Grand Strategy for the 21st -Century Era
Of Entangled Security and Hyperthreats
Elizabeth G. Boulton, PhD / Department of Defense Information
(April 18, 2022) — Abstract:
Although the dangers of climate change and ecological collapse are often described as existential or catastrophic threats, in practice they are approached as scientific policy and governance issues. “Securitizing” the issue has long been regarded as problematic, with an assumption that it will lead to draconian top-down solutions.
PLAN E presents an alternate approach. In this article, traditional military threat analytical methods are fused with emerging ecophilosophical concepts to produce a prototype concept of operations for how humanity could respond to the hyperthreat of climate and environmental change. The author argues that the nature of threat has changed, which requires a new threat posture. Further, the nature of the threat demands a shift toward greater bottom-up and localized response.
Keywords: PLAN E, hyperthreat, entangled security, climate change, hyperobject, strategy, climate emergency, mobilization, transdisciplinary, planetary security, slow violence, sixth extinction event.
PLAN E presents a concept for a hyper-response to the hyperthreat of climate and environmental change. It is a creative demonstration of what a new security approach might look and feel like. It deliberately describes some “micro” solutions to assist in the imagining process; these are not intended to be prescriptive but merely to encourage and prompt reimaging more broadly.
To help these ideas be accessible across disciplines and beyond academia, where possible, simple language and even some creative narrative techniques such as the use of metaphor are employed, as well as multiple diagrams.
The more detailed theoretical arguments and analysis of the hyperthreat’s context is provided in this author’s main article in the spring 2022 issue of the Journal of Advanced Military Studies, which also includes a glossary of terms. For brevity, most of the content of that article is not repeated here, though it would normally be included within PLAN E for completeness.1
Note: For all graphics and endnotes, visit the original posting.
An Introduction to PLAN E:
In the twenty-first century, humanity faces a threat for which there is no precedent to draw on: the climate and environment change (CEC) hyperthreat. This hyperthreat has warlike destructive capabilities that are so diffuse that it is hard to see the enormity of the destruction coherently or who is responsible for its hostile actions. It comprises the combined impacts of rapid global warming and the unravelling of Earth’s ecological systems.
The hyperthreat is a phenomenon that humanity has not encountered before. The nature of threat has changed, but so too has the nature of power. The hyperthreat is expected to become the major global shaping force of this century, forcing humanity to accept reduced agency and increasingly occupy a responsive stance.2
The hyperthreat’s vanguard has arrived, while plans have been intercepted that reveal that its main body forces are currently advancing and will arrive from the year 2030 onward. Generally, the hyperthreat plans to exploit fossil fuel resources and natural ecological systems at rates and scales that will see safe planetary boundaries exceeded.3 Its intention may be to move rapidly before humanity imposes defenses or outmaneuvers it via alternate technologies.
The hyperthreat’s center of gravity (COG), the key characteristic that provides its power, is its freedom of movement, which is enabled by its hyperobject-like invisibility and unknowability and by human hesitancy to respond. Human activity that fuels the hyperthreat is often legal, has social license, and is understood as legitimate business or security activity; its contribution to slow violence is often obscured.4
The hyperthreat’s most dangerous course of action is to provoke cascading tipping elements, accelerating a transition to a “Hothouse Earth” state, which is uninhabitable for most species (figure 1). Without concerted global action between 2022 and 2025, the most dangerous course of action is also the most likely course of action.
Figure 1. Global map of potential tipping cascades
Source: Will Steffen et al., “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115, no. 33 (2018), https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1810141115.
The hyperthreat sits within a context of old systems of order and meaning that are being disrupted and increasing insecurity. Globally, human socioeconomic, political, and governance systems are becoming increasingly unstable, with levels of freedom in decline. Human security is degrading and involves a wide range of problems, such as poor physical and mental health, modern-day slavery, human trafficking, poverty, unemployment, domestic abuse, sexual violence, pedophilia, hate crimes, and systematic racism.
Significant philosophical revisions and understandings of social and individual identity and freedom are under way, which unsettles peoples’ sense of epistemological and ontological certainty. Psychological warfare and information operations waged by multiple actors, including corporations, have a formidable ability to disrupt human’s trust in institutions and perceptions of reality.
The global security environment has degraded. Worldwide, increased military spending reflects expectations of greater conflict during the decade between 2022 and 2030, including the prospect of major intrastate warfare. Both extensive preparation for warfare or major warfare itself will likely impair or cripple global capacity to achieve safe Earth while simultaneously turbocharging the hyperthreat’s ferocity.5
Accordingly, the current global military buildup could represent a situation whereby many nations are entering, unconsciously or perhaps because there seems to be no other option, into a new type of mutually assured destruction (MAD) scenario, or even the Homo sapiens death spiral.
By applying economic, diplomatic, military, and other tools of force and power to participate in the “race for what’s left” of Earth’s resources, humanity is unwittingly aiding the hyperthreat. Capacity to arrest deteriorating global security is also in doubt, as evidenced by failed efforts in places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Honduras, South Sudan, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Overall, there is the possibility that humanity has lost control of its capacity to achieve security and safety. This echoes ecophilosopher Timothy B. Morton’s fundamental conclusions: that humans have lost agency to the hyperobject.
To allow humanity to reach and maintain safe Earth, large-scale response to the hyperthreat must occur between 2022 and 2030. At present, however, humanity is not effectively scaled or configured to properly perceive the threat, let alone mobilize an effective response. An analysis of “friendly forces” via a “tribal discourse” activity found that although many of humanity’s smaller and less powerful tribes are engaged in minor operations against the hyperthreat, its most powerful tribes often abet the hyperthreat (figure 2).
If humanity’s tribes could be united against the hyperthreat, the current balance of probabilities, which currently lie with a hyperthreat victory and a Hothouse Earth outcome, could be recast.
Figure 2. Tribal discourse: generic tribes loosely grouped by their primary security foci and depicting their stance in relation to the hyperthreat. [View graphic online.]
Humanity’s COG is assessed as its deep frames, prevalent and dominant worldviews that influence governance decisions across the public and private sectors (figure 3). Simply put, CEC presents a new type of threat — a Frankenstein-like killing and destruction phenomenon — that humanity struggles to conceive or perceive.
Figure 3. Deep frames of the industrial era. [View graphic online.]
Fortuitously, philosophers working on this problem are helping humanity recalibrate to a new geophysical reality, with ideas that were drawn on to develop an initial prototype for a new deep frame: entangled security (figure 4).6 With socialization, the entangled security compass may help humanity break out of its current quagmire and regain initiative against the hyperthreat.
Figure 4. Entangled security compass. [View graphic online.]
Rather than creating long lists of “types” of security threats — or, for instance, following the United Nation’s (UN) approach of setting 17 sustainable development goals — a neutral and nonhuman centric threat assessment concludes that effective security strategy requires clear prioritization toward containing the most dangerous threat: the hyperthreat. A clear mission acts as an orchestration tool, which does not discount other objectives but helps to coordinate and order humanity’s response and direct limited resources toward where they are most needed.
The aim of the hyper-response is to create a safe path to safe Earth (figure 5). Among other critical actions, this requires reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and arresting the sixth extinction event.
Figure 5. Pathways of the Earth system out of the Holocene period
Source: Steffen et al., “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.”
This hyper-response is a six-phase operation that will extend until the year 2100. It is civilian-led and involves a whole-of-society layered mobilization. In broad terms, it involves humanity scaling up to a hyper-level and reconfiguring its activities. It orientates around making the threat visible and knowable, to an extent that this inspires automatic configuration and realignment across human tribes.
The hyper-response takes the viewpoint that, in the context of the enormous amount of work that needs to be done in a short period of time, Earth’s large human population is an asset if it can be effectively leveraged as part of the hyper-response. To explain further, a “humans-as-ants” strategy infuses PLAN E. Like an ant, a single human has little power or agency against the hyperthreat, but when humans amass and align their goals, they can achieve remarkable outcomes.
Accordingly, PLAN E operates from homes, communities, and workplaces through to the geopolitical level. It involves children’s lunches, grandparents, local rivers, parks, the Amazon Rainforest, hairdressers, refugees, prisoners, farmers, and the mining executive. Its success hinges on not only communication of the problem but also the capacity for humans to undertake synchronized action toward the same goal. Coordination, cooperation, teamwork, and leadership skills become significant to survival capacity.
The hyper-response aims to deflate or attack the hyperthreat by operating at the microlevel through “mesh-interventions” as well as at the macrolevel through realignment of great nation states and tribes. It involves raising significant new capabilities, which include, for example, a “home force,” a “point force,” and a “planetary security task force.” Design of a hyper-response will be dependent on a comprehensive strategic planning process being enacted and ongoing discourse and revision. This strategic concept focuses on phase 1 and provides introductory ideas for phase 2.
The term deep phases signifies a shift toward hyperoriented planning horizons. The phrases of the hyper-response are as follows:
- Phase 1. PLAN E: Envision and Embark (2022).In 2022, the focus is exploring and envisioning the hyper-response and embarking on this mission. It will involve engaging and energizing people, analysis, planning, and some early actions. The “E” in PLAN E stands for “Earth,” “everyone,” “everything,” and “everywhere.”
- Phase 2. PLAN F: Fast and Furious (2023–26).For four years, an accelerated and intensive global effort will be made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and restore ecological stability. It will be “fast and furious” because it will involve startup action as well as implementation. It is focused on the remaining “low-hanging fruit” for fastest global reductions.
- Phase 3. PLAN G: Guts and Guile (2027–35).It is anticipated that this period will address the harder aspects of global transition, in terms of technology, infrastructure, and social behavior change. As initial enthusiasm may have waned, a stoic approach will be required, refreshing the workforce and dealing with more dangerous hyperthreat actions.
- Phase 4. PLAN H: Hold; Hello Hell (2035–50).This period is anticipated to involve severe and sustained attacks by the hyperthreat, which could unravel efforts undertaken in phases 1–3. The hyper-response will need to be advanced, despite ongoing attacks. This may require periods of strategic withdrawal and retreat to safe locations, paired with opportunistic rapid advances. It will be a time of holding on fast to the gains and momentum of phases 1–3. Attributes such as hope, heroism, humor, humanity, hospitality, and honor will be critical.
- Phase 5. PLAN I: Ingenuity (2050–2100).A stretch target set for the second half of the twenty-first century is for it to be a time in which humanity has gained knowledge, experience, and confidence in dealing with an entangled security environment and coexisting with the hyperthreat. The collective global effort and learning during phases 1–4 will have allowed ingenious solutions for interdependence to emerge. It will be a time of flourishing invention and inspiration.
- Phase 6. PLAN J: Jewel Endures (Post-2100).Safe Earth is either achieved or is now achievable. The blue jewel of Earth and its inhabitants endure and shine in the universe. Ecosystems recover, and lost species are reestablished using DNA. Justice, for all species and generations, is restored.
This approach is informed by the following seven strategic concepts, some of which will be described further below:
- Philosophical pivot
- Operationalizing entangled security
- Targeting hyperthreat enablers
- Creative state
- International relations realignment
- Layered mobilization
- Strengthening affective security
Recognizing that the CEC hyperthreat operates at micro and macro scales across most forms of human activity and that a whole-of-society approach is required to combat it, the approach to the CEC hyperthreat partly relies on a philosophical pivot. The idea here is that a powerful understanding of the CEC hyperthreat (how it feels, moves, and operates), as well as the larger philosophical and survival-based reasons for hyper-reconfiguration, enables all actors and groups to design their own bespoke solutions.
Consequently, the narrative and threat description act as a type of orchestration tool across many agencies. This is like the “shared consciousness” idea in retired US Army general Stanley A. McChrystal’s “team of teams” approach to complexity.7
Such an approach is heavily dependent on exceptional communication of both the CEC hyperthreat and hyper-response pathways, as well as providing an enabling environment in terms of capacity to make decisions, access information and resources. This idea informs Operation Visibility and Knowability (OP VAK), which will be described later.
The overarching ethos is what is coined the “harm-to-help” ethic. People and groups “pivot” their activities from being harmful, or aligned with the hyperthreat, to helpful, or aligned with the hyper-response.
Operationalizing Entangled Security
Initial “grand narrative” themes revolve around the concept of entangled security and infuse this plan. However, deep framing analysis directs that a frame or narrative is not static, but rather holds that to remain truthful, the frame or narrative necessarily evolves in an intra-active way with other “matter.”8 Accordingly, OP VAK and a societal-wide hyperconversation process provide a mechanism for ongoing narrative development.
Entangled security will be mainstreamed into multilateralism and local, state, and national institutions. It informs the design of the hyper-response force (HRF).9Entangled security is part of the philosophical pivot; it is a strategic conceptual framework that provides orchestration logic rather than formal control of any agencies.
Targeting Hyperthreat Enablers
The three key enablers of the hyperthreat — its invisibility, its ability to evade all existing human threat-response mechanisms, and human hesitancy — will be targeted with three corresponding lines of effort, which will be pursued across multiple task groups:10
- Make the hyperthreat visible and knowable;
- Reduce hyperthreat freedom of action; and
- Achieve mass and speed of response.
Affective Dimensions: Moral Forces
Like the military concept of moral forces, affective dimensions have utmost importance to capacity for a successful hyper-response.11 Accordingly, plans, activities and resources to address affective dimensions will infuse the entire approach. A guiding principle will be to make the hyper-response as not only fun and enjoyable as possible but also meaningful via a vibrant grand narrative approach that connects the mission to conceptions of identity, values, and evolving worldviews.12
Second, acknowledging increased affective insecurity and that heightened vulnerability and fear will be a factor, great efforts must be made to bolster the care, support and protection provided to people.
A bottom-up approach involves aiming for maximum participation at a society-wide level. While this relates to achieving “mass and speed” of response, it also connects to psychological and philosophical research on the need for belonging and agency.
One way a bottom-up approach can achieve maximum participation is through asking individuals, “How do you help us win?” or “How do you help us reach our destination of safe Earth?” This differs from most employment circumstances that issue top-down-directed work. It is anticipated that surprising answers will emerge, which allows people to align their aptitude and best skills to the mission. Two examples follow:
- Retired elite athletes have skills in goal setting, visualizing success, and motivating action. They could be employed as ecocoaches, supporting teams that are working on difficult transition tasks or leading health and fitness programs for the community.
- An elderly woman loves exploring thrift shops. She might contribute in circular economy and local recycling programs.
Taming the hyperthreat is an enormous governance function. Yet, varying by location, some states are revealed to be weak, lame, and vulnerable, entangled in a destructive codependent relationship with hyperthreat enablers and unable to reconfigure at the hyperscale that is needed. An example is recent analysis of Australian government policy being heavily influenced — if not in some ways “captured” — by the fossil fuel sector.13
For this circumstance, a relevant conceptual model, the Duluth model, comes from research on domestic abuse. The Duluth model can be applied to CEC to inform deliberation on how to strengthen a state’s capacity to counter the hyperthreat (figure 7).14
A creative state refers to the idea that a nation state can transform in an intra-active way in response to new demands presented by the hyperthreat. The creative state can emerge as a far more powerful but just and agile entity, with increased agency to protect its people and natural systems.
For democratic nations, the creative state also refers to democratic repair, which includes devolution of greater decision-making, analysis, and resources to local levels. Details are not provided here, because the creative state’s form will emerge from societal-wide discourse and hyperconversations. However, at a strategic level, it will free itself from hyperthreat dependencies and move from being an enabler of the hyperthreat to a disabler of the hyperthreat.
In some regions of the world, PLAN E may offer an opportune time to reconfigure nation-state boundaries, which are remnants of colonialism and may be incongruent with local cultures or geographic practicalities and therefore aggravate people’s affective security.15
International Relations Realignment
The hyper-response requires the international relations, defense, and security sectors to rigorously consider how to achieve nation-state and geopolitical security in a way that is decoupled from the hyperthreat. The following offer some ideas:
- Establish a climate emergency peace treaty.A global ceasefire could be declared for between 2022 and 2030 to enable all nations to undertake an emergency hyper-response. New forms of multilateralism and cooperation could emerge, such as specific nations being assigned as lead developers of key technologies or expertise, and the innovation burden could be shared as well as global employment opportunities. The possibilities for mutually beneficial cooperative arrangements to achieve a hyper-response are likely to be extraordinary. Peace also links to Operation Sapiens Star, explained below, which focuses on humans as a species with common interests and an inevitably shared future. This may help overcome other national, cultural, social, gender, religious, or ethnic divides.
- Establish a new, neutral rules-based ordering structure.Given wide-ranging concerns about globalization, the performance of international organizations, and perceptions that the so-called “liberal rules-based order” holds lingering colonial power dimensions, an overarching conclusion is that the post-World War II global architecture, designed before the advent of CEC or the internet, is outdated and ripe for redesign.16 A new neutral rules-based order could be established, one that is based on ecological survival and safe Earth requirements. Akin to the 2015 Paris Agreement, this might be acceptable to all nations because all are threatened by the CEC hyperthreat. It is an approach that builds on environmental peacekeeping rationale.17
- Reimagine the role of great powers in the Anthropocene.It could be argued that any state with great power aspirations that does not consider CEC does not have a realistic or viable strategic outlook. Consequently, an old yet still critical question to raise is: What prospects are there to reconfigure great powers’ approach to geopolitical security in a way that aids containment of the hyperthreat? Possible angles include:
- Discourse at the deep framing level.Approaches and discourse need to occur at the deep framing level, which points to the need to harness the expertise of historians and cultural experts to enrich this discussion.
- Western humility.To facilitate a fresh start, it is proposed that the Western world acknowledge that following colonialism, events such as the Iraq War, and its historic and sometimes brutal role in developing and enabling the hyperthreat, that it — the Western world — is regarded as the main threat by many non-Western countries. Accordingly, to allow for a peaceful solution, payment in the form of reparations or a substantial commitment to support the global hyper-response burden on the part of the Western world may hasten a geopolitical shift toward an era of cooperation around the shared threat.
- Gentle wind down and redirection of fighting spirit.Given widespread preparations for myriad types of conflict, including increased psychological readiness, an aim to “wind down” tensions will need to be approached carefully. The hyperthreat narrative might assist in redirecting some of this pent-up energy toward the new mission of containing the hyperthreat. As a result, great militaries can be repurposed for preventing, for example, illegal fishing or fossil fuel extraction that will exceed planetary boundaries. Armed force may be required to dismantle oil rigs, prevent ecocide, and protect water supplies or forests. Diplomatic and espionage efforts can aid the hyper-response.
- Ecomultilateralism is the idea that instead of being aligned around human-designed political boundaries, multilateralism could align with ecological or climate boundaries. At a practical level, this would facilitate the care of ecosystems and disaster response.18
- Earth Citizenship.There are presently nearly 90 million forcibly displaced people around the world. Potentially, at least 18 million of these people may be available and eager to work.19 Current displaced people and prospective future climate refugees could be given the option to work for the hyper-response for a period of up to five years, which would not only provide them with skills and vocational training but also allow them to earn Earth citizenship. Nation states could be requested to incorporate new Earth citizens into their immigration policies, with special arrangements established for them to settle throughout the world and perhaps continue their CEC hyper-response work as part of nation-state responses. Large training institutions could be established in countries already absorbing large numbers of refugees — such as Turkey, Colombia, Uganda, Pakistan, or Jordon — in ways that benefit the host nation.
The scale of danger imposed by the CEC hyperthreat, and the speed and magnitude of the response required, leads to the conclusion that mobilization is required. The rationale for mobilization also draws upon the just war theory, whereby warfare — or mobilization against a threat — is regarded as a valid option if not doing so may incur general destruction, loss of autonomy (freedom), or risk to basic survival capacity.20
Inadequate action against the hyperthreat poses the same three risks.21 Mobilization is also important to achieving mass and speed of response to the hyperthreat. However, the principle of economy of effort also needs to be considered because of the likely high cost, difficulty, and disruption that a traditional-style approach (such as that of World Wars I or II) would impose. This leads to a layered approach:
- Mobilization-in-place. Mobilization-in-place refers to agencies, institutions, nongovernmental organizations, or companies remaining in their current form and location but reorienting their activities toward the hyper-response.
- Soft mobilization. Soft mobilization refers to people or groups regularly undertaking small and manageable tasks, such as the ways in which people participate in a local sporting club or community group.
- Mobilization and structured employment. This third prong is more energetic. It seeks to connect CEC hyper-response with a hyperscale employment, skills, and educational development strategy. This is the Green New Deal concept applied at a much larger, global level.22
- Veterans and mobilization. In some countries, most adults could be military veterans of one conflict or another, and many may be experiencing various forms of trauma. There is the possibility that work which involves repairing the world could offer these veterans some form of healing, especially those suffering moral injury.23Given numerous areas of overlapping skill and aptitude match, a tailored employment scheme linked to the CEC hyper-response could be the means for veterans to transition into civilian employment, reintegrate into society, and rehabilitate.
- Employment as peacebuilding. In fragile states, conflict or post-conflict areas, and disaster zones, the creation of a local hyper-response workforce will aim to meet planetary security needs at the same time as meeting human and state security needs. Essentially, meaningful employment is weaponized as a type of nonlinear strategy against both the hyperthreat and other destabilizing trends. There is an intention to “recruit” or poach people currently working for the hyperthreat (via terrorism, transnational crime, and especially environmental crime), because they previously had limited options for other employment, and have them work instead for the hyper-response.
- Earth citizenship. As described above, the HRF could offer livelihood and training opportunities for internally displaced persons and refugees, creating a pathway to a new form of citizenship.
The HRF design intends to operationalize entangled security (figure 8). It provides orchestration logic at ecoregional, nation-state, and local levels and is expected to vary according to context. It comprises four main task groups: HRF support; planetary security; human security; and state security.
The hyper-response commences with five major operations pursed across multiple task forces. The operations are listed below, while a more detailed explanation of their objectives and tasking follows:
- Operation Visible and Knowable (OP VAK). Makes the hyperthreat visible and knowable across the spectrum of society to enable organic response.
- Operation Beauty (OP Beauty). Protects, restores, and strengthens ecosystems. Rescues humanity’s most important ally in the fight against the hyperthreat: nature.
- Operation New Net (OP NewNet). Builds a new material security system for humans that is ecologically viable and just to liberate humanity from hyperthreat control.
- Operation Sapiens Star (OP Sapiens Star). Optimizes Homo sapiens’ capability, wellbeing, and health to create the strongest HRF possible and achieve a mission which is significant on the galactic scale.
- Operation Wide Wings (OP WideWings). Provides exceptional levels of safety and support across planetary, human, and state security spheres during disasters and emergencies to match new hyperthreat realities, enhance affective security, and maintain HRF strength.
Task Force: HRF Support
HRF support activities are orientated around coordination, learning, the capacity to see and know the CEC hyperthreat, and improving understanding of effective hyper-response. Two of its most significant tasks will be managing OP VAK and hyperconversations:
Operation Visible and Knowable
OP VAK is a concerted effort to make the hyperthreat visible and knowable across the broad spectrum of society. This has practical, educational aspects, including increasing CEC literacy and improving ecoproduct and services labeling. It also links to the integration of CEC into the remit of mainstream intelligence agencies.
To address sensory and affective knowing, as well as the deep framing and meaning-making dimension of hyperthreat “knowing,” it will partner with the communications, arts, and humanities sectors in line with the “60,000 artists” concept.24 It will also harness the potential of virtual reality technologies, which have already proven effective in CEC communication.25 Finally, it will involve fast-tracking relevant research and improved mechanisms for conveying and sharing research and knowledge.
A hyper-response, which prospectively creates impacts across the whole of society, is such a large undertaking that ideally it requires a mandate from the people. Yet, achieving a mandate would be dependent on population groups understanding their full predicament. Accordingly, OP VAK will also facilitate a society-wide hyperconversation.
This hyperconversation operationalizes continuous discourse, including its differentiation and emergent framing aspects. It aims to assist people in developing their own ways of framing and conceiving the problem that makes sense given their social, cultural, and environmental contexts.
As depicted in table 1, the hyperconversation also reflects a slower, more deliberate approach to discourse; this acknowledges damaged democratic processes and fractured societal social cohesion. Its optimal design would require input from other relevant disciplines and expertise, such as the Nobel prize-winning bottom-up decision-making work by the late American political economist Elinor C. Ostrom.26
Hyperconversations: a three-tiered approach to sense-making activities
|Tribal discussions. People remain within ideological cohesive groups to undertake threat deliberation and response planning. For example, “elite wealth or power” would be a distinct group, rather than the “managers” of the discourse. Black Lives Matter advocates, coal workers, single parents, creatives, people in the construction industry, teachers, teenage girls, elderly LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex), dairy farmers, or evangelists could be other distinct groups, depending upon people’s preferences.
|A structured and disciplined process whereby various societal or ideological tribes listen to each other’s perspectives and analysis. This involves an understanding that one form of “matter” or “other” cannot really know the condition of others. Matter — human or otherwise — must speak for itself, not be spoken for.
|A stretch goal that involves all types of tribes collaborating at the highest level. New understandings, concepts, and synergistic solutions “emerge” from authentic listening and through a genuine desire for mutual understanding to create the best solutions for all. Emergent framing proposes that the best ideas or best concepts have not yet emerged because the preparatory work that would allow them to emerge has not occurred. Consequently, PLAN E involves creating the conditions for emergent framing to occur. Emergent framing also proposes that because of the entangled and effervescent nature of reality, as well as the reactive and changeable nature of life with a hyperthreat, accurate framing remains an ongoing and dynamic activity, not a static one-off. Again, PLAN E sets the parameters and structures in place to allow optimum response to a world in flux, which involves creating structures and systems and institutions that support ongoing emergent framing and hyperconversations.
Source: courtesy of the author, adapted by MCUP.
Task Force: Planetary Security
At an institutional design level, the most significant new initiative is the raising of a planetary security capability. This is conceived as involving at least 20 million people, prospectively several billion. For phases 1 and 2, this will be the main effort. This is the way in which it is envisioned that the bulk of the Earth citizenship workforce and other workers would be employed. In practical terms, it would involve expanding existing successful global citizen initiatives as well as creating new capabilities. It comprises two major operations:
The aim of OP Beauty is to protect, restore, and strengthen ecosystems. Conservation offers huge cleanup and restoration activities that link to natural climate solutions.27 At a narrative level, OP Beauty could be described as a type of global “backyard blitz” or an enormous global cleanup work party. It represents a rescue operation of humanity’s friends and its most important ally in the fight against the hyperthreat: nature.
While exact tasking would require specialist advice, low-skill activity might involve collecting rubbish from beaches, oceans, and rivers; habitat restoration; tree replanting activities; and increasing resources to address environmental crime.
The naming of OP Beauty deliberately signposts a secondary objective: wishing to reestablish human’s affective bonds with nature. Consequently, OP Beauty involves rewilding as both a practical conservation activity and as a means to build empathic connections to nature — to “rewild our hearts.”28
This will be a multipronged approach that works with OP VAK and OP Sapiens Star around people’s sense of wonder and planetary belonging as well as their fitness, well-being, and health needs. Indigenous people will be invited to lead this part of the operation. It will also form a key plank of new peacebuilding approaches across cultural and religious divides, building upon multifaith ecotheological “creation care” approaches.
Operation New Net
The aim of OP NewNet is to build a new material security system for humans that is ecologically viable and just. The hyperthreat at present has humanity entangled in a type of enormous material security net on which it has become dependent for energy, shelter, transport, food and even water. Accordingly, OP NewNet aims to build a new ecologically viable form of material security and assist humanity unravel from the old net and transition onto the new net.
A critical requirement is to hold humanity and creatures safely throughout the process, to ensure that the new net is in place before they are asked to jump, and to hold their hands firmly as they make the jump. This will require a type of leadership that accepts vulnerability and is able to provide strength and care to people while they are in this phase. The strong members of human society must step up. This will involve raising new workforce capabilities, to include transition teams and ecocoaches.
Similar to the way in which oil field executives were invited to Washington, DC, to help the United States mobilize during World War II, the hyper-response will adopt a similar approach to the task of building a new material security net. Leaders in the areas of renewable energy, zero emissions and ecological design, resource eagles, defense, and other relevant research and development fields, as well as tradespeople, will be invited to plan and deliver one of the largest engineering and human training and employment feats in world history. OP NewNet will jump-start humanity’s fight back against the hyperthreat.
As trades skills are identified as a critical capability for OP NewNet and other parts of PLAN E, they require drastic expansion. Historically, tradespeople have not often been included in climate or security policy formulation. However, because of the criticality of tradespeople to the mission and issues of fairness, the hyper-response will integrate more tradespeople into PLAN E leadership and planning roles.29
Task Force: Human Security
Ethics of care informs an approach to human security that begins with the emotional, psychological, and physical security needs of individuals and filters up to the needs of households, communities and then through to nations and the global community. It also acknowledges that increased vulnerability, volatility, and danger signify a need for greater caring capacity, preparedness, redundancy, stockpiles, contingency options, and checks and balances. It aims to create more buffers that can absorb shocks. People will receive exceptional support in times of crisis. This approach is achieved through all task forces, with the human security task force to lead OP Sapiens Star and make a major contribution to OP WideWings.
Operation Sapiens Star
The aim of OP Sapiens Star is to optimize Homo sapiens’ capability, well-being, and health to create the strongest HRF possible. In the twenty-first century, during the Anthropocene, humans go from being a destructive force to a restorative force at a planetary level. In Latin, the word sapiens means “wise.”
The Homo sapiens will embody this meaning by realizing a new way of being. At the level of universes and galaxies, Homo sapiens will shine like bright stars because of the remarkable turnaround they achieve on Earth and their generous reparations to the nonhuman.
To achieve this feat, humans will need to be operating at their highest capacity. Accordingly, OP Sapiens Star is about strengthening people so that they can achieve this universally significant mission.
Greater efforts will be made to provide people very solid security at the individual, household, and community level.30 This will involve an objective of first lifting burdens and stresses from people and then providing them additional support. To lift burdens through a transition to renewable energy, one objective will be to ensure that most households or businesses have no or very low energy and transportation bills.
Another objective will be to lift student debts and create greater employment security, perhaps through a universal income scheme.31 A jobs hub will create the capacity to place people in either low-, medium-, or high-intensity work roles within the HRF to accommodate individual needs and manage employment surge requirements. To avoid burnout, especially among emergency services personnel, there will be structured efforts to dual-train people and to cycle them through high-stress or demanding roles through to low-stress roles and periods of deep rest and revitalization.32
Additionally, care work will be remunerated. Far more research and development and resourcing will be committed to support parenting, families, and vulnerable people. The research and development budget can be imagined as similar to a major weapon platform purchase, though research and development would be carried out in close consultations with families and communities, in combination with selected ecovisionaries and design experts. These ideas inform the home force concept.
For highly vulnerable groups, such as domestic abuse victims, and for some extremely violent or dangerous locations, establishing gated, high-security ecocommunities may be an appropriate option. Specialist capabilities will be developed to suit various community contexts, such as drug addiction, gang violence, racism, or sexual assault. Culture and wellbeing initiatives will be revitalized and resourced at the community level.
Barriers that inhibit talent contributing to the hyperthreat, such as cognitive bias or structural barriers, must be overcome through improved human talent and skill management. The home force group will pursue OP Sapiens Star objectives in a way that accords with OP NewNet objectives. Design practices will be needed to achieve this.33
Operation Wide Wings
OP WideWings aims to provide exceptional levels of safety and support across planetary, human, and state security spheres during disasters and emergencies. It spans from home force actions that build disaster resilience and strength at local and community levels through to ecoregional disaster response capabilities.
Domestic capabilities will be designed so that they can be deployed to support regional or international surge requirements. In general, disaster response capabilities will be expanded to match the demands of the hyperthreat and a deteriorating security context.
The term disaster response is used in lieu of humanitarian assistance and disaster response to acknowledge that disaster response now extends beyond humans to an entangled security context. In other words, disaster response planning must now consider the needs of wildlife, fisheries, farm animals, pets, soil health, zoo creatures, rivers, ecological habitats, and state infrastructure.
Disaster response will incorporate a new capability called ecorebuild squads. Anticipating more extreme weather events that will destroy human settlements and ecological regions, ecorebuild squads specialize in ecologically sound urban and building design and construction as well as landscape and ecological restoration activities. The simple idea is that after a disaster, locations are retrofitted with not only functional but also beautiful new towns or urban spheres that are purpose-built to suit local preferences and future climatic and environmental conditions (figure 9).
Figure 9. Oman Botanic Garden in Muscat, Oman
“Oman Botanic Garden, Muscat, Oman,” Grimshaw Architects.
Holding zones are large-scale temporary accommodation facilities that include training facilities such as classrooms and lecture halls as well as rudimentary recreational facilities. Given early warning of an impending extreme weather event, or in its immediate aftermath, large populations groups can be transported out of the disaster zone and placed in these holding zones.
Accordingly, while population groups wait in holding zones, aside from receiving trauma support and conducting care-oriented activities, there is the possibility that they can work with ecorebuild designers to plan a replacement settlement to suit their unique requirements. Additionally, to achieve longevity of solutions while in the holding zone, people can attend classes to learn how to use new ecologically smart designs and technologies. On moving into the new facilities, they may also be supported by ecocoaches.
For conflict zones and areas of general insecurity, there is the potential for disaster response activities to contribute to peace-building objectives. Disaster response support provides a genuine and tangible expression of goodwill, which may help defuse geopolitical tensions. Conversely, if such complex circumstances are not responded to effectively, there is also the likelihood of exasperated chaos, suffering, or “threat multiplier” dynamics taking hold. Accordingly, disaster response capabilities designed for conflict zones require careful analysis, planning and recalibration. Some considerations include:
- Integral security capacity.Any deployable disaster response within a conflict zone must have the capacity to protect its own operations and those it is helping from violent force and malevolent interference.
- Wake forces.Insecure, vulnerable populations are easily exploited by a range of predators and need protection in the aftermath of a major shock event. Accordingly, a new capacity called a “wake force” will be raised, which is tailored for human security and population protection tasking. Its name reflects how it operates like the wake of a boat, in that it follows up combat forces or major hyperthreat actions.34
- Ecological damage response.Specialist ecological and veterinary expertise will be required in a nonhuman-centered approach to threat and disaster response. It is likely that greater research and development effort is required to develop this capability to provide improved rapid solutions to situations like oil spills or soil or water contamination.
At a most optimistic level, a grand ambition would be for the international community to offer to support ecorebuilds of settlements destroyed in the recent wars in the Middle East and other conflicts or disasters. These rebuilds could act as symbolic icons of a new pathway toward global peace and reconciliation among humans and between humanity and other matter.
This would also accord with entangled security justice principles related to retribution for past wrongs and new ethical approaches to strengthening the “other” in acknowledgment of inherent interconnection. For all involved, ecorebuilds have the potential to create meaningful, dignified work and living, as the narrative shifts from being a destroyer to a builder.
To avoid the failures of past “nation building” or development approaches, one approach could involve large numbers of citizens from the conflict-damaged location being given free ecobuilding and other zero-emissions technology vocational training in another neutral country as mutually suitable.
An aspiration vision might see cities such as Mosul or Baghdad in Iraq rebuilt with the most advanced ecodesigns available, which acknowledges the dignity and grandeur of their history and cultural identity. Such cities would be demonstrational of exciting new ecodesign as well as beautiful gestures and symbols of reconciliation. Ecorebuilds may accord with Muslim aspirations for a revived yet peaceful Islamic state (figures 10, 11, and 12).
Figure 10. Education in the Islamic Golden Age
Figure 11. The round city of Baghdad, ca. tenth century.
Source: Artwork by Abbasid Bagdad. Rights: Science Photo Library.
Figure 12. “Dohasis Vision” ecological design in the Middle East
Image by Albandari Alharami, Heba AlGuhani, Hessa Al Hajri, and Maryam Abbara from “Dohasis: The Biourban Restoration of Doha,” Urbanista, no. 3 (2016).
Subsequent major trials could involve global expertise being used to redesign major urban “slum” cities in parts of Africa, South Asia, or South America. In general, wealthy and technologically able countries can more actively support poorer countries to achieve a zero-emissions ecodesign and local food and water security. This method would need to be conceived as new noncolonial approach to existing but flawed “helper” systems, providing help and care with integrity, muscle, and speed.
Task Force: State Security
Nation-state security policy and activity pivots toward supporting the hyper-response. It also responds to the phenomenon that the threat has shifted from being mostly external to increasingly operating “internal” to the state (figure 13). It comprises three objectives:
- To outmaneuver the hyperthreat by design and dispersal;
- To create an offensive and pursuit capability (the point force) to find, track, and deplete the hyperthreat; and
- To provide security support and an enabling operating environment for the larger civil-led HRF.
The hyperthreat can be outmaneuvered by humans reconfiguring their activities in two ways: security by design and security by dispersal. National security in the Anthropocene is increasingly achieved by designing systems and settlements so that enhanced security is incorporated from the start.
For example, it can be imagined that each time a person refuels a car with petrol, this action empowers the hyperthreat. This leads to global warming, which creates ocean acidification and in turn reduced fish stocks, while also creating pressures for resource wars, thereby influencing whether a soldier or civilian dies and how much taxpayer resources are required for material security missions.
In contrast, zero-emission transportation technologies can “design out” the slow violence and threats associated with a fossil-fuel-intensive lifestyle. This is similar for plastic use, in which case the “threat” is embodied in the high polluting design of consumable products and lifestyle activities.
Likewise, other health threats and longer-term costs are embodied in hidden toxins or sugars in food products. Accordingly, peace, health, and a different form of national prosperity can be created through design, which requires a longer-term and mesh-intervention viewpoint. OP VAK has a role to play in achieving security and safety by design by linking apparently benign activities with their devastating impacts.
The military tactic of dispersal can be applied to the hyperthreat and general security dynamics in the twenty-first century. Shifting from highly centralized systems to localized supply chains, renewable energy, and other off-grid solutions weakens the hyperthreat but also concurrently reduces other security risks, as the following three examples illustrate.
The first example involves attacks on critical infrastructure. There has been a boom of research on the vulnerability of industrial-era human settlements’ critical infrastructure — the major arterials that keep the modern world functioning — such as energy, transport, cyber, and water networks.36
Here, attack or sabotage by malicious insiders who use social engineering tactics to gain access is viewed at least as seriously as external attacks.37 Nevertheless, critical infrastructure literature and discourse have been critiqued for framing this discussion too narrowly, effectively “securitizing” the discussion at the expense of understanding interlinked environmental and social dimensions and therefore containing how the “critical” category is determined.38
One example of a siloed approach to critical infrastructure is the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection’s framework and action plan, which focuses on reducing vulnerability to terror attacks but does not consider integrating climate or environmental dimensions.39
Instead of approaching critical infrastructure protection as another systems maintenance task, the hyper-response takes advantage of ecoinnovation.40 Distributed and localized energy, food, water, and manufacturing solutions mean that the capacity to disrupt the arterials that keep society functioning is reduced. As an example, many citizens and communities rely on one centralized water supply.
If these citizens and communities had water tanks and smaller-scale local water supply, this means that if a terror group or other malevolent actor decided to contaminate major national water supplies — or if the hyperthreat itself damaged major central systems — far fewer people would be at risk, and the overall disruption would be less significant. This offers a “security from the ground up” approach, and it applies to other dimensions such as health, food, and energy security.
The second example involves attacks on global fossil fuel supply. Many nations are dependent on uninterrupted fossil fuel supplies. This vulnerability can be exploited by adversaries and therefore external fuel supply also imposes a security protection burden. On the other hand, aggressive pursuit of zero-emissions transportation solutions not only helps dilute the hyperthreat but also enhances nation states’ resilience to the hyperthreat, while reducing the threat to a range of ecological systems affected by fossil fuel-extraction operations.
The third example involves local manufacture and supply. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the risks associated with reliance on long globalized supply chains, which are energy- and resource-intensive and therefore help power the hyperthreat. Increasing local manufacturing and supply capacities helps deflate the hyperthreat and reduces risks associated with stockouts of critical items. Circular economies, which incorporate closed-loop manufacturing and recycling systems, can now be viewed as critical to achieving planetary security.
Point Force: Offensive Operations
The point force is meant to develop the fairest possible economic and legal plan to underpin the hyper-response and reduce the hyperthreat’s freedom of action. The word point is used to highlight the fact that this task force confronts the most difficult (or “pointy”) aspect of the transition. Specialist legal and economic expertise is required to address the problem of the hyperthreat having high freedom of movement and the notion that laws and governance mechanisms have not yet been adjusted to account for new ways in which severe harm is inflicted on others in the CEC era.
Tom Burgis’s book Kleptopia: How Dirty Money Is Conquering the World provides a disturbing insight into this “freedom of movement” problem and underscores how skilled and capable the “tracking harm” function will need to be to counter the fiscal dimension of the hyperthreat’s operations.41 The word offensive in the point force’s operation refers to targeted actions toward diffusing the hyperthreat and overlaps with climate mitigation approaches.
The point force is envisioned as drawing from the burgeoning field of ethical approaches to business, economics, and ecoentrepreneurialism, as invigorated by the French economist Thomas Piketty, plus environmental law and animal law.42 Ethics, culture, and stakeholder outreach experts would also be used to ensure optimum equity, minimal disruption, and a focus on positive incentive-led approaches. While its activities are best designed by experts, the point force’s initial outline capabilities and options are described below.
The point force is oriented toward achieving larger social-good outcomes. It needs the authority to override extant laws and economic arrangements that hamper the hyper-response, while also mitigating negative impacts of such changes.
For example, if a broad goal is to ensure that retirees are adequately cared for, the mechanism to achieve this can be flexible. Consequently, if a superannuation fund’s activities impede the hyper-response, contracts can be overridden as long as retiree care is achieved some other way. Other outcome-oriented innovations to be considered include universal income schemes, funding care work and home-based resilience work, and developing capacity for managing surge funding, such as during disaster response, so that resources reach the intended recipients in a timely manner.43
The point force will develop a tracking harm capacity, informed by the harm-to-help ethic. In the way in which medical doctors use dynastic dye to identify disease in the human body, tracking harm refers to the ability to identify who and what activities are causing the most harm, or which are most empowering the hyperthreat and contributing to slow violence.44
Tracking harm does not refer to the bulk of society who may be locked into some greenhouse gas-intensive lifestyle activities by existing infrastructure or those who are embarking on greenhouse gas transition strategies in good faith. Their greenhouse gas reduction activity will be monitored through the 2015 Paris Agreement’s nationally determined contributions (NDC) reporting schemes.
Rather, tracking harm acknowledges that subterfuge is already part of the hyperthreat’s modus operandi, which may become more sophisticated as the Paris Agreement progresses. Tracking harm targets conscious deceptive and illegal activity that creates harm for other matter. There are concerns about achieving transparency and honesty in NDC reporting.45 Further, there is already illegal activity in existence, such as the black market for oil.46 Given that the hyperthreat is able to exploit the lack of monitoring and governance capacity within the poorest nations of the world, a revitalized approach to “helping” may involve support to bolster this capacity in poorer nations.
The harm-to-help ethic acknowledges the difficulty of many extant systems and methods being geared toward harm-doing. Therefore, wherever possible, the first approach is to identity the harm-doing, then assist the actors, agency, or company in question to transition their activities toward practices that help the hyper-response. For example, if the tracking harm team identifies perpetrators who are consciously engaging in harm-doing, response options will be wider than punitive action, to include referring some cases to the hyperthreat transition team.47
Defense, the Defense Industry,
the Military, and State Security
The nation-state defense sector will provide an important enabling and support role. Intelligence agencies and policy setting institutions will be tasked with mainstreaming “entangled security” logic into activities and reorientating analytical and policy focus toward containing the hyperthreat and enabling a hyper-response.
The defense industry will need to focus on transitioning military equipment, bases, and vehicles onto zero-carbon and ecologically viable pathways; supporting OP NewNet in developing and implementing new approaches to material security; and providing technological, engineering, and other research and development support for the HRF to develop new HRF planetary and human security capabilities.
Defense forces will be tasked with numerous objectives. Crucially, they will need to create and maintain secure conditions to allow the larger civil HRF, as well as “helpers” in general, to undertake their work. They will also need to support planetary security tasking, such as through providing security patrols and surveillance support and by providing training, advice, and mentorship services.
If policing and other governance efforts are overwhelmed, defense forces need to be prepared to use force to prevent ecocide, protect fisheries and forests, and prevent illegal resource extraction and other activity that may threaten planetary boundaries. Potentially, they will be required to shut down or dismantle fossil fuel-extraction facilities, which may be protected by armed force. It is envisioned that demining capabilities will be required to increase available farmland and as part of ecological habitat restoration.
Defense forces will also need to develop intelligence and surveillance techniques to support the tracking harm function of the point force, with a focus on those elements of the hyperthreat that are deemed most dangerous and which may use violent means, such as black markets in oil, armed ecocide, and environmental criminals.
When it comes to human security, and depending on final HRF force structure design, defense forces may be part of an expanded disaster response capacity. They will provide or contribute to wake forces and support human security through tailored training, advise and assist, and mentorship services. In general, defense forces will transition military education and training methods to develop entangled security concepts, planners, and operation management capabilities in collaboration with the HRF support task force.
Finally, defense forces must be prepared to “democratize” threat analysis and planning response methods to enable a wider range of specialists to contribute to threat conceptualization and response and to design bespoke solutions at local, regional, vocational, and industry levels. This includes management of ready centers and provision of mentoring and coaching support to the point force and gated ecosafe zones.48
They will also need to be prepared to shift from a centralized military toward a local- or regional-based military and security recruitment, training, and operations system, which incorporates dual career paths for military and emergency services personnel. This acknowledges the need to provide rapid response to local hyperthreat impacts and provide sophisticated response through familiarity with local areas, climates, ecologies, institutions, and people.
Defense force structure and design needs to be adapted to match the nature of an entangled security context. This involves achieving redundancy and survivability through force dispersion and by creating a systemic solution to address the problem of “forever wars,” so characterized by decades of high intensity operations, and the lack of adequate respite and refreshment for servicemembers. A shift toward a dispersed, more localized force potentially introduces other benefits, such as improving support for servicemembers’ families, bridging the distance between militaries and their communities, and helping share the security burden across the population.
He who is ignorant of mountain and forest, defile and marsh, cannot lead an army.
~ Sun Tzu49
Agential realism draws from the behavior of “unruly” electrons that make quantum leaps to propose that the very nature of existence involves abrupt change, and that predictable trajectories are not the only possibility. Here, in PLAN E, the concept of entangled security translates this idea into meaning that humanity itself can make a great sudden leap. As a species, it can absorb the signs of systemic collapse, register the severe threat to its life support system, and make an explosive sudden change, all within five years.
Rather than passively wait to be inflicted with abrupt change by the hyperthreat, humanity can itself become an agent of abrupt change. This is the vision of OP Sapiens Star — that human’s evolution is not finished, and that the hyperthreat provides the impetus for a quantum leap into a new way of being. Through achieving a galactically significant mission — saving Earth’s ecological integrity — the Homo sapiens species “stars” within the universe. Humans go from being a menace and fighting one another to being heroic, creative, and tolerant.
Intrastate warfare, forms of material security that harm the planet, and cumbersome, weak governance mechanisms that no longer match the scale of the problem can be upgraded to the hyper-level mission. The “race for what’s left” security pathway, which would see the hyperthreat triumph, is not the only option. Humanity’s appetite and enthusiasm for fighting and warfare can be redirected to the masked but most dangerous threat: the hyperthreat. Though humanity has yet to properly identify the hyperthreat or mobilize to defeat it, it has vast amounts of latent talent, skills, and capabilities for doing so.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.