Today’s many man-made crises can be addressed, but not if we listen to hucksters and sociopaths.
More often than not, predictions about the future get it wrong. As recently as the late 1960s, when the population was 3 billion, author Paul Ehrlich’s warnings predicted in The Population Bomb that humans would overwhelm Earth’s resources within 10 years, leading to vast famines, war and collapse. We’d be living in a “Soylent Green” world, eating each other to survive.
Fortunately, predicting the future is fraught with uncertainties. That’s not to say Ehrlich’s dire warnings won’t come true eventually, but so far, at least, other factors—advances in farming, digital communication, and so on—have (mostly) headed off the worst scenarios.
Let us hope that the same uncertainty holds true with regard to the Earth’s ecosystems. The extinctions and loss of habitat happening now are real and dire, but perhaps not unstoppable.
As I stood in a hardware store the other day, the customer in front of me launched into a sudden and unexpected tirade about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. He told the rather stunned-looking clerk that the fact that we had an “alien” as our president “ruined the country” and is the cause of all of our troubles today. He was literally sputtering with rage. The fact that we have a new president, he said, is irrelevant. The damage was done!
Sadly, there’s an undercurrent of misinformation that has seeped into American culture, and it’s doing none of us any favors. These sinister stories (and we do love our stories) are neither random nor unavoidable. Talk shows, TV networks and hackers start them, and anti-social media amplify them.
I say anti-social because too often, they fuel our worst instincts, not our best.
Deep within the human psyche is a craving for self-destruction. If the world ends during our lifetime, then we were right, and the world DID go to hell in a handbasket!
Yes, we face massive challenges. Climate change is real, and the world is overheating. But solar energy has just passed all fossil fuels in price parity. It’s now economically inevitable. Birth rates are dropping in many industrialized nations. Many nations have begun to tackle plastic pollution. We’re close to a cure for Alzheimer’s and early cancer detection, and on and on. Behind the dark clouds of misinformation, the future could still be bright.
Can corporations, like the ones highlighted in our July/August issue, be part of that brightness? Possibly. But all companies need to stay in “actual reality” and do the hard work of course correction, rather than denying and obfuscating the facts.
I have friends with political views 180 degrees from mine. Yet we’re friends. We do projects together, go fishing or just sit in silence, without butting heads about how the world will end. Listening, talking, working: That’s actual reality. Blaming, raging, denying: That’s the dead-end road to nowhere.