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Read the following: Andre (Chapter 1)Gude (87-106)Shahzad, Burhan, Ghaffour, & Ng (268-277, 435)Read Gude and Shahzad et al. Drawing on our readings on scientific and media literacy (especially André, 2019), describe what useful knowledge you can take away from these two articles. How might the media be likely to misrepresent some of these findings? Use the website below for additional resources words minimum


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Leading as If the Planet Matters
Five Practices for Optimizing Decisions on Climate and Energy
Rae André, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Leadership and Sustainability
D’Amore-McKim School of Business
Northeastern University
[email protected]
© Rae André, 2019
Leading as If the Planet Matters
Introduction: Team Humanity
The Climate Leadership Conversation
What Motivates Climate Leaders?
The Five Practices of Climate Leaders
1 The Truth
Truth is Personal
Truth is Social
Leading with System 1
Leading with System 2
Finding the Right Mix
What is Scientific Truth, Really?
Science Meets Politics
Reading Science as a Non-Scientist
Access to Science
Truth Interpreters
Consuming Climate Journalism
Power and Point of View
2 The Risks
Risk Perception
Applying Psychology to Risk Management
Risk as Punishment
Risk versus Uncertainty
Modeling Risk and Reward
The Carbon Model
Scenarios and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Risks for the Planet
Leading as If the Planet Matters
Risks for Communities
Risks for Society
Professional Risk Management
No Excuses
3 The Stakes
The Energy Sector
The Oil Sector
Oil Depletion and Exploration
Evolving Business Models
Regulation and Nationalization
The Natural Gas Sector
The Coal Sector
The Renewable Energy Sector
The Grid
The Mixed Resource Future
Energy for Communities: Lexington, Massachusetts
Energy for Communities: North Dakota
Energy for the World’s Most Vulnerable
Community Energy Jobs
The Stag Hunt Dilemma
Systemic Imagination and Ethics
The Role of Government
4 The Business of Business
Traditional Goals versus Planetary Goals
Save Money
Motivate and Retain Employees
Build Marketing Advantage
Leading as If the Planet Matters
Build Strategic Advantage
Goals for the Planet
The Chief Sustainability Officer
Climate Leader Burnout
Building Company Climate Scenarios
Assessing a Company’s Sustainability Culture
Sustainability Exemplars
Ray Anderson and the Transition to Systemic Leadership
Educating Leaders for Strong Sustainability
Top Managers’ Organizational and Systemic Roles
5 Global Leadership
Setting Global Goals
The Grown-Up Conversation about Energy Goals
The Global Carbon Budget
Solutions: Carbon Fees and Carbon Taxes
Solutions: Cap and Trade
Roadblock: Climate Goals Meet Global Politics
The Theory and Future of Rationing
Enter: Ecological Economics
Can Capitalism Evolve?
It’s the System
Global Systemic Vision
Convince: We Can Do It
Inspire: Are We Cooperative or Competitive?
Harnessing Competition
Conclusion: The Plan
Leading as If the Planet Matters
Team Humanity Gets Its Grade
To come: Acknowledgments*
Leading as If the Planet Matters
Team Humanity
We hear a lot these days about the what and the why of planetary change. Yes, climate change is
happening, and humans are causing it by burning fossil fuels. Yes, it’s melting the Arctic and
causing disruptions across the globe. And, yes, it’s accelerating.
We hear a lot less about the who and the how – about the leaders and organizations that are
taking on our climate and energy challenges. Until recently, discussion about how humanity can
organize to deal with disruptive climate change has taken a backseat to the essential project of
convincing the world that the change is real. Now most of the world already understands that
reality, and concerned citizens are thinking about who is leading and organizing and how
humanity is going to get this thing done.
So, while they continue to follow climate and energy developments, engaged citizens are also
asking questions about how humanity is addressing them: What do leaders know now about
climate and energy? What more must they know? How can understanding human behavior and
systems help leaders craft the best possible decisions and change strategies? What are leaders
going to do?
These concerns come down to one fundamental question: Will Team Humanity step up to save
the planet?
You may be familiar with the optical illusion in which, if you squint at the drawing of an old
woman, she turns into a young one. This illusion shows the interaction between figure (what a
person is seeing now), and ground (what a person is not seeing now, but which is still there).
When people ponder climate and energy, they habitually experience scientific findings as figure,
and potential solutions as ground. This book flips this view so that the solutions become figure.
We already know a lot about what natural science predicts for the future of the planet. Now it is
time to prioritize how our own human psychology factors in, and to use that knowledge to
advance the practice of climate leadership.
Leading as if the planet matters means protecting people, and the natural systems we all depend
on, by sensibly managing environmental challenges. Among humanity’s biggest concerns today
are the twin issues of climate change and energy evolution. The burning of fossil fuels, which
escalated with the introduction of powered machines in the late 19th century, is accelerating
worldwide due to population growth and improved living standards. It is warming the planet. To
address these facts, and because the Earth’s store of fossil fuels is finite, our transition from
fossil fuels to other sources of energy is fitfully but assuredly underway. Across the planet,
responsible people are gearing up to unleash the creativity and innovation that will fuel this
Many social scientists have written about how leaders in organizations and societies make
decisions under challenging circumstances. This book draws on that social science, and also
applies the lenses of societal systems and power, to examine what these leaders are doing now
and how we all might make better decisions going forward.
Leading as If the Planet Matters
The Climate Leadership Conversation
Today leaders for the planet are beginning to participate in a wide-ranging conversation about
how people can solve problems together across all levels of society. They are embracing
systemic leadership, which examines how people act and influence each other in a perpetual loop
of action and feedback.1 Systemic leaders understand how individuals are motivated, but also
who society’s powerful actors are, and how societal sectors wield influence. They are
predisposed to think beyond individual psychology to the design of human systems.
Systemic leadership emphasizes that the nature of a problem and the details of its context both
matter. When systems leaders ponder how they should talk to their followers about science, they
know they must also understand both how their audiences perceive truth and how society
influences those perceptions. When they face the conflict between the fossil fuel and renewable
energy sectors, they strive to understand the stakes for each sector and for the broader economy.
In a world that is changing quickly and perhaps drastically, it may seem self-evident that leaders
should emphasize such systemic analysis and determined action: Climate leadership is systemic
leadership. Yet, for many decades, the conversation about leadership theory has been dominated
by competency theory, which studies mainly individual traits and skills. The competency
approach was developed to promote leadership within organizations, especially business
organizations, and it has been adopted globally. Originating in the United States during the 20th
century, its main application has been to help companies identify and train high potential
individuals. However, the competency approach ignores how leaders think and act in real time
and in groups.2 When applied to leadership for environmental sustainability, its focus on static
traits and behaviors downplays moral stewardship. In particular, it gives short shrift to the ideas
that morality in organizations emerges in conversations among their members and that it is
subject to societal influences. Its focus on individuals also minimizes the importance of the
emotional connections and relationship-building that help human beings work together in
systems. 3 Leaders for the planet have to do much more.
Systemic leadership is based on several principles. The first is that individuals are embedded
within social systems. Much like Russian nesting dolls, we humans exist within our families and
our work organizations and our national and international institutions, and all these systems are
embedded in the natural world. Climate change and energy evolution are system-wide issues that
need system-wide solutions. Our leaders must undertake not only individual change and
organizational change, but institutional change.
In part, working within social systems requires understanding and practicing power. To some
extent, leading for the planet must be a collective, cooperative effort but, at the same time, a
major challenge is to unleash competition and innovation. Effective systemic leaders seek the
moral compass and interests shared by these approaches. It is well known that the fossil fuel and
green energy sectors compete and conflict. Effective systems leadership will find ways to
manage these power struggles for the collective good.
Leading as If the Planet Matters
Finally, systemic leadership assumes that effective decisions are based on moral principle. A
shared morality is the social glue that binds a civilized society. It is a core reason why we
humans are sensitive to the ethical practices of our companies and our societies, and why we care
about climate change even when it is not affecting us personally.
Indeed, maintaining our dignity as human beings depends in large part on our common instinct to
share a moral universe. No matter how hard we – including the “we” who work in business
organizations that assert moral “neutrality” – pretend to the contrary, human beings do not exist
amorally. Our personal experience confirms the importance of the moral dimension: We know
intuitively that, when we are choosing whether to follow a leader, what he or she believes
matters to us a great deal. It follows that, as leaders make hard choices about climate and energy,
they themselves will integrate moral reflection.
What Motivates Climate Leaders?
Leadership can be defined as any act of influence on a matter of interpersonal, family,
organizational, societal, or planetary relevance. This broad definition signals that to take
meaningful action, a person doesn’t have to fit a stereotypical notion of what a leader is (tall or
extroverted), and doesn’t have to be in a particular role in an organization (owner or manager) or
in society (an elected official). By this definition, whatever one’s roles in life, whatever one’s
starting point, one can learn enough, and one can find the personal motivation and the practical
means, to be a leader for the planet. Climate leadership requires individuals who think
psychologically and systemically at all organizational levels, in all kinds of organizations, across
all sectors of society.
All leadership is grounded in how leaders motivate themselves and others. When a person is
motivated, they develop a direction, pursue that direction with intensity, and persist toward that
goal even in the face of obstacles.4 Climate leadership applies the same principles.
For example, establishing a direction means choosing achievable goals that are worth working
for. Effective climate leaders define the challenges they face, choose the best solutions, and plan
responsible, commonsense steps to implement those solutions. To attract followers, they act
responsibly – that is, with humane purpose as determined in conversation with others. When
choosing their goals, they keep in mind not only their own community and the world community,
but also future generations. Above all, in choosing their direction, climate leaders weigh all the
evidence available to them, and, as new evidence is found, they are open to changing direction.
(If evidence of global cooling appears, rumor has it that they are planning a big party!)
Climate leaders also find the intensity – a personal passion for these issues – that comes from
knowing deeply that making time for people and the planet is the right thing to do. Personal
passion is not just about being conventionally virtuous, and virtue is not only about loving the
planet and each other. It is also about establishing ethical systems in which normal human
propensities like cooperation and competition can thrive. Intensity can also be found in
intellectual pursuits like developing innovative technology.
Finally, motivation requires persistence. In environmental circles, “persistence” often becomes
“resilience,” although behaviorally the terms mean much the same thing. Persisting can be
Leading as If the Planet Matters
challenging. Witness our interminable efforts to continue an exercise program or stop binging on
sugar. How does a person persist as a climate leader? One approach is to find a set of likeminded individuals who support one’s goals and reinforce even small steps towards them. A key
practice is to enjoy life and avoid burnout.
These days those people who are paying attention to climate and energy issues are bombarded
with scientific results. Yes, it’s all happening – warming, melting, storms, droughts, extinctions.
Unfortunately, absorbing so many details can create an overload of dread. Absent a plan to
address the problems, absent a clear path to results, our leaders and our potential leaders risk
burning out. For many, being personally resilient in the face of climate change may mean turning
off, for a time, that onslaught of new science, to return later with more discretion.
All this having been said, leadership is magnified by resources. Psychological and intellectual
sophistication and intent only go so far. The power to save the planet lies in significant measure
with those who direct organizations, wield expertise and connections, and spend money.
The Five Practices of Climate Leaders
The broad narrative of this book is that climate leaders must first get the truth about the state of
the planet and then use this information to evaluate key risks. Next, they must identify
stakeholders and sectors along with their interests and power. Finally, they must implement
change within and between organizations and societal sectors globally.
As used here, “environmental sustainability” means the obligation to conduct ourselves so that
we leave to the future the option and the capacity to be as well off as we are today. In this book
we focus on climate change and energy evolution, leaving for others the simultaneously critical
issues of population growth and agricultural development.
This book describes five practices for leading as if the planet matters. To “practice” means to
learn a set of facts, theories and strategies and apply these to drive plans, policies, and actions
toward a major goal like slowing global warming. The leadership practices we discuss are
grounded primarily in social science research about human decision making, as applied in the
systems influencing climate change and energy evolution. The overarching goal of the five
practices is to help us all to avoid the worst of global warming and create a clean energy future
through democratic processes.
A complementary view of this set of practices is that they comprise a model. Components of the
model have been developed inductively by this writer in conversations over a decade with
hundreds of students and colleagues in business, natural resources, engineering, philosophy, and
other disciplines. This model could be tested deductively to determine its utility in predicting
climate leader effectiveness. Of course, we may not have time for that.
Within each practice is a set of topics that includes analysis of current realities and conflicts,
along with pertinent psychological and sociological research. The essence of each topic is
sketched with facts, themes and research to spark further analysis. In this sense, each topic is a
mini-case. I make no pretense of being up-to-date on every detail of every topic. Our world is
changing so fast that any piece of writing is out of date as soon as it is conceived. Rather, this
Leading as If the Planet Matters
book offers readers a framework of essential issues that they can consider together.
Conversational learning—essentially, learning together through dialogue— is fundamental to
ethically engaged social science,5 and to leadership.
The first practice for climate leaders (1. The Truth) is to understand and promote the truth about
the planet, and to do so not merely as consumers of facts, but as psychologically complex and
morally engaged human beings. In this chapter we explore the dual origins of humans’ sense of
truth and suggest why leaders and decision-makers cannot afford to ignore either aspect. We
explore the nature of modern scientific truth and how humans’ belief in the truth of climate
change is influenced by both scientific reports and media accounts. We consider such issues as
why leaders should both trust and distrust science, whether they can trust scientific interpreters,
and how they can work with science that they do not fully understand.
The next practice (2. The Risks) is to understand the psychology of risk and how leaders and
organizations make decisions on managing risks. This practice includes understanding the
fundamentals of risk prediction, risk modeling and risk management as they apply to climate and
energy, and how organizations and societies plan based on knowledge and probabilities. What
are models and scenarios predicting for the future of the planet? Also, how can pursuing risk
management sometimes restrict individuals’ judgment about planetary concerns?
The third practice is to identify societal sectors and systems and their effects on planetary
sustainability. In Chapter 3 (The Stakes) we explore the most powerful societal sectors and
examine their stakes and conflicts. Moving beyond the classic tragedy of the commons scenario,
we consider the more complicated scenario of the stag hunt dilemma that illustrates the roots and
limitations of altruism. Finally, we weigh business’s predominant impact on the environment
against government’s responsibility to protect individuals and communities from environmental
The fourth practice (4. The Business of Business) is to manage profit-making organizations
sustainably while taking into consideration that they exist within the larger context of society and
the natural world. We go inside of organizations to see how some leaders maximize
sustainability in the context of increasing profits and reducing costs. We reflect on practical steps
organizational leaders can take to better manage the adoption of stronger, systemic sustainability
initiatives aimed at protecting the planet. These steps include driving change by assessing an
organization’s culture and by understanding one’s own emotional investment.
The fifth practice (5. Global Leadership) is to assess the realistic prospects for global change.
What types of leaders and practices are most likely to be effective globally? How do global
cooperation and competition work today, and how might climate leaders apply both philosophies
to foster change?
Finally, we reflect on the question “What’s the plan?” and review the choices that Team
Humanity has made so far. What grade should we humans give ourselves as decision makers and
leaders? How can we minimize our weaknesses and build upon our strengths? In what should
we place our hope?
Leading as If the Planet Matters
Chapter 1
The Truth
The first practice of leading for the planet is to tell people the truth. This is more complicated
than it may seem.
To lead authentically and convincingly, leaders must come to terms with the truth about the
climate as they see …
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