The Hidden Challenge

August 27, 2007 at 9:34 pm 1 comment

Today humanity faces its greatest challenge. It’s a challenge that has been theorized in the Drake equation and argued by environmentalists. While the arguments for sustainability are not sexy, we have grown too fat for our only pair of pants. Both our size and our demands on our planet are unsustainable and without action our day of reckoning is already on its way. The challenge is not a technical one because we do possess the technology and knowhow to solve it. But, rather the challenge is a social one to first recognize that we are at a crossroads and then to take action.

Technological innovation and communication have been the fertilizer of our population growth. It has brought us to where we are — being both the foundations of the problem and the source of our solution. Although we are already accustomed to a global marketplace, we have yet to take the next step in our social evolution and continue to resist the formation of global thinking. We continue to relate to our minority group and seek minority betterment rather than entire group interests. While greed may be an effective tool for the marketplace, it has its limitations and I believe competitive behavior among minorities will obfuscate the issues and prevent us from solving the “big problems”.

The fact that the challenge is invisible offers us at least two realities that, if we acknowledge them, will help us tackle it more effectively. First, the threat is such that if we wait until Joe Public can see it, it will already be too late. Second, if we want Joe to become part of the solution, he must understand both the issues and the stakes. This implies a process of public education and communication.

The difference between being an adult and a child is responsibility: adults acknowledge and accept their responsibilities whether they like them or not. However, our current modus operendi is out of sight, out of mind. Why do we continue to dump contaminants into our lakes and atmosphere? Because our simple, visually driven thought process rationalizes that if it looks the same after as before then it’s not going to do anything. We know better and now we need to act better. As a civilization, we too need to accept our responsibilities.

This is our greatest challenge and while I’d like to be positive, I honestly doubt that we will rise to the occasion. The history of human social evolution has been incremental in its changes. This results from fear for self-preservation and can be problematic in that we naturally resist drastic changes. And, for such crisis we usually rely on our leaders, the big thinkers of society, to inform the public. But like Joe Public, our leadership is dazzled by the glitter of our short term accomplishments and is content to manage the status quo. So how are we going to save ourselves? Your guess is as good as mine.

On the Web

11th Hour Action by Leonardo Di Caprio

The Drake Equation


Entry filed under: Leadership, Sustainability.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Howard  |  August 28, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Hey a fellow Wolverine alum. I like the name of your blog. As for this post, you hit the nail on the head. The issue is obviously more social and psychological than technological. Have you read any Derrick Jensen?

    Coming to the point of accepting civilization’s unsustainability has been very difficult for me. I still don’t think I fully accept it. Always interested in talking more with those thinking about these issues.


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