The Carbon Almanac

My friend, well-known author Seth Godin, has come out with a new book called “The Carbon Almanac: It’s Not Too Late”. The section on Game Theory also relates to networking very effectively. I recommend his book. This is an excerpt from the book.

Game Theory

Game theory is the study of how people or organi­zations interact with each other in a situation where there are limited resources, desired outcomes, and a finite amount of time—which precisely describes the challenges of climate. What rules would have to be in place for countries to ‘play a game’ that would lead to a worldwide reduction in emissions? Why wouldn’t wealthy, oil-rich countries cheat by free-riding when others are scaling back?

This is a version of the tragedy of the commons. If no one has an incentive to hold back, won’t everyone graze their livestock until nothing is left?

Game theory tries to solve this challenge. The problem with reciprocity is that the countries that emit the most have the least need for reciprocal behavior by others as they are the wealthiest.

Climate degradation begins when someone dumps waste or burns fuel because it costs less than doing the resilient thing instead. Degradation can be avoided when all neighbors enjoy the same incentives. The three remedies are:

  •                  Rewarding cooperation and reciprocity
  •                  Limiting the temptation to free ride
  •                  Punishing free-riders

If members of a group or different countries work together, systems can be built that lead to mutual rewards. When a marketplace is created where the invisible rules reward people for acting with the long-term in mind, that’s what people and organizations are more likely to do. It turns out that social norms, pricing real costs into the system, and other interventions can change how organizations and countries behave.

Game theory therefore explains why some nations emit and avoid cleaning up—they get the benefits of cheap fuel while others pay for it with a changing climate and pollution.

Social norms have long changed the way organiza­tions behave because they amplify beneficial long-term behaviors. The choices made by consumers and our responses to actions by producers can rewrite the rules that industries play by. Combined with fees and dividends related to carbon emission and capture, this can lead to a ‘game’ that the players win by cleaning up the mess that the last game created.




The book is available on amazon and select online retailers.

More information is available at

2 thoughts on “The Carbon Almanac

  1. This reminds me of a proposed legislative bill back in the 1970s, during one of our so-called energy crises. My parents had always kept the thermostat in our home low, and before bed they always turned it down even more, to 54 degrees. The bill proposed to charge homeowners something like an additional 10% fee or tax on their home-heating fuel, as an incentive to turn down their thermostats, people like my parents objected strongly, pointing out that it would penalize those already doing so. The bill did not pass. Global solutions are rarely a solution.

    Many disparage alternative energy sources because none of these sources individually can meet all of our energy needs. But it’s a mindset thing – there’s no reason why we can’t employ more than one source to meet our needs. A lot of industries, too, resist the use of alternative forms of energy because individuals like me can’t be taxed or charged for the use of the sun, wind, or water power (tidal as well as riverine). The oldest iron forge on this continent, Saugus Iron Works in Massachusetts built in the 1600s, used the tidal river to power its forge. (So we have to wait half an hour four times a day for the tide to shift between ebb and flow and gain momentum again – maybe it’s time we slowed down …)

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