A profound challenge for humanity is rooted in a single letter, I. The singularity of I does not really exist. Our egos have an unrealistic expectation of individuation. Really it will always be about Us, all of Us! The birds and the bees and future generations who are counting on our wisdom and our precautionary behavior. Our value propositions are waiting for the WE to dawn on us.
The I has created a cultural focus on personal profit rather than perpetuity. Every day we are bombarded with the crisis of a culture that has been constructed without the simple prerequisite of coexistence to sustain life over time.
Human ingenuity is at the same time both genius and incomplete. As a species, we were given ego’s that often interfere with the basic principles of coexistence. Someone once said to me, God gave us the earth and we figured out how to charge rent for it. Our egos tend to believe that we can "lord over a dominion" yet not the wisdom to see shared value is life itself. We forget that our self-guided actions can pollute the very air we need to live, as it is not included in the cost of doing business. We have created industries full of fundamental oversights that are void of mechanisms to value natural capital. The effects of not measuring the cost of companies and individuals putting too much Co2 in the atmosphere is just one of these inefficiencies in our system. It’s not only fossil fuel that is the culprit, it is also our fossilized thinking.
The solutions seem infinitely complex as we are being asked not only to shift our economy, we are being asked to shift our culture so to include the atmosphere and other species in our value propositions. Quite frankly we are being asked to evolve. We have to move away from the fundamental design flaw of cultural and business practices which currently sees the intrinsic values of nature as separate or inconsequential.
The revolution we need is a revolution of coexistence, collaborative behavior that includes natural capital as a founding principle. All designs, agencies, and organizations should include sustainability as a foundational directive, not an add-on office. From my perspective most profit today is simply an accounting error. If corporations accounted for the health of the atmosphere, water, land and species diversity we would see very different numbers. We would see more value overall and less depletion, not propped up debt structures called corporations. How can we a establish biodiverse accounting systems with more than currency on the bottom line as intrinsic value? How can we include shared values as an asset? That is what we are being asked to do by nature herself. We need to be truly inclusive in our values.
Can our culture internalize the value of the environment and bank on that to make this shift? We are so focused on an abstract currency model that is infinitely flawed that we have lost our way. For most, profit is not a spiritual guide it is financial imperative. We are at the forefront of an evolutionary revolution that will have to partner with each other and with nature. Fortunately, nature has had millions of years to evolve and seems to hold answers that will help us with the many solutions that will be necessary to protect the future of life on this planet. Can we co-evolve with her? Can we shift the rewards toward preservation? That is a tall order but one I hope industry and innovation and the atmospheric imperative will inspire.
I started this article this morning as a guide to stewardship in my county, Marin California. I often feel like we are squirrels running around hiding nuts in a fire. Although it is true we may not be able to volunteer our way out of this cultural calamity, I ask you to volunteer.
I ask you to go out into nature and stop talking and start listening. I ask you to dig into the dirt as a way to break ground and shovel into your own soul. I ask you to wonder.... what if my value was based on natures values. Get out and volunteer and try not to think too much, just exist with nature and let her teach you the many ways that we can co-evolve and support each other. At the very least you will be better for having done it and that can inspire a world of change.
I understand that it is hard to focus on so many issues, stresses, and family concerns. It is also hard to navigate what to do especially when it seems so overwhelming. It is for that very reason that you need to step out onto the land and ask for guidance. See what nature thought of to create balance, think about how an owl might vote or a butterfly might color. Think about how a tree uses water, and how communities coexist on wildland without individual ownership.