There’s no mystery to what it will take at this point to keep our planet fit for human habitation. We already pretty much know what we have to do in order to make it more sustainable and less toxic and eliminate the problems of waste and scarcity. So why does what appears to be so simple and obvious also seem so elusive? Why do we struggle so hard to implement the solutions to our most urgent challenges that we know will be most effective?
What I find most perplexing is how my colleagues and I can all get together and map out the answers, but at the end of the day for some reason the execution just doesn’t seem to materialize. In my last blog, for instance, I talked about the benefits of a “circular economy” in which consumption and growth can actually be made compatible with sustainability simply by creating an integrated and coordinated system of re-purposing the “disposable” materials we use in everyday products. Were our major enterprises to collaborate in setting up such a network, it could actually have the effect of creating more jobs and enriching communities while saving precious resources and greatly reducing the production of toxic substances. This just seems to make so much sense, you might think everyone would embrace the idea. But why does the idea of doing something that’s both so necessary and so achievable appear to be so burdensome??
My belief is that our key environmental organizations have been running out of steam lately — and that bringing about these changes will take a new generation of enthusiastic young activists who are proficient at using the most effective tools of the new century: social media. We’ve already seen how things like Facebook and even Twitter, which may often seem frivolous, can actually be instrumental in instigating revolutions and the overthrow of governments (which is undoubtedly why they’ve now been shut down by the embattled Syrian regime). If they can be used to bring about such earth-shaking results, surely they could play a key role in getting companies and communities to collaborate in creating a circular economy that could work to everyone’s benefit and keep the human race from choking on its own refuse.
I am reminded of old friends of mine who were involved in protest movements back when getting oneself arrested for a cause was considered a badge of honor. Now you don’t need to be thrown in jail (at least, not in our society) to call attention to a cause or prove your commitment to it. All you have to do is just start the conversation going and see how many people you can get involved – whether via an Internet petition, a YouTube video that goes viral or a message heard (or seen) round the world.
What we need is a new surge of activism to spread the common-sense awareness that a little good planning can be the salvation of our planet.