David Suzuki, Wade Davis and Ronald Wright
By James Hoggan
In my last blog I reported some dire warnings from several of the world’s top scientists, experts who are able to present facts about species extinction and climate change in ways we can all absorb. I have never been a pessimist, but we cannot ignore these alarm bells or allow ourselves to get bogged down in denial and acrid debate. These problems are serious and they won’t go away on their own.
As I explain in my new book, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot, the driving mechanism behind significant social change is an urgent sense of the moral challenge combined with a credible path forward. Social justice advocate Marshall Ganz stresses that both dissonance and hope must be present if we are to spark change. MIT Sloan School of Management’s Otto Scharmer adds the success of any intervention depends less upon the specific actions taken, and more upon the inner condition of the intervener.
So clearly, if we want to solve these global environmental problems we need to change the way we see the world and the way we interact with nature. And we also need to shift not only our attention but also our intention.
In this blog I highlight the insights of three experts who urge us to do this by tapping into mankind’s extraordinary gift of foresight, the lessons of history and the wisdom of indigenous cultures.
Ronald Wright, Canadian author of the bestseller, A Short History of Progress, who studied archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge, sees a pattern in our refusal to take our collective foot off the accelerator and slow the greedy advance of civilization. He said we North Americans are heavily invested in selling hydrocarbons but are in denial about it because of, “controversies stirred up by massive funding from big oil companies that create bogus scientific institutes.”
Civilizations rise and fall, prosper then collapse when the very technologies that created prosperity and success in the first place become liabilities, said the scholar who described this in his Massey Lectures. He calls this downfall of societies the progress trap and refers to examples in Easter Island, ancient Rome, Sumer and more, where innovations created new problems of their own, conditions that were worse than those that existed before the innovation.