In a recent blog, I revealed myself to be a systems thinking geek. I believe that there are two systems thinking concepts that can explain the sociological component of the climate crisis in which we currently find ourselves. I explain them below.
The Boiled Frog Syndrome
Have you ever heard it said that if you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, she will immediately hop out and save herself. But, if you put her in a pot of lukewarm water and slowly turn up the heat, she will stay in the water until it boils, and she will perish.
The frog story can be represented using a system’s diagram technique called causal loop diagrams (see above). In the Paris Agreement we set a goal to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees. When we compare our actual progress to our goal, there is a gap.
We can address the gap in one of two ways: take corrective action (the B1 loop) or lower the goal (the B2 loop). We know that we must take corrective action to address climate change, or we will end up like the frog. What is stopping us?
The Tragedy of the Commons1
What is stopping us is another systems concept called the tragedy of the commons. Below is a technical explanation and a causal loop diagram. But in a nutshell: when something, like climate change, is everybody’s problem, it ends up being no one’s problem.
1 Kim, D. ( ?) Systems Archetypes at a Glance. Pegasus Communications, Westford, MA.
We need to find a way to resolve the tragedy of the commons in order to muster the political will to take corrective action to resolve climate change. The box above offers a clue on how to do that. It states, “A governing body that is chartered with the sustainability of the resource (i.e. the planet) can help.”
In our case, that governing body would probably be the United Nations. It is for this reason that we have created a new tab on this website called Resources. If you go to that tab, you will find many UN documents dealing with the climate crisis. Many thanks to the CCPP webmaster for this valuable addition.