Talk about what?
Our widespread reluctance to openly discuss, and take urgent action in addressing, the most troubling issue in the history of humanity:
The increasing likelihood that our civilization will collapse before the end of this century
While it's been obvious for some time that most people are uncomfortable talking about climate change and other sustainability issues, I'd never heard it described as somewhat of a "taboo" around openly discussing them.
That is until a few weeks when I watched a 2016 talk by
Dr. Rupert Read
- as he spoke
to a class of incoming students at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.
What a shame that there is a taboo around discussing the most important issue in the history of humanity!
For if we cannot even talk about our global, multi-faceted sustainability crisis, how can we ever expect to solve the complex phenomenon that could very well trigger the end of our civilization and our species?
More about Dr. Read's message. I describe it as an uplifting talk about a most troublesome topic. To be sure, a few typically skeptical people have told me, after viewing this video themselves, that everyone who cares about the future of humanity should watch it.
And then they should start talking about this formerly "taboo" topic - every chance they get.
12-minute video. Take a look as Dr. Rupert Read talks candidly about truth, action and hope to that group of young students.
The Cliff's Notes Version. If you don't have 12 minutes right now, here are a few of my notes.
Early in the above video, Dr. Read unexpectedly used the word "taboo" in the first minute of his talk. Speaking to a group of young students with an average age under 20, he began as follows:
It's a great privilege really for me to have the opportunity to address you at the start of your university careers and what a fantastically exciting time it is for all of you.
But I have to tell you. I don't envy you. And the reason I don't envy you is that I believe that there is a very real possibility that the latter part of the lives of most of the people in this room is going to be grim. Or non-existent.
I'm sorry to have to say it. (some muffled laughter). I hear nervous laughter - probably because people don't usually talk about this sort of thing. There's a taboo around it and that's what I want to talk about.
Dr. Read goes on to talk about the climate scientists at their university and their near universal conclusion that the reality of climate change is likely to be far worse than the forecasts that appear in their conservative papers.
Throughout his brief talk, he describes how far humanity has strayed from living in harmony with nature and appeals to the young students with statements like this one:
I actually think that those of you in this room today should be very angry at the generations that are older than you because there's been what I would call a festival of recklessness or a carnival of short-termism that characterize the last couple of generations that potentially leaves you in a very perilous position.
He then proceeds to address what we must do about the grim situation in which we find ourselves. He says that we must "think about this problem and address it in every possible way."
He ends his talk with this sincere appeal to the young students in attendance and, indeed, to the entire world:
So those are my suggestions. I don't know if they will work and if they will be enough. But one thing I do know is that we need some kind of creative thinking and we need some radical answers.
Otherwise, we are going to end up in the kind of situation that I described at the beginning of this talk-where in five or ten years time, I am up here again feeling even less envious of those in the audience.
But I don't want it to be like that. I would like to be envious of you in every way as you start the incredible adventure of your university education. I think there's nothing worse for human beings than the thought that they might be bequeathing to their descendants a worse world than they currently have. Thank you.
The Bottom Line. We all need to get rid of the "taboo" associated with talking about the most important topic in the history of humanity.
A good place to start might be in showing this 12-minute video one-on-one with each of your best friends or closest family members. Later on, you might want to show this video at a cocktail party in your own home for a dozen or so friends.
It's quite possible that you may fear alienating certain friends and family with this kind of "doom and gloom" during a party when we're supposed to be having a good time. I have alienated a few people myself over the years.
No doubt there will be some awkward moments along the way and you may even lose some of your so-called "great" friends. If that happen, in order to comfort yourself, perhaps you should think about your own children or grandchildren sitting in that lecture hall in the UK with Dr. Read - and ask yourself this question:
Are you terrified or are you envious about the future of your grandchildren on this planet?
If you're terrified, you will want to do all that you can to destroy the most damaging taboo in human history -
the taboo associated with actually talking - openly and often - about the steps we must take to improve the long-term chances of survival for all of the children who follow us on this planet.
What can you do to make things better?
1. Live as greenly as possible while doing all that you can to raise the awareness of "big picture" solutions that are ultimately necessary to save our civilization.
Finally, here are a few of my earlier BSBs that are related to this topic:
2. Share this BSB and my
"Mama Ain't Happy"
BSB with prominent journalists, thought leaders and/or elected officials whom you respect. They need to learn a lot more about the many reasons why
Mama ain't happy.
3. Help me find thoughtful audiences where I can speak freely about the most important topic in the history of humanity.
Until next time, just remember...
Humanity is on a collision course with Nature.
A damaged Nature will survive. We may not.
We must change course to avert an ecological disaster.
J. Morris (Jim) Hicks
CEO, 4Leaf Global, LLC
(now contains 5-minute video of me speaking in Tucson)
My next public presentation will be on April 4, 2019, at 6:30 pm at the University of Scranton at an event co-sponsored by an "empowered eating" group and an "environmental studies" group. It will take place at the Pearn Auditorium in Brennan Hall.
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