I know that political observers are calling the UN climate summit COP26 a success, at least in the modest light of the progress made by governments around the world in recent years. However, while substantial progress has been made in Glasgow, this has not been enough to slow the rate of global warming to the level scientists deem necessary to stop catastrophic climate change. That is why, as I listened to the news this week, I recalled a speech given by Winston Churchill in the House of Commons in May 1935:
When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is completely out of control we too late apply the remedies which could then have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It’s as old as the cryptic books. It falls into this long and dismal catalog of the sterility of experience and the confirmed incapacity of humanity. Lack of foresight, reluctance to act when the action would be simple and effective, lack of lucidity, confusion of advice until the emergency arises, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong, such are the characteristics that make up the endless repetition of history.
Churchill spoke, of course, of Britain’s need to rearm itself in the face of the growing fascist threat, but every word he said is as true today in the face of that challenge as it was then in the face of it. to that one.
When I started working on my book Red team Seven years ago this month, it was to fight against this lack of foresight, this lack of lucidity, this confusion of advice as common in business as in government. The Red Team Decision Support methodology that I have described in this book was created by the military and intelligence agencies to deal with an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous operational environment. and the kind of perverse problems that result from it.
There is no bigger problem than climate change.
All over the world, water sources are drying up, storms are becoming more violent and destructive, coastal areas are inundated, and forest fires are burning with unprecedented intensity and spread. The means to solve these problems are well known: reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stopping the destruction of tropical forests.
These stages are as clear and unambiguous as the production of airplanes, tanks and firearms in the 1930s.
Yet doing these things is difficult. It requires a level of political will that most nations are unable, or at least unwilling, to muster. This forces companies to adjust their business models and consumers to change their behavior. Compared to asking a people who had lost over a million sons, fathers, brothers and husbands in a great war a few years before to rearm and prepare for another, it may not seem like such a daunting task. Unfortunately, in our milder times, it is.
So the problem is not what to do about climate change, but how to do it.
I believe the red team can help. The opposing and critical thinking techniques he employs can help policymakers not only uncover weaknesses in their current strategies, but also develop new and original options for consideration. Other red teaming tools can help political leaders understand how different constituencies are likely to respond to these options and tailor them to proactively address potential objections and increase the likelihood that they will be accepted, if not adopted. And the liberating structures offered by red teaming can promote the diversity of thought that is so clearly lacking in this field today.
Governments have used the Red Teams for years to wage war and counter terrorist threats. It’s time for them to start teaming up with climate change as well.