Advancing towards the unknown

    Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  11. Advancing towards the unknown Earth System 4 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  12. 5 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Steffen et

    al. (2018): ”Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene” Our analysis focuses on the strength of the feedback between now and 2100. However, several of the feedbacks that show negligible or very small magnitude by 2100 could nevertheless be triggered well before then, and they could eventually generate significant feedback strength over longer timeframes—centuries and even millennia—and thus, influence the long-term trajectory of the Earth System. These feedback processes include perma- frost thawing, decomposition of ocean methane hydrates, in- creased marine bacterial respiration, and loss of polar ice sheets accompanied by a rise in sea levels and potential amplification of temperature rise through changes in ocean circulation (33). Tipping Cascades. Fig. 3 shows a global map of some potential tipping cascades. The tipping elements fall into three clusters based on their estimated threshold temperature (12, 17, 39). Cascades could be formed when a rise in global temperature reaches the level of the lower-temperature cluster, activating tipping elements, such as loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet or Arctic sea ice. These tipping elements, along with some of the non- tipping element feedbacks (e.g., gradual weakening of land and ocean physiological carbon sinks), could push the global average Fig. 3. Global map of potential tipping cascades. The individual tipping elements are color- coded according to estimated thresholds in global average surface temperature (tipping points) (12, 34). Arrows show the potential interactions among the tipping elements based on expert elicitation that could generate cascades. Note that, although the risk for tipping (loss of) the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is proposed at >5 °C, some marine-based sectors in East Antarctica may be vulnerable at lower temperatures (35–38).
  13. 5 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Steffen et

    al. (2018): ”Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene” irre hum the thre cre tha with a p the del par syst Ear side Fee Bio infl can can Fig. 2. Stability landscape showing the pathway of the Earth System out of the Holocene and thus, out of the glacial–interglacial limit cycle to its present position in the hotter Anthropocene. The fork in the road in Fig. 1 is shown here as the two divergent pathways of the Earth System in the future (broken arrows). Currently, the Earth System is on a Hothouse Earth pathway driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and biosphere degradation toward a planetary threshold at ∼2 °C (horizontal broken line at 2 °C in Fig. 1), beyond which Our analysis focuses on the strength of the feedback between now and 2100. However, several of the feedbacks that show negligible or very small magnitude by 2100 could nevertheless be triggered well before then, and they could eventually generate significant feedback strength over longer timeframes—centuries and even millennia—and thus, influence the long-term trajectory of the Earth System. These feedback processes include perma- frost thawing, decomposition of ocean methane hydrates, in- creased marine bacterial respiration, and loss of polar ice sheets accompanied by a rise in sea levels and potential amplification of temperature rise through changes in ocean circulation (33). Tipping Cascades. Fig. 3 shows a global map of some potential tipping cascades. The tipping elements fall into three clusters based on their estimated threshold temperature (12, 17, 39). Cascades could be formed when a rise in global temperature reaches the level of the lower-temperature cluster, activating tipping elements, such as loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet or Arctic sea ice. These tipping elements, along with some of the non- tipping element feedbacks (e.g., gradual weakening of land and ocean physiological carbon sinks), could push the global average Fig. 3. Global map of potential tipping cascades. The individual tipping elements are color- coded according to estimated thresholds in global average surface temperature (tipping points) (12, 34). Arrows show the potential interactions among the tipping elements based on expert elicitation that could generate cascades. Note that, although the risk for tipping (loss of) the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is proposed at >5 °C, some marine-based sectors in East Antarctica may be vulnerable at lower temperatures (35–38).
  14. Self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary

    threshold that, if crossed, could cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. 6 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Steffen et al. (2018): ”Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene”
  15. The intervention time left to prevent tipping could already have

    shrunk towards zero, whereas the reaction time to achieve net zero emissions is 30 years at best. Hence we might already have lost control. 7 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Lenton et al. (2019): ”Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against”
  16. Advancing towards the unknown Socioeconomic System 8 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  17. 9 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Otto et

    al. (2020): “Social tipping dynamics for stabilizing Earth’s climate by 2050“ ≈ ≈ Fig. 3. Social tipping elements (STEs) and associated social tipping interventions (STIs) with the potential to drive rapid decarbonization in the World–Earth system. The processes they represent unfold across levels of social structure on widely different timescales, ranging from the fast dynamics of market exchanges and resource allocation on subannual timescales to the slow decadal- to centennial-scale changes on the level of customs, values, and social norms (51).
  18. Incremental linear changes to the socioeconomic system are not enough

    to stabilize the Earth System. Widespread, rapid, and fundamental transformations will likely be required to reduce the risk of crossing the threshold and locking in the Hothouse Earth pathway. 10 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Steffen et al. (2018): ”Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene”
  19. If we choose to preserve the biosphere, it means that

    we must stop the mad race of our civilisation within a few months, which would amount to an intentional social and economic collapse. 1 1 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 https://www.resilience.org/stories/2020-08-05/deep-adaptation-opens-up-a-necessary-conversation-about-the-breakdown-of-civilisation/
  20. Advancing towards the unknown Strategic Choices 12 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  21. The Collapse Dilemma 13 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters

    04/09/2020
  22. The Collapse Dilemma Business as usual ➔ collapse via climate

    13 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  23. The Collapse Dilemma Business as usual ➔ collapse via climate

    System change ➔ collapse via economy 13 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  24. The Collapse Dilemma Business as usual ➔ collapse via climate

    System change ➔ collapse via economy Other options? 13 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  25. Advancing towards the unknown Fundamental uncertainty in all dimensions: physical,

    socioeconomic, strategic 14 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  26. No evolved solutions 15 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters

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  27. No evolved solutions No historical data 15 Advancing towards the

    unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  28. No evolved solutions No historical data No adequate models 15

    Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  29. 16 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Climate-economic models

    and forward- looking risk analysis will not suffice to provide all the information required to hedge against “green swan” events. Bolton et al. (2020), The green swan. Central banking and financial stability in the age of climate change
  30. Advancing towards the unknown Unknown unknowns 17 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  31. Advancing towards the unknown Multi-ontology sensemaking 18 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  32. Advancing towards the unknown 19 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 https://www.cognitive-edge.com/blog/cynefin-st-davids-day-2020-1-of-n/

  33. Advancing towards the unknown 19 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 https://www.cognitive-edge.com/blog/cynefin-st-davids-day-2020-1-of-n/

  34. Advancing towards the unknown 19 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 https://www.cognitive-edge.com/blog/cynefin-st-davids-day-2020-1-of-n/

  35. Advancing towards the unknown 19 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 https://www.cognitive-edge.com/blog/cynefin-st-davids-day-2020-1-of-n/

  36. Advancing towards the unknown 19 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 https://www.cognitive-edge.com/blog/cynefin-st-davids-day-2020-1-of-n/

  37. Advancing towards the unknown 19 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 https://www.cognitive-edge.com/blog/cynefin-st-davids-day-2020-1-of-n/

  38. 20 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 From risk

    management to building the resilience of complex adaptive systems that will be impacted in one way or another by climate change. Bolton et al. (2020), The green swan. Central banking and financial stability in the age of climate change
  39. Advancing towards the unknown Changing whole systems 21 Urgentem Encounters

    04/09/2020
  40. FIGURE 2. From network dynamics to epigenetic landscape and attractors.

    A. Pedagogical example of a 2-gene network (mutual inhibition of genes A and B) and Manuscript NIH-PA Author Manuscript NIH-PA Author Ma 22 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Huang et al. (2009): ”Cancer attractors: A systems view of tumors from a gene network dynamics and developmental perspective”
  41. 23 23 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 https://www.cognitive-edge.com/blog/cynefin-st-davids-day-2020-1-of-n/

  42. 23 23 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 https://www.cognitive-edge.com/blog/cynefin-st-davids-day-2020-1-of-n/

  43. 24 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 rop- alth”

    at is, ernal sure ty of ot to ce of y to rop- the ility, ther ivid- onal Gun- rties Figure 4. A stylized representation of the four ecosystem functions (r, K, ⍀, ␣) and the flow of events among them. The arrows show the speed of the flow in the cycle. Short, closely spaced arrows indicate a slowly changing situa- tion; long arrows indicate a rapidly changing situation. The cycle reflects changes in two properties: the y axis (the potential that is inherent in the accumulated re- sources of biomass and nutrients) and the x axis (the Holling (2001), “Understanding the Complexity of Economic, Ecological, and Social Systems”
  44. 24 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 rop- alth”

    at is, ernal sure ty of ot to ce of y to rop- the ility, ther ivid- onal Gun- rties Figure 4. A stylized representation of the four ecosystem functions (r, K, ⍀, ␣) and the flow of events among them. The arrows show the speed of the flow in the cycle. Short, closely spaced arrows indicate a slowly changing situa- tion; long arrows indicate a rapidly changing situation. The cycle reflects changes in two properties: the y axis (the potential that is inherent in the accumulated re- sources of biomass and nutrients) and the x axis (the and others 2001). The Soviet Union is a societal example of accumulated rigidities that precipitate a sudden collapse. The proximate agents of distur- bance in these cases can be stakeholder revolts, public-interest attacks through the legal system, or more extreme societal revolts. The phase from ⍀ to ␣ is a period of rapid reor- ganization during which novel recombinations can unexpectedly seed experiments that lead to inno- vations in the next cycle. The economist J. A. Schumpeter (1950) appropriately called this phase “creative destruction.” Initially, the “front loop” of the trajectory, from r to K, becomes progressively more predictable as it develops. In contrast, the “back loop” of the adaptive cycle, from ⍀ to ␣, is inherently unpredictable and highly uncertain. At that stage, the previously accumulated mutations, inventions, external invaders, and capital can be- come reassorted into novel combinations, some of which nucleate new opportunity. It is as if two separate objectives are functioning, but in sequence. The first maximizes production Figure 5. Resilience is another dimension of the adaptive cycle. A third dimension, resilience, is added to the two- dimensional box of Figure 4 to show how resilience ex- Understanding Complex Systems 395 Holling (2001), “Understanding the Complexity of Economic, Ecological, and Social Systems”
  45. Advancing towards the unknown That’s what XR is aiming to

    do. 25 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  46. 26 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Otto et

    al. (2020): “Social tipping dynamics for stabilizing Earth’s climate by 2050“ Level of decarbonization Social complexities Stability Social tipping interventions Decarbonized state Business-as-usual state Low High A B g. 2. The concept of decarbonization transformation as social tipping dynamics. As illustrated in A by an abstract stab ocioeconomic system today is trapped in a valley where it still depends heavily on burning fossil fuels, leading to high missions. STIs have the potential to erode the barrier through triggering social tipping dynamics in different sectors (Fig. 3)
  47. 27 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Shifting the

    Overton Window
  48. 28 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Stressing the

    system
  49. 29 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Creating a

    Liminal Space
  50. 30 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Conjuring a

    new attractor
  51. Advancing towards the unknown Charting a course between rigidity and

    chaos 31 Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  52. 32 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  53. 33 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

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    ZOPW =Pɫ ZPVUPUN -HJPSP[H[VY )\KNL[ /VSKLY >LZ[4PKSHUKZ <2:\WWVY[ 3VJHS.YV\WZ ;OL5VY[O :V\[O>LZ[ ,UNSHUK :V\[O,HZ[ ,UNSHUK 5VY[O,HZ[ *\TIYPH 365+65 ,HZ[VM,UNSHUK ,HZ[4PKSHUKZ *`TY\>HSLZ ?9<2 9LILS/P]L ;58.5HEHO+LYH ;58.5HEHO+LYH 34 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  55. 35 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  56. Advancing towards the unknown How to avoid closed worlds 36

    Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020
  57. 37 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 http://www.spencerauthor.com/can-you-force-collaboration/

  58. 38 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  59. 39 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  60. 40 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020

  61. Advancing towards the unknown Pools of Madness 41 Urgentem Encounters

    04/09/2020
  62. 42 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 (a) environment

    1 (b) environment 2 (c) environment 3 (d) environment 4 (e) environment 5 (f) environment 6 Brennan et al. (2017): “Variety Is the Spice of Life: Irrational Behavior as Adaptation to Stochastic Environments“
  63. 43 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Social Movements

  64. 43 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Social Movements

  65. 44 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Organisations

  66. 44 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Organisations

  67. 45 Advancing towards the unknown Urgentem Encounters 04/09/2020 Thank you.

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