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Michael P Totten GreenATP: APPortunities to catalyze local to global positive tipping points through collaborative innovation networks

Michael P Totten GreenATP: APPortunities to catalyze local to global positive tipping points through collaborative innovation networks

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Published by Michael P Totten
Humanity’s unceasing ingenuity is generating vast economic gain for billions of people with goods unavailable to even kings and queens throughout most of history. Unfortunately, this economic growth has triggered unprecedented se- curity challenges of global and historical magnitude: more absolute poor than any time in human history, the sixth largest extinction spasm of life on earth, climate destabilization with mega-catastrophic consequences, and multi-trillion dollar wars over access to energy. These multiple, inextricably interwoven chal- lenges have low probability of being solved if decision makers maintain the strong propensity to think and act as if life is linear, has no carrying capacity limits, uncertainty is controllable, the future free of surprises, planning is predictable and compartmentalized into silos, and Gaussian distributions are taken as the norm while fat-tail futures are ignored. Although the future holds irreducible uncertainties, it is not fated. The emergence of Internet availability to one-third of humanity and access by most of humanity within a decade has spawned the Web analogue of a ‘Cambrian explosion’ of speciation in knowledge applications. Among the most prodigious have been collaboration innovation networks (COINs) reflecting a diversity of ‘genome’ types, facilitating a myriad of collective intelligence crowd-swarming phenomena (Malone T, Laubacher R, Dellarocas C. The Collective Intelligence Genome. MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring; 2010, Vol. 51). COINs are essential tools for accelerating and scaling transformational solutions (positive tipping points) to the wicked problems confronting humanity. Web COINs enable acceleration of multiple-benefit innovations and solutions to these problems that permeate the nested clusters of linked nonlinear complex adaptive systems comprising the global biosphere and socioeconomy .
Humanity’s unceasing ingenuity is generating vast economic gain for billions of people with goods unavailable to even kings and queens throughout most of history. Unfortunately, this economic growth has triggered unprecedented se- curity challenges of global and historical magnitude: more absolute poor than any time in human history, the sixth largest extinction spasm of life on earth, climate destabilization with mega-catastrophic consequences, and multi-trillion dollar wars over access to energy. These multiple, inextricably interwoven chal- lenges have low probability of being solved if decision makers maintain the strong propensity to think and act as if life is linear, has no carrying capacity limits, uncertainty is controllable, the future free of surprises, planning is predictable and compartmentalized into silos, and Gaussian distributions are taken as the norm while fat-tail futures are ignored. Although the future holds irreducible uncertainties, it is not fated. The emergence of Internet availability to one-third of humanity and access by most of humanity within a decade has spawned the Web analogue of a ‘Cambrian explosion’ of speciation in knowledge applications. Among the most prodigious have been collaboration innovation networks (COINs) reflecting a diversity of ‘genome’ types, facilitating a myriad of collective intelligence crowd-swarming phenomena (Malone T, Laubacher R, Dellarocas C. The Collective Intelligence Genome. MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring; 2010, Vol. 51). COINs are essential tools for accelerating and scaling transformational solutions (positive tipping points) to the wicked problems confronting humanity. Web COINs enable acceleration of multiple-benefit innovations and solutions to these problems that permeate the nested clusters of linked nonlinear complex adaptive systems comprising the global biosphere and socioeconomy .

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Advanced Review
GreenATP: APPortunities tocatalyze local to global positivetipping points throughcollaborative innovation networks
Michael P. Totten
Humanity’s unceasing ingenuity is generating vast economic gain for billionsof people with goods unavailable to even kings and queens throughout most of history. Unfortunately, this economic growth has triggered unprecedented se-curity challenges of global and historical magnitude: more absolute poor thanany time in human history, the sixth largest extinction spasm of life on earth,climate destabilization with mega-catastrophic consequences, and multi-trilliondollar wars over access to energy. These multiple, inextricably interwoven chal-lengeshavelowprobabilityofbeingsolvedifdecisionmakersmaintainthestrongpropensity to think and act as if life is linear, has no carrying capacity limits,uncertainty is controllable, the future free of surprises, planning is predictableand compartmentalized into silos, and Gaussian distributions are taken as thenorm while fat-tail futures are ignored. Although the future holds irreducibleuncertainties, it is not fated. The emergence of Internet availability to one-thirdof humanity and access by most of humanity within a decade has spawned theWeb analogue of a ‘Cambrian explosion’ of speciation in knowledge applica-tions. Among the most prodigious have been collaboration innovation networks(COINs)reflectingadiversityof‘genome’types,facilitatingamyriadofcollectiveintelligence crowd-swarming phenomena (Malone T, Laubacher R, Dellarocas C.
The Collective Intelligence Genome
. MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring; 2010, Vol. 51). COINs are essential tools for accelerating and scaling transformationalsolutions (positive tipping points) to the wicked problems confronting humanity.Web COINs enable acceleration of multiple-benefit innovations and solutions tothese problems that permeate the nested clusters of linked nonlinear complexadaptive systems comprising the global biosphere and socioeconomy [Raford N.How to build a collective intelligence platform to crowdsource almost anything.Availableat:http:news.noahraford.com.(AccessedNovember30,2011)].TheWebinitiative, GreenATP, illustrates this opportunity.
C
2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
How to cite this article:
WIREs Energy Environ
2012, 1: 98–113 doi: 10.1002/wene.40
COLLABORATION INNOVATIONNETWORKS
O
ver the past millennium, global population in-creased 22-fold, world gross domestic product(GDP) rose nearly 300-fold, and per capita incomeincreased 13-fold.
1–3
Life expectation also improved
Correspondence to: mtotten@conservation.orgConservation International, Singapore, SingaporeDOI: 10.1002/wene.40
dramatically. The average infant can expect to sur-vive 66 years, compared with 24 years in the year1000, with one out of three dying in the first year of life. Per capita growth has also been accelerating ex-ponentially, with declining time intervals that it takesfor a doubling of per capita global GDP.
4
This phenomenal rise in wealth and well-beinghas occurred for a number of factors (e.g., the scien-tific method, advancements in knowledge, improvedhygiene and sanitary conditions, and evolving inno-vationsinengineeringandtechnology),withaccessto
98
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2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
WIREs Energy and Environment APPortunities to catalyze tipping points through COINs
cheap energy being a primary driver this past century.Cheap energy, in turn, made access to water and re-sources cheaper, resulting in an eightfold increase inglobal materials use during the 20th century. Thishistorical growth pattern, coupled with a determin-istic view of continuous technology advances, leadmost economists to assume global average annual percapita growth rates of 2–3% in the 21st century. Thisimpliesanearly10-to20-foldincreaseinworldGDP.Earth scientists, however, are far less sanguine, giventhe accumulation of observations, measurements, ev-idence, and findings that indicate serious instabilitiesthroughout the biosphere, posing cataclysmic threatsto undermine, disrupt, and collapse humanity’s vul-nerable socioeconomic systems. It is abundantly clearfrom the multitude of earth systems and socioecologi-calscientificassessmentsthatthetraditional‘wisdom’in solving complex problems through orderly, linearmodelingisperilouslyinadequate.Weconfrontabas-ket of wicked problems, ill-defined problem sets thatare too complex to be solved by rational systematicprocesses.
5
Theoverwhelmingscaleandcomplexityoftheseunparalleled perils is stupefying and paralyze mostcitizens from taking action, resigned to pessimism,willful blindness, or fatalism. Such attitudes are pre-mature, albeit understandable given well-funded en-trenched interests aggressively blocking action bydistorting facts. As Body Shop founder Anita Rod-dick put it, ‘If you think you’re too small to makean impact, try going to bed with a mosquito inthe room.’ The past half-century has been witnessto an explosion of knowledge generation, technicaladvances, and accumulated evidence from appliedinnovations in markets and governance that offerpromising prospects for addressing these seeminglyintractable perils.Althoughtheredoesnotappeartobeanyintrin-sic technological, economic, or financial impossibil-ity in transforming humanity’s unfolding nightmareinto a healthy, sustainable future, harnessing humanwillpower and overcoming entrenched interests havealways been the Achilles’ heels of such change. Thereis grossly insufficient leadership in society’s major in-stitutions, be it governments, religions, businesses,and academia. This has had a corrosive effect oncitizen confidence in believing anything positive willoccur from sclerotic-like centralized bureaucracies.Whensuddencrisestoolargetoignoredemandpublicaction (e.g., Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans),all too frequently the actions taken are done with-out foresight or common sense, let alone designed forachieving multiple-benefit outcomes. The result tendsto be enormous, lost opportunities. With the rise of the Web, however, there is amplifying recognitionthat a powerful communication revolution is emer-gent. Over the past decade, the exponential growthof Web networks enabling social collaboration hasspawned powerful new ways to engage a global cit-izenry at a heretofore unprecedented level of ongo-ing breadth, depth, and diversity of arrangementsandcooperativeinitiatives.TheWeb’smany-to-manycommunication, sharing, producing, and collaborat-ing offer a potent opportunity for harnessing peo-ple’s ‘cognitive surplus’—‘the shared, online work wedo with our spare brain cycles for building a bet-ter, more cooperative world.’
6
GreenATP is used toillustrate the power of self-organizing collaborationinnovation networks (COINs) for catalyzing swarmsof ‘greening’
a
activity in localities worldwide.
UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGES OFGLOBAL AND HISTORICALMAGNITUDE
Theaccumulatingevidencederivedfromawiderangeof transdisciplinary research on the earth’s physicalclimate and biogeochemical systems, including ex-tensiveinterdisciplinarysupercomputermodeling,themathematical study of nested clusters of interactingdynamic nonlinear complex adaptive systems, andpaleoscience discoveries in climatology, ecology, andmarine geochemistry, starkly show that business-as-usual global economic growth is transgressing plan-etary boundaries in the terrestrial, atmospheric, andoceanicspheres.Humanityisspiralingintoafutureof more frequent and severe local, regional, and globaldisasters of increasingly ‘biblical’ proportions, e.g.,100- and 500-year flood and drought episodes occur-ring in a period of several years (Figure 1).
7
Sixth Largest Species Extinction Spasm
Biologists and ecologists have been sounding alarmsover the last quarter century of an unfolding extinc-tion spasm of planetary dimensions, due to human-ity’s liquidation of intact ecosystems and assemblagesoffloraandfaunaoccurringinthewakeofconvertingnation-size landscapes for food, feed, fiber, forestry,fuel, and other commodities. Extinction of species in-evitably occurs over geological time spans, with some99.9% of all life having gone extinct since life firstformed3.85billionyearsago.Whatisdifferentaboutthe current human-triggered planetary mass extinc-tion is the phenomenal rate, estimated to be three tofour orders of magnitude higher than the average nat-uralbackgroundrate.Asdetailedinthemulti-volume
Volume 1, July/August 2012
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2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Advanced Review
wires.wiley.com/wene
FIGURE 1
|A safe operating space forhumanity. Estimates of how the differentcontrol variables for seven planetaryboundaries have changed from 1950 topresent. The green shaded polygon representsthe safe operating space. (Reprinted withpermission from Ref 7. Copyright 2009,Macmillan Publishers Limited.)
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
8
and the more re-cent The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
9
and Principles for Responsible Investment
10
reports,the wholesale destruction of worldwide ecosystemservices, the planet’s natural capital, is destroyingsome5trilliondollarsperyearofassetsandeconomicvalue. This is a conservative estimate, given that just1% of the planet’s species have been studied, manyholding potentially immense future value generatedby the 21st century’s exponentially growing bioinfor-matics sector and biotechnology industry, and will beirretrievably lost before science discovers them.
 Ecosystem Services Irreversible Losses
With the world adding the population size of theUnited Kingdom every year, the projected 10 billionpopulation by 2050 will require a 70% increase infood production. Along with the increased energyand materials feeding humanity’s rising economic‘metabolism’,thecontinuedlossofecosystemservicesand natural capital is estimated to cost nearly 20% of annual Gross World Product by 2050.
10
Expandingenvironmental degradation and ecosystem collapsesarebeingrecognizedasmonumentalthreatstohumansecurity,
11
,
12
withevidenceoforcorrelationsbetweenloss of ecosystem services and piracy, land conflictsand resource wars, ethnic cleansing, and genocidalcrimes (e.g., Rwanda
13
and Darfur
14
).
15
,
16
Climate Destabilization andMega-Catastrophic Consequences
In 2010, global CO
2
emissions exceeded the worstcase scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Cli-mate Change, with 33 Gt carbon dioxide equivalent(CO
2
e)
b
of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted fromoil, coal, natural gas, and cement production.
17
Anadditional 15–20% (5–6.6 Gt CO
2
e) are estimatedfrom deforestation, nearly 12 Gt CO
2
e from non-CO
2
GHGs,
18
and potentially 1 Gt CO
2
e of methaneemissions from hydro dams
c
.
19
Scientistsrecentlycalculatedthatthenetpresentvalue of climate change impacts from business-as-usual is $1240 trillion, assuming stabilization of at-mospheric concentrations of CO
2
e below 850 ppmby 2100.
20
In reality, society is not only on pace toexceed 850 ppm, but new evidence also indicates fargreater climate sensitivity at much lower levels previ-ously thought ‘safe’ (
450ppm).Three recent global modeling assessments in-dicate that the planet faces a 5–7
C increase inglobal average temperature this century—a drasti-cally large and rapid change unprecedented in thehistory of 
Homo sapiens
.
21–23
Implications includedesertification of roughly a quarter of global agri-cultural lands (half in Africa),
24
as well as resultingin largely irreversible changes in global ecosystemsfor 1000 years after emissions stop.
25
An estimatedtwo-thirds of the world plant and animals speciescould be driven to extinction, especially when com-pounded by humanity annually burning down andclearing tropical forests and ecosystems the size of England.Nor is this the worst of all possibilities. Otherrecent scientific research indicates that atmosphericCO
2
e emissions under business-as-usual carbon-intensive economic growth could trigger disastrous‘tipping points’, releasing vast storehouses of theearth’s carbon stocks into the atmosphere. Nearly adozen negative tipping points have been identified,
ranging from the melting of the permafrost and re-leaseofmassiveamountsofthepotentGHGmethane,
100
Volume 1, July/August 2012
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2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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