After reading “Seven Years to Save the Planet!” I was interested to read the latest offerings from our friends in Copenhagen working in the Green Growth Leaders team. These people are very interested in ‘selling’ sustainability because many of their businesses are based on products or services that will lead us to a more sustainable future, and because they are genuinely interested in a more sustainable future for us all. I have no problem with companies marketing sustainability to me, provided that their claims of greeness are accurate.
I was fascinated by their recent publication called ‘Sustainia‘, a guide to achieveing a more sustainable future. Instead of Bill McGuires doom-mongering, this much shorter offering aims to paint such a beautiful picture of a sustainable future that we are all going to want it immediately. Of the two strategies this seems to hold more promise for the majority of the population who will only believe doom-mongering when the flood/avalanche/lavaflow/duststorm/apocalypse actually hits them and not one minute before.
I liked the effort that has gone into Sustainia even though some of it is too much like marketing speak rather than real fiction. If they could only persuade Haruki Murakami to write it, it would be much better.
They sum up their ambition by quoting Antoine de Saint Exupery:
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
I take their point, but at some stage you DO have to collect wood, and assign tasks, or else nothing would ever happen! I also liked their point that if Martin Luther King had said ‘I have a nightmare!’ the likelihood is that his speech wouldn’t have had quite the same impact. This sounds trite but I think that it contains a very important core of wisdom. The environmental movement has been crying Wolf! unsuccessfully now for about forty years. It is time to try a different form of warning and persuasion. We can’t wait for the wolf to turn up to be proven right.