The Cost of Lost Opportunity We Cannot Afford
As we fight climate change every battle counts.
Who remembers the Italian journalist Riccardo Ehrman “who brought down the Berlin Wall” with questions. What would have been a boring press conference became a historic moment when Ehrman immediately understood the opportunity at hand and the effect Günter Schabowski’s words would have on lifting travel restrictions. Within hours of the press conference, the Berlin Wall was being torn down.
“The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” Bill O’Brien
No one speaks out of line in any of the TED events. So when youth activist Lauren MacDonald did and confronted Shell CEO Ben van Beurden during a climate panel organized by TED Countdown I was blown away by the boldness. But then she walked away. I saw an opportunity to bring walls down.
“I will not be sharing this podium with you anymore .” Lauren MacDonald
In her denouncing, before leaving the stage, it was clear that Lauren had the charisma, the support of the audience and arguments to prove the world that activists are no joke, no tree huggers, they are prepared people advocating for voiceless victims. Yet she chose to leave.
Something kept bothering me about the whole episode and I guess is something that I am learning as well.
The opportunity cost of losing the higher goal.
You could see the irony about bringing a multinational oil and gas conglomerate CEO to a climate conference specially when he argues by shifting the blame for climate change to consumers with one hand and with the other he is appealing the ruling of a Dutch court mandating, in a landmark case, that Shell must reduce its emission by 2030. Or…
…You could capitalize that opportunity of sharing the stage with the biggest stakeholder to your cause. , after all the goal is to fight climate change, and you were given a microphone in a televised platform where you could have pushed van Beurden arguments absurdity of their policies and void commitments right in front of everyone.
By walking away our point was mute, we lost the opportunity to argue, to shed light on the blindspots of the CEO of the one of the largest producers of CO2 emissions. By doing so, who won? not the earth, not the climate.
When we fail to persuade opposing stakeholders to question their views and the reality of the future they are bringing about we stop being part of the solution.
Climate change is here and we cannot afford the opportunity cost of not igniting a heated and constructive debate with key players. It’s not about mic drop moments, it’s about listening, understanding, and debating.
I know Lauren MacDonald had the pathos, ethos and logos to bring down the oil giant Shell and drive CEO Ben van Beurden to the burning spotlight of responsibility in one of the most capitalistic and elitist platform of today and yet we lost sight of the higher goal and settled for a you and I battle of the egos.
I know the match was unfair and tilted. Lauren MacDonald is only 21 years old confronting a 63 year old tycoon. I know as she gains experience and connects with the inner place — the source- from which we operate, think, act, perceive and communicate (our set of values and beliefs) she will be one to look and watch out for.
And you, what would you have asked Shell CEO Ben van Beurden?