Reflection | Between the Stimulus for Taking Climate Action and the Response is a Space to Pause

September 14, 2022

We understand and accept the science that under-pins climate change:

– Global surface temperatures were 1.09C higher in the decade between 2011-2020 than 1850-1900

– The past 5 years have been the hottest on record since 1850

– The rate of sea level rise has nearly tripled compared with 1901-1971

– Humanity is in a “code red” emergency.

The information isn’t new – it comes from yet another report based on 14,000 scientific publications setting out the facts.

We understand the cause.

The IPCC confirms that “human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and sometimes irreversible ways”.

We know the goal.

Catastrophe can be avoided if we cut global emissions in half by 2030. Putting it into context, that’s around 7% each year – the same global reduction seen as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns.

We have the solutions.

Our impressively evolved level of human intelligence, capable of space travel and exploration is also capable of manifesting and deploying the solutions needed for a decarbonised future.

We have continuing talks.

By global leaders, businesses, and individuals on what should be done, how and by when, which technology is the best option to deploy and who’s responsibility it is to act first.

We receive climate updates.

We know we are missing global targets, that more now needs to be done than ever before, that we have reached the tipping point and yet another species has been lost to extinction.

But we are slow to act.

Despite all the facts, the targets, the talks on how best to meet them and with the sufficient level of human capability to innovate all of the solutions we could need.

Nothing has really changed.

Something is missing.

This article proposes that something fundamental and common to us all is frequently missing from the climate discussion and solution.

At this point, I encourage you to take a few quiet minutes to pause and reflect on the following:

The planets climate has changed, we are losing species at an alarming rate, there are fundamental disruptions to the planets natural ecosystems and balance and there is severe risk to the future of humanity.

On first reflection you might consider that of course I understand the facts and feel that we do need to act and probably soon.

But reflect again:

Does this truly resonate to the extent that all or most of your choices are made with consideration of their environmental and ecological impact?

I know for many of us the answer to this is no – we are not making choices in this way.

So even though we understand the challenge and we have many of the solutions – without an improved level of connection with ourselves, others and nature itself to guide the choices we make, no amount of technology and innovation will create the sustainable future that the planet itself has shown us it can be.

Perhaps it will provide a band aid, a temporary fix, but it won’t target and bring the fundamental shift to the cause of climate change itself which as stated in the most recent IPCC report is a reflection of human choices.

The true answer lies within the choices we make each day. Choices that reflect our true nature and that are instinctively aligned with consideration of our impact on nature and all the ecosystems that are dependent on it for survival. It is these choices that will, in turn, move us towards a decarbonised, balanced, and prosperous future.

This provides a bright outlook and presents a potential solution to climate change that lies not outside but within each one of us and the choices that we make as individuals and as businesses.

Most of us do care about the environment and want to make a change, so why is it so challenging to make choices that have a positive impact?

Something that will resonate is that most of us are running at a million miles per hour. Swept up in the whirlwind of surviving our day-to-day lives. We’re trying to make the right choices within our homes, within our workplace, with our loved ones and of course for ourselves. While doing so we are inundated with choice from what type of deodorant to buy to what type of exercise regime we should start.

Having so much choice is overwhelming.

In fact, the average adult makes around 35,000 choices per day, that’s 2,000 per hour and 1 choice every 2 seconds! Even though it is the human condition to be on near continuous alert, it’s not possible to consciously make so many choices each day. This leads us to move in auto pilot and often unable to decipher one choice from the other let alone their potential impact.

So, as a general rule, we take the route that we are most used to, we create habits and automation that allow us to disconnect from most of the choices we make and leaving little space and time to reflect on what impact they may have outside of meeting our day-to-day needs.

With this automation also comes a disconnection from ourselves from others and from the environment and resources that sustain it all. We see this disconnection reflected in the way we consume resources, across many of our business interactions and indeed how we have measured happiness relative to status and financial wealth for so many years.

The same is true for responding to the overwhelming subject of climate change. We are inundated with choice and are being offered solutions based on financial gain for businesses rather than being listened to and supported with solutions that we really need.

We are at real risk of rushing down the same path of unconscious choice making – purchasing the most expensive technology and service to try and demonstrate to our stakeholders that we are doing something.

But between the stimulus for taking climate action and the response is a space to pause and in this space we are able to reduce the overwhelm and reflect on the choices we make each day.

A Human Centered Approach to the Climate Challenge

If the solution to climate change is about the choices we make each day, then the answer is right in front of us, it’s within our people. As people we all have the natural capability to make good choices, so we need to create a space that helps us to reconnect with that capability once again.

To navigate our way back to our capacity for good choice making it will require all of us to work closely with one another, with compassion and empathy and we must first take the time to sit down and listen, both to ourselves and to those around us.

Listening is an internal behaviour that involves both the mind and body, whereas hearing is a physical act that only involves the ears.

Listening creates a space to strip back the noise, to develop a personal awareness of the challenges we face as individuals and as businesses. It allows space to offer true clarity and support to one another.

This simple act of pausing and listening allows the most appropriate solutions to unfold naturally and although supported by the experts ultimately provides people the insight and tools to create their own solutions. In turn the subsequent choices and actions that are taken are far more enjoyable and have a higher probability of achieving sustained positive outcomes for ourselves and for the planet.

This is a shift away from bombarding people with facts and technical information and overwhelming them with more choice, all of which set out to achieve the same thing.

Instead, this approach supports the fundamental shift in behavioural and mind set change that we know is essential to rebalancing and reconnecting our interactions with the environment. It empowers the individual and can encourage them to share this awareness and knowledge with others in their community to do the same.

This is where real change can happen and is a step in the right direction of remedying the cause rather than just the effect of climate change. The result is that we become a community of change, we don’t compete, we inspire one another, we lead by example, and we light the way.

So the solution isn’t only about knowing the facts, installing the next emerging technology, it’s also about helping our people re-connect and tap into their own natural ability to make good choices. We are moving into a world where human ethics and business profit are of equal importance, where happiness lies within ourselves and where nature and humans co-exist in a balanced world.

We know that net zero is the goal, but we must remind ourselves that it is the quality of the steps that we take on that journey that will determine the outcomes we achieve.