Just a few of the really interesting quotes from the materials I have read over the last few weeks:
“Since 1950 alone, the world’s people have consumed more goods and services than the combined total of all humans who have ever walked the planet” (Tilford 2000)
“Sustainability isn’t hard; it’s just not simple” Jedička 2010
“Nobody wakes up in the morning calculating how to trash the planet. Instead our daily lives are a series of choices, each minuscule in its daily impact. But when multiplied billions of times, day after day, year after year, the impact is enormous” Jedička 2010
“Human wellbeing does not require high levels of consumption” Jedička 2010
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little” Edmund Burke
One of my other really favourite quotes is rather longer and comes from a paper I read by Bob Doppelt in Semester 1, but it sticks with me as I think about what comes next, and what is really important to us all…
It comes from a paper entitled From me to we: The five transformational commitments required to rescue the planet, your organisation and your life [Systems Thinker Vol 23 No 8 Oct 2012]. It goes like this:
Imagine, for a moment, that a genie suddenly whisks you away from your everyday life and makes you the world’s most powerful decision maker. At your fingertips is the most up-to-date information about the planet’s economic, social and environmental conditions. You can use that data to make any type of decision you want about how resources and wealth should be allocated and how things should function.
But there is a catch. The genie has also given you amnesia. You cannot remember your social status, nationality, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, how much money you have, or even who your parents are. Consequently, you don’t know what the effects of your decisions will be on your loved ones because you don’t know who you are or where you live.
Under these conditions, what decisions would you make? Would you use as much energy, consume as many resources, or generate as much solid waste and greenhouse gas emissions as you do today? Would you seek to to accumulate as much personal wealth or power?
We need to shift the focus of ME to WE: to treat others as you would want to be treated—to stop focussing on personal wants and needs and choose to see things through the eyes of others.