If you live in many parts of the world today, this conversation may be hard to wrap your arms around. However, allow me to make a case of why we should be optimistic about the future of the planet.
Experience over possessions. You've probably read by now that Millennials (18 - 35 year olds) have figured something out --- people with a lot of stuff and tons of debt, don't seem to be happier than people without a lot of stuff and very little debt. They have reasoned that experience is more important than paying for stuff the rest of your life. This is a stunning development considering that Western societies, and those who copy Western style models, constantly pound the message of " ownership" through debt. The iron-clad grip of materialism is giving way to relationships, experiences, the health of the children and other quality of life measurements. "uncivilized" cultures have valued for eons. https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2015/06/01/nownershipnoproblem-nowners-millennials-value-ex...
The opportunities in climate change adaptation. Yes, climate change will challenge the very survival of humanity. At the same time, some of our greatest moments are ahead of us. All around the world, communities are moving ahead with adapting to extreme weather by bonding together, creating jobs and a new sense of cooperation. It seems that climate change may create opportunities of cooperation and collaboration we've only dreamed about. One of the best known examples is the powerful project by several West and Northern African countries to create The Great Green Wall. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/farmers-in-sahel-beat-back-drought-and-climate-change-wit...
Renewable energies can change the power structure in the world. If you control the energy in the world, you control the world. The current world power structure that has led us to the near extinction level event we face through climate change has been fueled through the petroleum industry. Renewable energy structures, especially zero cost energy households through solar power will mean a permanent decentralization of power so that it's not concentrated in the hands of a few. This is in keeping with the human-centric direction the world is leaning toward. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2016/08/decentralized-renewables-the-rise-of-the-micro-...
We're not having a breakdown. We're having a breakthrough. It can be argued that humanity experimented with a bunch of ideas over the past few centuries that simply didn't work very well. The moment that we are in now is asking us to take the next step in correcting a bad call....create a new way forward. Break through. We've lived long enough to know what ideas are terrible. We have a chance to learn and become greater from our experience. But as any psychologist will tell you, the first step to healing is admitting that you have a problem.
Optimism is an intention, not just a feeling. In order to create an abundant, empowered and sharing future going forward, we must choose optimism. That means, optimism is a choice and an intention. In other words, there is a decision that has to be made about the future that benefits more people and heals the planet. In a very real way, it is a belief....a faith that in every human rests the seeds of a flower. As we water and nurture it, we see it's beauty and power. Waiting to feel good is not a strategy. Deciding to water our flower, pull resources together to design a future is. It's called optimism.
Many of us live on automatic pilot, that is, we take our social, religious and political cues from widely held beliefs. This normal part of human behavior allows us to make decisions based on the data we believe to be true. But there is another part of that structure a lot of people ignore. It is our ability to take in new data so that we can update our information base and, perhaps, make better decisions. Here are some updates, based on some recent trends that are re-writing our perceptions.
MYTH: If we just keep doing incremental changes through charity programs, legislation, grant initiatives from Foundations, etc, we will empower more people and build a better society. FACT: That's not how we're trending. There are a few exceptions in South East Asia, but overall in the world, the trend over the past 40 years is the rapid growth of income inequality. In fact, in the US, the latest numbers in a Fortune Magazine report say that Black and Brown communities will be, on the whole, penniless in the next 10 to 20 years. http://fortune.com/2017/09/19/racial-inequality-wealth-gap-america/?utm_campaign=fortunemagazine&utm... But it doesn't stop in those communities https://www.newstarget.com/2017-08-24-most-americans-are-one-paycheck-away-from-poverty-you-cant-pre...
Think about this the next time you're at a charity ball or event that's raising money for the less fortunate.
WHAT CAN WE DO: Let's put more money, resources, thought and leadership into economic alternatives. This movement is trending. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/sep/15/rethinking-prosperity-credible-alternat...
MYTH: Overpopulation is destroying the planet. FACT: The top industrialized nations are destroying the planet. Oxfam came out with a study that says the top 10% of industrialized countries account for half of all CO2 emissions, thus leading to climate change, while the bottom 50% of the world's population only account for a 10% contribution to climate change. We've been trending that way for the past century. https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/mb-extreme-carbon-inequality-021215... Even more, it's not about the numbers of people as much as it is about the efficiency of systems in top industrialized nations http://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/22/07/2013/food-crisis-real-problem-poverty. WHAT CAN WE DO: It will be hard, but there has to be a global campaign on sharing for the good of everybody.
MYTH: People are naturally selfish and self-serving. FACT: The trending body of science says we're hardwired to be generous and altruistic. Tons of emerging data keeps saying the same thing --- we actually want to give and get great pleasure out of the process. http://www.medicaldaily.com/human-brain-hardwired-altruistic-behavior-kind-and-generous-378606. One can only imagine what could happen in a socioeconomic system that leans toward that strength instead of one that emphasizes a belief that acquisition is the road to happiness. WHAT CAN WE DO: The rise of the philosophical construct called Ubuntu seeks to tap into that sharing, giving aspect of humanity so we can leverage that strength.
MYTH: We can stop climate change/global warming by lowering the world's CO2 emissions. FACT: That ship has sailed some time ago. We are now in the transition phase where we have to start thinking climate change adaptation. You'll be hearing that phrase more and more often over the next 3-5 years. https://kottke.org/15/08/climate-change-were-past-the-point-of-no-return WHAT CAN WE DO: There are Climate Change Adaptation groups springing up all around the world. Join one.
MYTH: Autonomous Robots won't take as many jobs as what's being predicted.. FACT: Autonomous Robots have already been taking jobs and have been doing so for the past 30 years. People are working harder but not earning more. They are working two or three jobs to take the place of one. They are discovering the one income household is almost a thing of the past. Why? Autonomous robots or automation. It's been going on since the 1990s. Most people just didn't connect the dots. http://fortune.com/2016/11/08/china-automation-jobs/ WHAT CAN BE DONE: All jobs won't go away, but large swaths of people will be underemployed or unemployed. It's time to rethink what can we do to leverage the collective strength of our populations to solve some of our most basic challenges.
How do we get out of this mess? Five ways to change the world's current trajectory. A briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
At many of my workshops and presentations on the immediate future of the planet, I always tell my audience that we, as a civilization, are not trending very well. In other words, if we allow things to continue unabated, the world will become a mean, poor, desperate and inhospitable place for most everyone and everything in a relatively few short years. Besides dramatic climate change, there are several crises that are contributing to this trajectory toward our future dystopia.....
I did not compile this list to depress you. On the contrary. Crises, like the flu in the body, is trying to tell the host it's time to do some healing and perhaps, change the lifestyle that created the opportunity for the flu in the first place. Whatever we've been doing to date, through the leadership of the past few centuries, is not only unsustainable, but irresponsible and toxic. It's time to talk about cures. And yes, they are available, but it will take another level of us to do this work. Here are five ideas to remember in this time of great change....
The only way out is to go through. Traditional approaches to world challenges borrow from the 20th century playbook --- kick the can down the road and let future generations deal with it. Continuing this form or irresponsibility is the very foundation to the many dystopian futures offered in pop culture. It's time to be honest and tell people things are going to get more difficult before they get better. Now is the time to put together your core group --- this is a private gathering of activists, tech leaders, civic-minded people, philosophers, spiritual heads and community representatives to develop a consensus plan. Then share that plan with other core groups around the country and world. I can help you connect with those other core groups. firstname.lastname@example.org
A new kind of decentralized leadership model must be championed. The highly centralized hierarchy model of leadership, which is a mainstay of the past few centuries, has proven that it is way too vulnerable to manipulation by a small group of characters. We now have the technology to move the concept of shared leadership and responsibility forward. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/402213/the-decentralization-imperative/
Where are the visionaries? If there was ever a time for brave, insightful, intuitive and visionary people to step forward and be counted, this is that day. May I suggest that each visionary have a quality control team to run their ideas and visions through. This could also be your core group.
Sharing is caring. There are ideologues who say terrible things about the rising Peer to Peer or Sharing Economy models, primarily because they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and...quite frankly....we haven't seen the full implementation of a sharing economy utilizing the miraculous efficiencies of today's technology. This new model of sharing burden, responsibility, abundance and possibilities may be the greatest things that could ever happen to humanity. But we'll never know until we implement it.
A personal commitment to a higher purpose. Some people call this spirituality. I call it human essence. If you read some of the work of indigenous people around the world, you realized that there were, on the whole, a different set of priorities about the human experience that centered around spirit, belief and connectedness. These were later dismissed as superstitions by modern society. My suspicion is that reconnecting with a higher level of belief changes our priorities about life on earth. As we face an extinction level event through climate change, our ability to tap into a higher, more profound belief system is critical. Belief sets up philosophical ideas. Philosophical ideas set up laws. Laws guide societies.
There are ways out of this mess, but it will take next level belief and a plan of action in order for this to move from a nice discussion into plans of action.
Chet W. Sisk is an author and one of the world's leading Social Futurists. He is also expert on the current world paradigm shift. Find out more about him and the LEAD Global Team at www.leadtheshift.com or you can write him directly at email@example.com