In comparison to the headlong flight towards more technological fixes, self-restraint and humility in admitting our human limitations present far fewer dangers. But could it work? Self-restraint clearly failed to abolish slavery in the American South --- nothing bar a war succeeded. But the future is not written, and we can learn from our mistakes. History suggests that in order to reduce the risk of runaway climate change, governments and people should push for incremental self-restraint while making sure people are offered an alternative to fossil fuels.