This film introduces Carbon language as a political theory of effective climate mitigation. [For short film versions, jump to minutes ~27:27 or 58:08. The pdf version is online under: carbonlaw.eu/currentversion]
This trailer is the cinematic introduction to a draft paper on climate change and artificial intelligence (AI) as truly existential mutually dependent global governance risks. Analyzed in isolation, both may remain unsolved in theory precisely because they are unprecedented; or, even if solved in theory, at least unmitigated in practice. Yet mitigation is an implementation, not only a theory, problem; analyzed together, climate and AI may become solvable at least in theory. The link between both problems suggested here is, at its root: language. In substance, both problems are linked in their governance structures: Both are time-delayed legal collective action problems. Climate change and AI are linked through significant feedback effects because all technology, including future human-level artificial general intelligence (AGI), is located in the climate system. We can therefore use a climate perspective to learn about (future) technology. And nearly all climate-relevant decision-making processes even today involve AI in some form. We can use tech perspectives to learn about future dynamics of climate-relevant (in)action. Future research, to which this film only serves as somewhat self-ironic introduction, will focus on the idea of time and use music as an example of learning language. On a more somber note, this film asks the one question that a solipsist linguistic theory will never be able to ask (because no questions are possible anymore after the Self extinguishes itself): Taking the example of David Buckel, an architect of the freedom to marry and marriage equality movement, who burnt himself to death in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, in April 2018 in the first political self-immolation in the U.S. in the name of climate change. This may strike some as overly doomy or not helpful, but facing reality is the only way to change it, and film/music or other time-based media can offer outlooks and convey emotions that go beyond mere words and logic.
Why treat systemic problems so systematically? Why not leave larger-than-human challenges aside, to focus on manageable problems that individuals can realistically solve? This film argues that only if, and in as far as, we seek to empathize within the limits of our respective languages in order to understand other individuals’ decisions – here the final decision of one lawyer in New York – can we then claim the ethical and intellectual license to ask questions about the fates of literally billions of people, as we do and must in climate policy. Over the coming decade, those who take truly climate-relevant decisions in legal, political, and economic systems around the globe will effectively decide how much of Earth will eventually become become uninhabitable how fast. Not “we” – the mythical we of climate communications – will take the truly relevant decisions, but a small group of legislators, policymakers, and investors, all of whom act under certain binding legal norms. This is the context in which “norms” and “language” are used in this research.
This website is a link repository of carbon language: It can be used to visualize future impacts of climate-relevant (in)action by States today.
– It illustrates language as evolving, non-linear, networked knowledge;
– to make it more fluid (Kelly 2016: “Process not product”); in order to
– find ways to prototype and scale diverse forms of expression rapidly in iterations (Design thinking art & science: “failing faster”).
The website is testing effective frames for climate arguments (“grounding knowledge in the climate to solve non-climate problems”; e.g. here: AI). The pdf version is updated in real time and free to use.
Here the first paragraphs (pages 2/3 of the pdf version) as a short film:
MIT: View of downtown Boston in a 4°C world. The high-tide line is 8.24 m (27 ft) above 2000 levels. This is only an extreme sea-level rise scenario (RCP8.5 without inevitable West Antarctic collapse). It excludes riverine flooding, storm surges, and land subsidence.
Center front: MIT’s 6 MW underwater nuclear test reactor, still running on highly-enriched (~weapons-grade) uranium today.
GoogleEarth animations: NOAA data is modeled by ClimateCentral to visualize sea-level rise (SLR) in coastal cities worldwide in a klm Google Earth layer for 1.5°C, 2°C, 3°C, and 4°C worlds. These are equilibrium (!) not process models, i.e. they are timeless. For the contiguous U.S. a process perspective is visualized for an extreme RCP8.5 scenario for 2100 (klm layer per download link top right).
Harvard Business School: View of Cambridge in a 4°C world. The high-tide line here is up to 10.07 m (33 ft) above 2000 levels. Again, without riverine flooding, storm surges, and land subsidence.
Front: The ~400 kW rooftop solar PV at HBS show that effective mitigation won’t mean technology alone but changing society; and that even innovative urban-scale thought today falls short by far.