Today is a happy day for many people, and marks, hopefully the beginning of a fundamental shift in environmental awareness.
Today, a climate and inflation bill passed in Congress allowing for something like $430 billion to be invested in cutting the United States carbon footprint in half by 2030.
Hazah. It only took us 60 years.... I wonder if it'll actually only take 7 years for us to make the changes.
The bill marks a huge "win" for democrats, but it's actually more of the same in terms of policy.
But deep down, I feel some intense anguish about the way our world has developed.
If I were a part of a grief share circle, about climate anxiety, this is what I would say because this is truly how I actually feel much of the time:
"My degree feels so worthless. My skills, and often much of my career experience feels worthless too. All of my 'experience' just underscores and illuminates my reliance on systems that are built on injustices or are otherwise completely out of my control... Even when I feel like I have control, I make poor choices because of misinformation, self-doubt, and a lack of true understanding; and those bad decisions just make things worse and worse, as shown by my cholesterol levels over time."
After thinking and writing that down, I felt the need to share it because this is actually a pretty accurate reflection of Earth today. The earth has some seriously bad cholesterol levels, and we need to get it cleaned up if it's to survive. Our planet is alive, and I believe it has a heart subject to attack too.
Here in the United States, we've had around 200 years of continuous, stressful, and even explosive conflicts as it relates to "growth". That conflict has absolutely been "passed off" to other countries too. Growth at the expense of others.
It used to be called "Manifest Destiny" in the history books I read growing up. But that was just the devastation of the natives that lived here peacefully "rebranded".
or perhaps, "The American Dream"... Also a rebranded version of consumer capitalism at the expense of -you name the issue- other atrocities committed, both domestically and abroad. There are so many to choose from.
or some other catchy phrase like that.
From what I can see, the "modern" world is built on the blood, sweat, and tears of people who never even get to see it. People who struggle often times just to survive.
It used to be that people could simply see a problem facing the marketplace, develop a physical, real solution with a few phone calls and some meetings, and then sell it to the masses through marketing, using the ONE newspaper that existed...
The policy was an afterthought. Taxes and paperwork and hiring and firing and ALLLLLLLLL of that "real" work is hidden. It's all behind the scenes, both because it's boring, but also because half of it didn't exist yet. I think starting a business now is WAY different now.
It isn't about the product anymore. It's about the competition.
Who cares about how awesome the lure is when this is all that's left to catch.
See, unfortunately, when you're like me. Everything is a problem and a possible business opportunity now. I mean, like, literally almost everything...
But there are some problems that are more important than others.
I feel like most of the behavior in the culture I live in is built on old, bad policy, bad communication, bad attitudes, mistakes, cover-ups, pride, jealousy, and money following rooted ideas.
This "productivity" attitude is so hard wired, that the fabric of our society would tear apart if some key things changed (like access to water for a recent example).
You know why?
Because, in both my direct and indirect experience, for the last 30 years or more, entire industries and many billion-dollar companies have been built on the idea that governments made sustainable policies to start with. That there is a single "definition" of sustainability, and that it can be proprietary, sold, monetized, capitalized on, etc.
I contest and disagree with that strategy because it creates too much strife. It installs leverage for some and removes leverage for everyone else.
Sustainability HAS TO BE about loving your neighbor and providing essential and basic resources to those that need them before trying to strategically extract every drop of energy from each employee and machine on staff.
I believe that the focus of sustainability policy needs to be providing ALL people around the world with the access to the ESSENTIAL resources they need to survive.
Sustainability will require a different level of change for everyone, but that change in lifestyle and awareness that is going to be important.
In my opinion, sustainability as a change in lifestyle will need to be implemented in a way that allows people to have a somewhat automatic adjustment.
It will need to be interwoven into the fabric of our cultures and societies and cities and homes in order to be successful. We can't cherry pick it, but sustainability can't require more effort than is already spent. Most people already have nothing left in the tank.
If it's not easy,
They'll say "Since it's not convenient, it's not the right time."
and honestly, I think I kinda agree. Or at least, I think I understand.
Until "sustainability" can be packaged and sold, it won't be mainstream...
But that's why it needs to be rebranded.
So, here we are. This is why it's about convenience.
Even though "Environmental Sustainability" and Environmental Justice" and "Earth Day" has been around since 1970, there still needs to be a rebranding of these things in light of advances in sustainable technology. We can provide for everyone! We have the technology! We just need the action plan.
A business, or a government agency, or even a non-profit might ask:
"Where's the proof of concept that it's even possible though? or the cost benefit
"How will "sustainable changes" help the company's Key Performance Indicators?"
"What's the triple bottom line for Social, Financial, and Environmental Profitability?"
This is sort of what I mean. It's like it's not actually about sustainability at this point. It became about politics and management as soon as the authority to change things is considered.
As soon as REAL sustainability is suggested (the lifestyle change that would allow citizens to have more freedom and access closer to home), the idea of constantly increasing and growing in profit and control goes out the window.
In other words, sustainability just doesn't work for most businesses or governments that's ever done any business. Sustainability is framed as a limitation in the minds of most politicians and businesses. This is where the change is actually needed.
I also contest and counter with the idea that no one is actually an expert anymore, and so anytime that one specific person is blamed for any major problem, they're likely being used as a scapegoat or red herring.
Hear me out.
Everything is interconnected, and an expert needs to be aware of all of those interconnected pieces. But there's way too much to know now. The only way to facilitate real sustainability in the future is by promoting, allowing, and in fact, opening up to interconnection between businesses, land uses, people, places, and things.
Let me explain further.
For many years, social ideologies, groups, businesses, and regulations have incubated in the minds of the people, and result in the unique cultures we live in. This breeds a standard of operation that becomes relied upon and "normal", sometimes even multiple generations after the initial concept, even if those actions don't always make sense.
For example, take wine making; it's the same now as it pretty much always was.
Except now we do it a lot faster, better, more consistently, professionally, with scientific disciplines, understandings, and hard-fought victories that lead to a perfect product every time that can be sold for (usually) a small profit per bottle.
Although the process is the same: from sowing the seeds, harvesting the grapes, crushing them, processing them, fermenting, etc. etc.
The result can be wildly different when built on knowledge and an understanding of dynamics that only an expert would know.
But even an expert can't convince an idiot who paid too much for a glass that it was or wasn't worth it. It's a subjective product.
A lifetime working with produce and livestock on a farm doesn't make a farmer a Michelin star cook. Nor the other way around.
A lifetime as a religious person doesn't make one an expert at philosophy. Sometimes the same experiences for one person can result in expertise and insight, other times, bigotry.
At this point, there are too many things to be an expert in, and often we make terrible decisions based on assumptions. Like the dumping of thousands of barrels of DDT off the coast of Los Angeles for 30 years. We assumed the ocean would take care of it, or that it wouldn't cause us problems.
Alas, assumptions lead to derailment.
How does one choose what to specialize in, when one missing piece of information from a different specialist in a different line of work might change your entire modus operandi?
See, in my humble opinion, we have to focus on the fundamental foundations and essential activities that humans need to do every day in order to find sustainability in the future.
The book smart definition of Sustainability is "ensuring the same process can be completed over and over again forever more without negatively impacting the environment"
I believe this is short sighted because it doesn't allow for our mistakes or our creativity as a species on Earth.
Humans make mistakes. We're inherently seekers of comfort and convenience. We want what is easy and fast and effortless. We'll often pay any price for even just a little more.
Sustainability as a corporate, national, or even global policy won't work if it's based on the idea that we have to work for it, and that we can have "more" forever.
I mean, obviously there is up-front work. But I'm more referring to the lifestyle.
Living sustainably is hard because the world hasn't accepted it to be possible yet.
If you ask me, sustainability is about finding the ideal way to live in peace and relative comfort forever; so that we don't need to seek out more, and don't really want to...
Once we understand that sustainability can be easy, I believe we'll find the way to make it that way. Even if it takes some hard work.
Thanks for reading,