Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Time is of the Essence

My friend, Darcy Winslow, just returned from a trip to Antarctica.  Sponsored by BP Energy, she and Peter Senge took 50 young leaders to the remote continent to inspire and educate them about saving this place.  Darcy shared her slides and talked about her experience to a small group of friends last night.  The pictures and video were amazing, the message was ominous.  We are on the brink of peril.

So far, all the worst-case scenario predictions from a decade ago have been exceeded.  There is more carbon, more warming, stronger storms, greater sea-level rise, etc. than any of our early models predicted.  If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was to break off, and there is a significant possibility of that occurring, sea-level would rise an estimated 12-21ft.  That is amazing!!! 

It is estimated that a 1 meter rise in sea-level rise would create 100 million refugees based on the fact that 20-25 percent of the global population live in coastal areas.  Can you imagine the chaos of a 12'+ rise?  The number of US residents alone living with 12’ of sea-level is staggering. 

So what do we do?

Business as usual is not acceptable.  Fundamental change is required.

The mental model most of us have is that our society is the absolute peak of human existence.  That any change means stepping off the peak and somehow represents going backwards.  This is a myth we must reject.

Rather than viewing these changes as giving something up, maybe we should view them through the lens of getting what we want.

In our current system, the primary driver seems to be making money.  We’ve developed a beautiful system for making rich people richer.  Just like in the times of the Pharaohs, those at the top of the pyramid live lavishly, those just below them live pretty well and those at the base, the largest section, suffer.

Is our purpose on this earth service to the modern day Pharaohs?

We have a human birthright to clean air, water and unpolluted bodies; To lifelong education and fulfillment, to meaningful work, to healthy food, health care, and a spiritual life.   We have EVERYTHING we need right now to do that. 

My guess is that everyone reading this right now has a higher standard of living than the wealthiest Kings and Queens from 150 years ago.  How much is enough? When do we change the goals of the system?


Jenna said...

Thanks for writing about this. The idea of "climate" refugees will be an interesting one.

thegreenestcpa said...

Great post. The biggest obstacle that I see is so many people think global warming (and science for that matter) is something that you choose to believe in, and so therefore, they just don't "believe in" it. Even worse, some people think that global warming is a hoax made up by the liberal left. Since when did the planet become a Democrat's issue? Isn't this everyone's problem? Even within my own family, people think I am a liberal nut because I have a reusable water bottle.

I love how you pointed out that it is NOT going backwards - living a more sustainable life would be a positive thing. The laziness that has infiltrated our society has definitely brought out the worst in our genetics. We were not meant to be so stationary and independent - as you said, this is why we are so sick, fat, and depressed today.

Oh well, I could go on and on, but you pretty much said exactly how I feel. If only we could get the rest of the country to want to listen.