Frankly, I don’t see many signs of hope for us to handle the environment. Walking around my neighborhood, I’d say maybe 20 percent of people are wearing masks. Bars and restaurants are packing people within six feet of each other. Headlines about Texas, Florida, and Arizona show people’s cavalier attitudes leading to opinion over nature.
Still, here are a few signs of hope.
Ozone: humanity banded together to ban CFCs. We took decades to do it, but who were the doomsayers who got it all wrong? Those who said we couldn’t do it.
CVS cigarettes: the chain chose to stop selling its most profitable product based on principle. Most criticized them, but they ended up succeeding. Again, the doomsayers who got it wrong were the doubters. Here’s the CEO talking about it.
Cigarettes: When I was a kid, cigarettes recalled Humphrey Bogart. Today they recall lung cancer, at least in many parts of the US. Elsewhere tobacco companies dominate, leading cigarettes to recall cowboys and other things that increase sales.
Drunk driving: When I was a kid, adults could say, “Give me one for the road,” implying before driving they wanted one drink, and people would give them that drink. People still drive drunk, but everyone I know thinks of it as tantamount to murder.
Thailand and Iran birthrates: Read Countdown, a book I recommend by Alan Weisman or watch Mechai Viravaidya‘s TEDx talk on nations lowering their birthrates voluntarily, non-coercively, creating abundance, peace, and prosperity from around 7 children per woman to below 2.
13th Amendment: We took over a century and a war, but the US made slavery illegal.
Pandemic not flying: It looks temporary and mostly to save themselves, but the pandemic led to people polluting less. If they can do it for some reason, they can do it.
Apartheid: South Africa has made major advances in making its barbarism illegal.
Going to moon: The US landed people on the moon. As tremendous the engineering feat, it was as much a leadership feat.
Fighting Hitler: The US changed its economy to fight in World War 2 fast. If we did it once, we can do it.
Japan following W. Edwards Deming: Look him up. A man with a physics degree led a nation—Japan—to transform its industries from the rest of the world expecting cheap junk to expecting quality from them. Toyota become the largest car company. US car companies declared bankruptcy.
My personal change: If you read this blog or watch my TEDx talks, you know I grew up thinking I couldn’t change or make a meaningful difference, but a few experiences changed everything. I used to expect stewardship would be a burden, chore, or sacrifice. Instead it brought freedom, lower costs, meaning, purpose, value, community, connection, and so on.
Most of these changes required immense risk, sacrifice, or people dying, often children.
Government and corporations acted last. I think we should expect them to act only after we all to, so I recommend we do.