As humans, we have a poor track record of listening to warnings of potential disasters. This cognitive dissonance exacerbates global suffering and forces us scrambling to act, creating short term band-aids that are not sustainable and eventually lead to more harm than good.
Jack Phillips on the Titanic ignored warnings of ice in the Atlantic from other ships and only realized the severity when it was too late to correct course. Brooksley Born, the chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, lobbied Congress and the President to give the CFTC oversight of off-exchange markets for derivatives. She was pushed out by big banks and politicians. Ten years later, the great recession was caused by unregulated derivative trading hurting millions of Americans.
COVID-19 is yet another example. Bill Gates gave a TEDtalk, The Next Outbreak? We’re Not Ready in March 2015. He highlighted that we are not equipped socially or economically for a pandemic. Over the past several years the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been lobbying Washington and funding private labs to develop tools we need to respond to a global spread of viral contagion.
Unfortunately, his sentiment wasn’t taken seriously.
This pandemic has already changed us. It has alerted the world of the unintended consequences of how we are treating the natural world. We are now more united and equally affected by the degrading health of our planet’s natural symbiosis. Our economy and social structures have proved unsustainable and are struggling to support our communities.
Just like pandemic risk, we know the loss of biodiversity and ecological destruction is not sustainable. We see that now, in a much more abrupt way than the gradual process of climate change. But it has been more than 150 years since Eunice Newton Foote first discovered the Greenhouse Effect, and yet we are still burning fossil fuels.
So instead of waiting until ecology has collapsed globally, we must do what we can to build systems and communities that are leveraging the intelligence of nature around mutually beneficial objectives. This disruption is compelling the curious hearts in our world to mobilize (digitally) and make sure we heed the accelerating changes of our environment.
The solution is to listen. If we want to protect our future and live in harmony with nature we must open our ears, our minds, and our hearts and change the way we live, work, and contribute to the world.
We must listen and observe without bias. We must seek to understand the diversity of nature and align our actions towards building circular economies by designing out waste and regenerating natural systems, creating a long-lasting and holistically beneficial system. Rebuilding economic and social systems based on regeneration rather than the extraction will make us more resilient, more connected to ourselves, and in turn one another. Ultimately restoring the integrity of our communities.
We can save our home but it will take individuals united in a global response. Just as we did with COVID-19, we can come together as global citizens and steward this world into a new era of prosperity and meaning for us and for our children.