Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Too late to be pessimistic


A.T. gave me this incredibly simple piece of logic. Divide all the earth's resources- everything from energy, food, water, etc- and divide it by the human population. Of course, due to the enormity of the calculation, and the complexity of the parameters this is going to be conjecture. So fix your own baseline, even if it means eating 45 kilos of red meat every year and driving a hummer. Now, next year the denominator would have increased by quite a bit but the numerator wouldn't have. Stated another way, since the population has increased, your ration has reduced this year. What that means is that if you do not have a reduced footprint this year compared to the last one, you are not living it right! And yet, every definition of success in contemporary culture revolves around increasing your claims on this planet. Buy the SUV, get the dream home, fill your passport with visas, get a bigger paycheck. Once you've done all that, upgrade everything.

Pessimism is a safe place. Too often I've hid behind the excuse of the hopelessness of it all. After all, this requires not incremental changes but total upheavals of our core values. This week, I came across these two links (Paul Hawken's speech and Yann Arthus-Bertrand's TED talk), both from vastly different sources but both with the message "It's too late to be pessimistic". Let me start by acknowledging the people around me that have made the plunge into figuring out what else can replace the traditional success metrics. Pat on the back to the few others who are on the threshold. May your tribe increase. May your fire never die out.
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