Donella Meadows was an ecologist and systems theorist. She studied complex systems like fish populations, and her classic essay informs our approach -- Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System.
Meadows described how to change any system. It could be the human body, a family, a corporation, etc. First, in our case, imagine a giant lever we can use to shift Indiana. We've simplified her model to include four leverage points:
We help households and businesses become carbon neutral, but this is part of a larger, holistic, systems approach. We're engaging each of these leverage points to help Indiana become carbon neutral as soon as possible.
This describes anything that's easily measurable. When anyone tries to change a system they usually think of parameters first. Examples include metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).
There are countless ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- switching to electric vehicles, insulating homes, installing solar panels, etc. Which solutions offer the lowest cost per ton reduction? And how can we channel money to projects that actually, verifiably reduce emissions? We can commoditize carbon and let the market offer the lowest cost, highest quality negative ton.
Local Carbon Projects
How can we leverage carbon markets to finance emissions reductions projects in Indiana? Working on it!
This describes how information flows in a system. What information is publicly available? What's not? Who knows? While not the most powerful leverage point, dollar for dollar it's one of the most cost effective ways to change a system. Examples include the Freedom of Information Act, lists of things like the top universities, standardized reporting requirements, etc.
Local Climate Journalism
Indiana has about six millions residents, and yet we only have 3-5 journalists covering the environment. What if we 10X'd that number? Wouldn't that transform Indiana? Working on it! ;)
This describes the rules of the system. This includes influencing legislation, and it's where most climate organizations focus. It's a powerful leverage point, but it's not the only one.
Nonpartisan Climate Advocacy
We participate in the legislative process at the the city and state level.
This describes the operating system or philosophy of a system. An example is a factory that produces widgets. It functions in one way during peacetime, but during wartime -- when our lives depends on defeating the enemy -- it functions a very different way.
Occasionally we offer leadership opportunities for young people. For example, in 2020 we hosted 15 college students in a summer leadership program. Many said the experience was more valuable than their average college class.
Many people suffer from fear about climate. A recent study published in Nature showed 75% of young people said the "future is frightening" due to climate change and 39% said they were "hesitant to have children" due to climate change. More generally, from 2007 to 2017, suicide rates about girls aged 10 - 14 years old increased 13% per year.
Becoming carbon neutral is one way to regain a sense of control, feel progress, and renew realistic hope about the future. Our psychological impact might be more important than our carbon impact.
Because we're a local organization, we can host events like ice cream socials and rooftop parties.