Beyond the Malthusian gloom and doom that pervades most of the discussion about climate change and the current economic outlook, I am optimistic about the unique opportunity we have to change our behavior to preserve the environment and our future. Our consumer culture needs to shift towards living off of nature’s income and not nature’s capital. With the shreds of financial deregulations burning down our house of debt - we have become a nation that can no longer feed our material addiction. Maybe, just maybe, we have reached a tipping point where it is easier to change our behavior then maintain the Gordon Gecko greed and wonton consumption of the last 30 years. If we are to tackle the inconvenient truth of climate change and environmental degradation before its too late, we must act.
Thom Friedman, and others are starting to focus on making lemonade out of the bailout and recession. As citizens of the world, we all can seize this moment to shape the future. That is just one pro-active aspect of American ingenuity that does make us the best country on around. But we also need to redefine how we live as necessity forces a return to our roots of thrift and frugality.
If we can rebuild our financial institutions and economy to care about the triple bottom line and the well-being of our world - the $700b will have been well spent.
If we can rebuild our government to serve the people and not wealth - the $700b will have been well spent.
If we can spark innovation and pay for basic science research to create a new green economy - the $700b will have been well spent.
If we can replace and repair our neglected infrastructure with state-of-the-art green pipes and systems - the $700b will have been well spent.
If we can teach our children, parents, and peers that the conservation of energy and resources is the simplest step to pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps - then the $700b will have been well spent.
If we take this moment to do right, to care about those without, to share our love and happiness, to appreciate life a little more – then there is hope.
At least I know that with this economic melt down, as the average american struggles to fill the tank of their SUV, we’ve gained a little more time before the polar bears drown or that we suffocate in the sauna of CO2 and mercury released from Chinese power plants. Yes, the its going to be painful - but our grandchildren and the entire planet will be significantly better off if we take the opportunity that this crisis offers.
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Teaching sustainability and urbanism to make the world a better place.