22 April 2006

My 10 Thoughts for Earth Day

When you work for a global conservation organization, every day is Earth Day. So this Earth Day, I decided to give myself a day off to reflect upon what I think needs to happen in the future. Here is what I'm thinking, my 10 thoughts for Earth Day 2006:

1. The Climate Crisis is looming. We have enough science to know that there will be changes, whether dramatic or modest, and we must take action now to abate this threat, mitigate its impacts, and invest in alternatives to improve our chances for success.

2. The poor need a hand up not a hand out. Global poverty alleviation is a necessary conservation strategy and the moral imperative of our generation. The poorest of the poor need our help through a social finance system that provides access to global markets, credit and investments to get them on the ladder of economic development, and improved access to education, health care, and clean water, especially for women and children.

3. Biodiversity health is inextricably linked to human health and well-being. Those affected adversely by points 1. and 2. above are also most dependent upon ecosystems and biodiversity. We need to find ways to make those links explicit, create mechanisms for valuing those ecosystems, and ensure the long-term viability of the habitats upon which people depend.

4. Treaties, compacts, and agreements are failing because governments are neglecting to understand the nature of their commitments and the impacts of implementation. (See, for example, the potential failure of most countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals.) We need financial, market, and development incentives to ensure fulfillment of commitments made. We also need to be more realistic about objectives and outcomes, as well as accountability through a global environmental organization (GEO).

5. Globalization is happening, is inevitable, and will make us more interdependent. We should embrace globalization and ensure it is "enlightened" by the environmental, social, and economic triple bottom line. We need to enhance globalization in this regard to realize its potential positive benefits for all people.

6. We need a “Manhattan Project” for alternative energy sources and technologies. We need rapid and large-scale investments to ramp up our ability to bring new or improved alternative energy technologies to market. With oil at $75 a barrel, gas stations running dry across the US, and other countries seizing the day of opportunity, time is of the essence.

7. If you are on our side, we stand together. The conservation and environmental movement is arrogant in its assumption that it can "do it alone" -- every convert, from evangelicals to Lee Scott of Wal-Mart, comes under immediate suspicion and scrutiny. We do not have time and we cannot afford to alienate those whose motives, backgrounds, or livelihoods we neither espouse nor appreciate. We need to be more inclusive if we are to capture the imaginations of people around the world.

8. The economy and ecology are part of the same household. We must get our whole house in order, not just a few rooms. We don't let our houses go to rot; we make repairs and investments to improve them. We don't spend our capital without ensuring new investments, income streams, and better returns. (Or do we?)

9. The environment is losing ground to other, seemingly disconnected issues of the day: poverty, human health, terrorism, etc. These are not separate issues and we cannot view them as such. When the ecological house begins to collapse and more and more people fall prey to poverty and disease, and many more turn to terrorism as a means of accessing what few resources remain, it will be too late to do anything about it. The time to act is now.

10. We need to foster an enduring conservation ethic by telling our stories in as clear and compelling a way as possible. Stories are how we learn culture as humans and, as someone once said, stories can set us free. And maybe, just maybe we can come together to save our world and improve our well-being.

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1 comment:

Simmons B. Buntin said...

And No. 10 is, I think, No. 1.