1. It is being caused by a single species – us.
2. It is happening in slow motion (relatively speaking)
3. The cause – us – is not a blind force. We have the power to change its trajectory.
In my other job, I’m a communications advisor for international development and environmental organizations. In this capacity, I am constantly studying the drivers of human change – how to create it and how to direct it. What we’ve learned is that awareness of a problem alone is seldom enough to get people to work together to solve it.
You need three ingredients:
First, the problem has to create dissatisfaction with the way things are. Sometimes this can be through a vision of a better future or a greater opportunity that can be realized through making a change. More often, though, dissatisfaction comes when we realize our current path is going to lead us to more suffering than we can tolerate. A toothache is a great example. I often put off going to the dentist, even though I know it’s important. But when I feel a stab of pain in a tooth, I make an appointment, because I know more suffering is coming if I don’t deal with it. That’s human nature.
Second, you need realistic hope that if you do act, things can be different. If the problem is overwhelming, it’s easy to fall into despair and apathy. I go to the dentist because I know he can deal with my tooth and make the pain go away. If I knew I had terminal cancer, well, what would be the point of going to the doctor for check ups? Hope is what moves us towards the future we want and makes us ready to work for it.
Third, you need a sense of urgency. Without urgency, we keep putting things off, even important things, figuring we will eventually get around to them, but we never do. I have a basement closet in need of emptying out that can testify to this fact in my own life.
When it comes to the planet’s impending, human-caused catastrophes, we actually have a perfect mix of these three ingredients: dissatisfaction, hope and urgency. For example, with climate change, we are already seeing the effects of increased hurricanes, droughts, floods and sea level rise. We know the pain is going to get worse. We have the hope of solar, wind and other clean energy technologies. My environmental clients stress that just by switching to today’s current green technologies (never mind future breakthroughs) we could reverse the trends of Climate Change. Finally, climate scientists believe we have a window of about twenty years to make it happen. After that, melting icecaps and permafrost, dying rainforest and a host of other drivers will take Climate Change out of our control, spewing massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and putting us on a path of no return.
This is one of perhaps a dozen or more areas where we as a species are facing global disaster, but we have the choice, the power, and the motivation to make the change.
Now is the moment for change makers, agents of transformation, catalysts, and visionaries to raise their voices and inspire humanity to choose the future we want – not the one we are headed for.
And this is the purpose of Changemakers Books, to provide a platform for Changemakers to share their practical wisdom, to show us a better path, and to motivate us to act.
I believe change happens from the inside out and the outside in, and so some of our authors focus on the spiritual and psychological dimensions of transformation for the individual, while others focus on moral and social transformation for all humanity. These must go hand in hand.
In fact, it is my belief that no one approach has the sole right answer. So I encourage my authors to connect and interact with their readers, and to help each other by promoting other authors’ works through their own social networks. It’s my intention that as Changemakers Books expands, it will draw to it Connectors – bloggers, journalists, radio hosts, TV producers, academic institutions, and other publishers so that we can create an ethos of conscious transformation large enough to move humanity into the future that could be, if we choose to make it so.