Life shrinks, or expands, in proportion to one’s courage. -Anaïs Nin
WHAT IF YOU HAD TO?
Indulge me for a moment. Yes, I know you’re an accomplished and pragmatic person (perhaps an executive at a fine company), with a record of getting things done. Even breakthrough things, under difficult circumstance.
Maybe you’ve driven innovation at your company, and led your company to set unprecedented climate goals. Maybe you’re all “doing your best” to reduce emissions 5-7% year on year—no simple task—which is what’s required to deliver 50% emissions reductions by 2030, now just five and a half years away.
But as the old joke about ham and eggs goes, the chicken was involved, the pig was committed.
Are we committed? What if “doing our best” just isn’t good enough?
More countries, companies, and cities have set science-based targets and “net zero” GHG emissions goals, but, as CNN reports, “just 22% of the world’s 500 biggest public companies by market value are aligned with the Paris Agreement…a measly gain from 18% of firms in 2018.” What’s worse, fewer than five percent of companies have credible climate plans, according to CDP. Is it because there are no consequences “now” to failing—even though the consequences heading our way are huge.
So here’s my climate question for you: What if you had to?
What if the shit hit the fan? What if you, your company, your city, had to change dramatically, no matter how daunting the magnitude of change is? What if, instead of reducing emissions 50% by 2030, or 80% by 2040, or 95% by 2050, or whatever number it is? What if you had to zero them out in five years? Or by the new year? Or by tomorrow? What would you do?
Yes, of course this is completely unreasonable. But after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the entire US auto industry converted from civilian to military production in a matter of months. Not years. Months.
Because we had to.
What if you had to?
What if your kid, or spouse, or partner, or parent, or whoever is the person you care most about in the world, faced imminent death unless you did…something. Something that today seems completely unreasonable? Wouldn’t you bend heaven and earth—whatever the odds—tobring them through?
It comes down to care, imagination, commitment, and courage.
FORTUNATELY, COURAGE IS CONTAGIOUS
Daniel Ellsberg died Friday. He was 92. A Marine, and a nuclear war planner, he rose to fame in the 1960s when he released the Pentagon Papers, exposing the lies underlying US escalation in Vietnam. Neat the end of a long life as a tireless activist for peace and justice, he said his only regret was that he didn’t blow the whistle sooner. He praised the people who resisted the war and the draft, whose actions inspired him to act.
“Courage is contagious,“ he said.
It all comes back to how you can’t change THE world, but you can change YOUR world, and sometimes THEIR world. And however you’re changing it, if you do it over and over, it adds up. Everybody here gets reverse-engineering what’s adding up, where, and wants to ask why. -Tr Duncan
Look, I get it. “Change is hard.” (I still vividly remember the client who whined, “But this is sooooo haaaard!” ) And yet it happens.
Consistent, year on year improvement of one or two of three percent is “hard.” And yet it happens.
Transforming an industry is “hard.” And yet it happens.
It turns out that “hard” is an assessment—an interpretation—not a testable, provable truth. “Hard” drives some people away—and invites some people to buckle uip and head on in. (Like Peter Diamandis of the X Prize and Salim Ismail of ExO; I spent three hours last month listening to them lay out their distilled methodology for driving 10X—not 10%—improvement.)
We’ll dive into that story next time.
PS: It’s the third week of the month, so pease join us Wednesday for “Living Between Worlds—with Grace, Dignity, and Power,” as we explore the dance of our inner climate and our outer climate. You can register here, and visit our nearly four years of previous conversations here. We loo forward to seeing you