It’s May 8th and it’s snowing. The city next to us is in a state of emergency flooding. Of course that’s nothing compared to the disasters we hear about in other countries.
We know there’s a problem at the core of all this but we can’t seem to do anything to stop it.
We can send a rocket to Mars but we can’t seem to get together and help restore the planet. It seems silly that we can be so smart in creating technology yet so stupid when it comes to working together towards a common goal. A goal that not only benefits all of humanity but the all future generations.
We’re changing the planets temperature. This isn’t news. But we’re helpless. We have no idea how to contribute. Do we have to buy solar panels? Should we learn to restore soil? What do we have to do to win this fight?
Part of the problem is that we’re only playing defensively. We’re quick to fix a disaster but then we go on to our regular day. We are putting bandaids on the problem. You can’t win a game on the defence. Substituting one technology over another helps but it’s not an offensive move unless that technology moves carbon and water from the atmosphere back into the soil. We need leaders who want to make an impact. We need real solutions that not only manage but restore the earth to pre-industrial ages.
Of course there’s another problem with this. It’s all intertwined with profit.
Companies like Nestle who choose to suck water out of lakes to bottle it up and sell it, even in times of draught don’t care. Companies like Shell who’s flaring produces as much greenhouse gas as 18 million cars and destroying land and entire communities don’t care.
We need to buy from people who care.
We need to learn from CEO’s like Ray Anderson who’s figured out how to make a profit while thriving with sustainability.
We need investors to invest in companies that believe in sustainability.
And we need to stay optimistic because believing it’s possible is what drives change.
And most of all we need to demand sustainability everywhere.
It’s a complex solution.
In the world of capitalism, companies have to make a profit and if there’s no demand for sustainability they can’t sell it. The less they sell the more expensive it is for the company and the consumer. So there needs to be more demand for sustainability.
What drives demand? Culture. What drives culture? Stories. What’s the most scalable type of stories? Movies.
Movies are the most powerful influencers of our culture. A simple look at the history of propaganda can show you this. Story as influence has been talked about as far back as Socrates. They gather people together sending you on an emotional roller coaster ride. Movies like Robo Cop or Back to the future paint a picture of the future that people can then comprehend. Seeing the picture allows us to start working towards it – as we have.
We need more producers like Jeff Skoll who is producing movies that matter.
Culture will help but we’re going to have to change on an individual level.
Given the choice many of us still act on instinct. We wait for a disasters before we act. We see this come up in our daily lives. The person who waits for a heart attack to start exercising. Or the person who goes broke before they start to budget their money. It’s that old short-term gratification problem. We would rather take a magic pill than change the way we eat.
This is a big challenge because it comes down to self-descipline.
Choosing what’s right over what’s fast, fun or easy.
That’s a lot of challenges to conquer. But I’m optimistic. I’m optimistic because the internet has allowed us to connect. The fact that you can read this gives me hope. I’m also optimistic because women are starting to have more power. The word “mother” in mother nature is no accident. Women can save the earth. I don’t just mean women but the gentler more “women like” side of men too. Mothers are nurturers. They plant seeds. They think beyond profit.
The solution may not be clear. We may not be perfect. But if we work together and use our magic powers of empathy, wisdom and imagination I’m confident we can change the world.
Also published on Medium.