Time to rethink
It’s time to rethink and set new priorities to challenging the climate crisis. How a few dedicated people can change the world for the better.
A drop in the bucket
Our current drop-in-the-bucket approach towards climate change should not make us feel better. If you are currently buying a Tesla or eating Beyond meat, you might be falling for the trap of thinking that you are solving global warming. I applaud every individual action as it leads to further change. However, the feeling of comfort might be an illusion and give you unjustified comfort.
Our current individual actions can be compared to Mickey Mouse in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”: For every broomstick broken in half, two more occur. We are still no magicians, and our actions can lead to many more negative consequences on the environment.
Moreover, we might just follow the typical market adoption process. We are currently paying a premium for green technologies with the hope of critical adoption when the price drops further. Market adoption is still highly motivated by affordability. If consumers were driven primarily by moral or environmental issues, they already would have adopted many sustainable technologies like EVs, solar panels, and plant-based food earlier.
So what can we do?
- We will need to overcome the generational dilemma of the climate crisis, where the threat is long-term, but the action required is short-term.
- We will need to overcome the inconvenient truths of our affluent lifestyles and industries that profit from burning fossil fuels.
- And lastly, we will need to create and support the inventors and founders of our low carbon time to drive systematic change.
There is definitely no one-size-fits-all solution to a complex problem, such as global warming. However, only systemic change will help us overcome the challenges of global warming while not harming other planetary boundaries. We will need to have a compass that can guide our decision making that overcomes the generational dilemma and the inconvenient truths of our affluent lifestyles.
One concept that could act as a compass is Kate Raworth’s “Doughnut” economics. It takes essential planetary boundaries (e.g. biodiversity loss, climate change, and freshwater) and social boundaries (e.g. income, food security, and healthcare) into account to reframe economic problems and set new goals to achieve a safe and just space for humanity. Sustainable prosperity can only be reached when social foundations are met without overshooting any of the planetary ceilings.
The Edisons of our low carbon time
Entrepreneurs can drive the necessary change to overcome many obstacles. They dream about currently unreasonable possibilities, aren’t afraid of the high probability of failure, and thus take the risk anyway.
People will want to adopt the “rich” lifestyle of the 700 million, and entrepreneurs will need to reimagine how to do it through our only resource multiplier: technology. They ask what comes next for construction? Healthcare? Food? Transportation?
As Vinod Khosla says, we will need to support entrepreneurs and inventors:
“The future is not knowable, but it is inevitable and inventable so we need great entrepreneurs and technologists to invent the future.” — Vinod Khosla
The world’s history has shown us that a few can alter the curse of humanity: Einstein, Gandhi, and Mozart. I would argue that it took less than 100 people every century to alter humanity’s path.
Entrepreneurs armed with sufficient technology, capital, and talent can change the world’s direction towards sustainability. Elon Musk’s Tesla has commenced the inevitable shift towards electric cars and lithium-ion batteries as electrical storage systems. This concept is getting widely adopted and will accelerate positive change.
We need to change politics and capitalism. Only a few can drive the necessary societal change. The world needs hundreds of other Teslas to start a Manhattan Project for our climate now!
I embarked on a mission and hereby challenge myself to share one article a day for the next ten weeks. This is the first article of this new series focused on sustainability. Let’s compound sustainability!