Appendix C

Grand Narrative: Initial Themes


Elizabeth G. Boulton, PhD

  1. The nature of threat has changed. As the twenty-first century progresses, the way in which threats manifest, or how killing, destruction, violence, and harm will increasingly occur, has changed. Accordingly, the way in which people, societies, and ecosystems are protected must also change.
  2. Threat behaviors, not identities. Sociological research on hate crimes and genocide provides strong reasons to avoid creating labels such as “enemy.” A less divisive approach is to focus on behaviors, actions, and decisions that create threats for others, rather than on threat identities. The hyperthreat frame achieves these two objectives: it avoids assigning a threat identity, but neither does it obscure the new ways in which violence and harm-doing are caused.
  3. Harm-to-help. In the twenty-first century, people gain a very sharp understanding of which activities and practices create longer-term harm, or which actions create slow violence or empower the climate and environmental change (CEC) hyperthreat. Subsequently, people and groups may organically reorientate from being aligned with the hyperthreat to being part of the hyper-response, operationalizing a harm-to-help ethic.
  4. Nation states weakened from within. Future threats increasingly include “internal” types of threats, which erode nation states—and thereby citizen security—from within.
  5. Current systems are part of the problem. Instead of continuing to prop up ailing systems, it is time for metamorphosis and massive (or hyper) reconfiguration.
  6. Hyper-scale thinking. Humanity begins to think on a much larger scale, scaling up to match the hyperlevel complexity it faces. The hyper-response is in proportion to the complexity, difficulty, and danger posed by the hyperthreat.
  7. Fuse the old with the new. Bespoke “new” solutions to responding to the hyperthreat can be created, while “old” concepts such as mobilization, bravery, allies, preparedness, vanguards, reserves, fighting spirit, and so on, can be reimagined.
  8. Now. PLAN E must commence immediately because of the physics-based requirement to adhere to ecological timeframes, and because this formidable transformation must be well underway before hyperthreat impacts become too prohibitive.
  9. Truth. The era of “fake news,” spin, and deceit is rejected. The capacity to confront truth is now understood as critical to human survival.
  10. Climate for peace. Dual logic can be used to make a stronger argument for a new approach to full-spectrum global security and potentially create a new era of global peacefulness. There are now two major reasons why the CEC hyperthreat must be urgently addressed: to prevent dangerous global warming and to reduce geopolitical conflict relating to resources, especially access to fossil fuels.1
  11. Reimaging the role of great powers in the Anthropocene. It can be argued that any state with great power aspirations that does not consider CEC does not have a realistic or viable strategic outlook.2 What prospects are there to reconfigure the approaches of great powers to geopolitical security in a way that aids containment of the hyperthreat? For example, could China achieve greatness by becoming a global ecomanufacturing hub, whereby greenhouse gas and pollution reduction is ideologically underpinned by Confucian ideals of harmony? Relevant cultural experts and historians could explore such issues more profoundly for each nation.
  12. Identity and Operation Sapiens Star. The term sapiens highlights the idea that despite differences in social status, culture, nationality, gender, race, ethnicity, or religion, humanity is one species—“we” are all Homo sapiens. Operation Sapiens Star refers to the idea that in the face of the hyperthreat, Homo sapiens evolve as a species and spectacularly saves its life support system (Earth). Human evolution is not finished, and humanity becomes greater. As a species, Homo sapiens begin to “star” within the universe.
  13. Equity and equality. For groups marginalized by old power structures, cultures and systems, there is now a chance to participate in the creation of something new. PLAN E offers the opportunity to realize and express sidelined agency and capability.
  14. Philosophy is back. Rather than being the preserve of niche academics or other highly educated people, as humanity undertakes the formidable task of extracting itself from its dangerous predicament and charting a pathway to a viable future, philosophy offers an important handrail. Societal-wide discussions occur to assist humanity review its threat horizon and response options and consider associated philosophical questions, such as the implications for ethics, and notions such as freedom and justice. The notion of entangled security provides a conversation starting point (figure C-1). In general, philosophy needs to be made accessible and considered an important part of both strategy-making and the 100-year hyper-response mission.
  15. It is time for honest discussion and learning. Grand narrative development must be a bottom-up and societal-wide endeavor. A focus will be upon repairing capacity for honest and effective discourse, which may involve participatory democratic methods or world cafĂ©-style methodologies. While there are currently good structures in place to support young people’s education, PLAN E will likely require a significant supporting adult education and training component as well. In general, adults are encouraged to approach PLAN E with a “learner’s” mind-set.


Figure C-1. Entangled security: philosophy on a page

Source: courtesy of the author, adapted by MCUP.


  1. Doug Stokes, “Blood for Oil?: Global Capital, Counter-Insurgency and the Dual Logic of American Energy Security,” Review of International Studies 33, no. 2 (April 2007): 245–64,
  2. The term realistic draws on Karen Barad’s definition of agential realism, whereby realism is “not about representations of an independent reality but about the real consequences, interventions, creative possibilities, and responsibilities of intra-acting within and as part of the world.” Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 37. It also accords with Sally McFague’s “return to earth” (or “get real”) ecofeminist theological approach. Sallie McFague, A New Climate for Theology: God, the World, and Global Warming (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2008). It contrasts with traditional foreign affairs studies, which regard realpolitik as involving pragmatic pursuits for power and dominance. 



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