Friday, January 01, 2016

Only real win-win scenario

Image capture from on December 31st, 2015, at 18:00 GMT.
Another year has passed with a gigantic human footprint on the planet, unfortunately a very negative one. Yet, there are reasons to revitalize optimism in the wake of 2016. By some accounts, 2015 saw a worldwide reduction in carbon emissions in relation to economic growth, which would confirm a tendency already suggested in 2014, when emissions remained constant even though the global economy grew. But that’s not the point. The point is that we are still pouring 35 billion metric tons of a highly toxic gas that will remain in the atmosphere for centuries, as a result of aggregate human activity in all corners of the planet. [To put this figure in perspective, a metric ton of carbon fills up a sphere that is 10 meters in diameter and if we would enter in it, we would die in less than 10 minutes.]

At this stage of the XXI Century, no one can deny, question or pretend to ignore the effect civilization has on the atmosphere, precisely the bubble that holds the conditions to support life on Earth, the only planet in the known universe of which we have scientific proof that life exists.

It is urgent for our generation, as it starts to take the lead worldwide in high-impact, public and private decision-making, to place, atop our list of strategic priorities, innovation and design to reinvent all human endeavors and channel them towards a new paradigm of regenerative development. It suggests to create and distribute wealth while recovering natural capital, which is the source of all inputs and raw materials used in agricultural, industrial and digital production and provision of services, and, at the same time, enables the flourishing and coexistence of all life forms that precisely enrich and feed back into that very capital. This is the only real win-win scenario there is.

I am not suggesting abandoning capitalism, consumerism or hedonism. Each person must be individually responsible for his or her ideologies, ideals and values. It is, nevertheless, absolutely mandatory, to unconditionally comply with the ethical maxim of sustainability, so that all life forms fit in the planet forever. There is no business on a dead planet and we have no plan(et) B.

The climate action required by the Earth is not a responsibility or interest of a few of us. Everyone, without exception, is a crew member on this spacecraft that travels at a very high velocity around the sun, within the solar system, inside a galaxy among billions in a universe that keeps expanding into the vast unknown. We must learn fast and implement public and private policies that result in regenerative development, since there is nothing more important for any rational, sensible and sane human organization –be it a corporation, school, cult or family— to guarantee its existence beyond the lifespan of their current members.

More of this is what we need urgently, and I mean, a matter of life or death. I know 2016 will bring greater climatic challenges and a more shocking reality, but also a more authentic and effective leadership in search for solutions. It is not difficult to achieve the required transformation, but it is certainly impossible if we do not try.