The Snap Forward: New Thinking to Win the Climate Fight
We’re witnessing an extraordinary moment: a time when millions of people around the world are finally taking our planetary emergency seriously.
There’s a palpable energy growing now. The Green New Deal. The scientists of the IPCC demanding that the world take the urgency of the 1.5ºC target seriously. Greta Thunberg’s school strikes for climate. The acceleration of clean energy technologies. The growing divestment movement. U.S. presidential candidates embracing the need for action. A resurgence of climate journalism. Even the survival of the Paris Agreement, despite Donald Trump’s bluster and threats. More people than ever before are serious about winning the fight to stop our climate emergency from becoming a full-blown catastrophe.
For those of us who’ve been in this fight a while, these are thrilling days.
These are also terrifying times, though. Most of us know that despite our growing momentum, we’re still losing the fight. Fossil fuel companies and other dirty industries are still using their political clout, propaganda of denial and predatory delay to slow progress and block the bold actions we need.
And we know what losing means: Rising seas. Burning forests. Rivers running dry. Ferocious Storms. Wars and collapses. Trillions of dollars in damage, year after year. Hundreds of millions of people on the move, looking for somewhere safe. Losing the climate fight means terrible and tragic losses for our kids and their kids and generations to come. Losing the climate fight might mean losing civilization itself.
The clock is ticking. Faced with a set of dire problems that get worse every day, winning too slowly becomes basically the same thing as losing outright. Many of us worry we just can’t win fast enough.
You know what? We’re right to worry. Despite all our new momentum, our old strategies are largely failing us.
That’s because our strategies are based on old thinking, and old thinking is dangerous now. We’re going through what futurists call a “discontinuity” — a time when previous experience can’t ready us for what is coming — precisely at the moment when we’re all being forced to make a bunch of hard, serious choices.
It's not easy to figure this stuff out for yourself. Much of what we read, see, hear and learn about the planetary emergency is out-of-date. When our thinking suddenly catches up to the scope, scale and speed of the problems we face, we often get a sort of mental whiplash. I call this experience "the snap forward."
However, once we see the disruptive new forces emerging around us — once we snap forward — the moment we’re in begins to look less like a long losing battle and more like a set of opportunities for breakthrough victories. This short book shows how fresh thinking can help us win the climate fight, and win it fast.
In it, I share the tools to make that leap. I explain the nature of this discontinuity, and unlock the secrets of climate foresight. I unpack why the Carbon Lobby’s apparent power is in fact a front for fragility. I explore the ten core new strategies available to us, right now, for winning fast. Most of all, I give readers the tools to make a bigger difference in their own work, communities and political lives.
The Snap Forward is the book this moment needs. In fact, I started writing this book two years ago precisely because I saw this moment coming. And I'm rushing to get it out this summer because speed matters now.
I've spent years on the front lines, learning how to see the planetary future and make moves that matter. I've worked as a journalist, NGO leader, futurist and strategic advisor on five continents. This is the most important work I've ever done.
Here's the thing: I need your help bringing it to the world.
I’ve got a manuscript. I need a couple months to polish it — with the help of my colleague Justus Stewart — and some financial support to help me hire an editor and designer to get it to publication. Once done, I'll deliver it as an e-book and in print-on-demand hard copy.
Please help launch this important set of ideas into the world.
My work explores the future of humanity and the fate of the Earth. I ask how we can better understand the connections between nature and human systems, how we can imagine the powerful solutions we need, and how we might build a sustainable civilization.
I’ve been pushing the boundaries of climate foresight and disruptive sustainability for years, as a writer (Carbon Zero), editor (Worldchanging), and strategic advisor to some of the most forward-thinking groups and businesses in the world.
Here’s what others say about my work:
“Alex Steffen… lays out the blueprint for a successful century.”
—The New York Times
"You really, really should be reading Alex Steffen. Really. He’s telling the story of the future.”
“There are two kinds of futurists. The first explore the variations of what exists and project the future from those tea leaves. The second, and by far the rarer, peer around the curve of time and reimagine the future as much as foresee it. Alex Steffen is the latter!”
—Paul Hawken, Project Drawdown
“When CEOs want to navigate the world's mega-challenges and prepare for a volatile world, they look to business strategists like me. And when business strategists want to challenge and hone our own thinking about the future, we look to Alex Steffen.”
—Andrew Winston, author The Big Pivot and Green to Gold
"Alex Steffen is an extraordinary visionary."
“Alex Steffen delivers foresight that's powerful even for professional futurists. His ability to envision the underlying structures of change brings clarity, purpose and inspiration out of the fog of future possibilities.”
—James Goodman, Director of Futures, Forum for the Future
“Alex Steffen is one of the most insightful futurists on our struggling planet. He brings compelling and wide-ranging ideas about staying relevant and he is alert to new opportunities. He synthesizes what is known, what the new trends are on the horizon—a terrific intellect offering up deep and thoughtful considerations critical to modern leadership success.”
—James P. Cramer, Chairman, Design Futures Council
Risks and challenges
Most of the work is already done. Because I've already been working on this project for a couple years, it presents fewer barriers to completion than a lot of other Kickstarter efforts.
That said, there's still some real work needed to ensure that The Snap Forward is a quality book:
The book will need to be copy-edited and proofed.
The cover and text will need to be designed.
I don't foresee any of these tasks being difficult or unusual jobs, but they all present opportunities for delays or errors. Therefore, I've given myself a generous timeline for delivery—and I hope to be able to move faster than that!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (12 days)