BSB 106     J. Morris Hicks     (8-2-17) 

Gates. Musk. Bezos. Can They Save Humanity?
by J. Morris Hicks

I think so--and I have an idea for how they can.

I have long believed that these three remarkable leaders could accomplish almost anything--particularly if they all joined forces to work on a civilization-threatening global emergency.
Bill Gates. Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos.

Bill Gates founded Microsoft and Jeff Bezos founded Amazon and owns the Washington Post. Elon Musk founded Tesla and SpaceX, is CEO of Neuralink and is Chairman of Solar City.

Now, what about that emergency?

A little background. On 7-31-17, my BSB featured 1700 concerned scientists who issued a lengthy "warning to humanity" in 1992--about the fact that "human beings and the natural world are on a collision course" and that a great many things must be done to right our ship and save our civilization.

Toward the end of their well-written "warning," they provided this brief conclusion:

A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated." 

Despite their good intentions, nothing much has changed relative to our "stewardship" in the last 25 years--except that almost all of the environmental issues they raised in 1992 have gotten much worse. 

Now, as their "second chance" warning goes out to humanity, I have concluded that another warning letter of appeal aimed at addressing a plethora of global issues is simply not going to work for many reasons: 
  1. There are far too many issues; making it impossible to organize and execute the many initiatives that would be required to get us back on the path to sustainability. 
  2. There is no organized group of leaders, countries or religious groups that can take responsibility and lead.
  3. Since things have gotten much worse since 1992, actions to correct those many issues are much more urgently needed now than ever before.
  4. Since the primary environmental problem is us (and our harmful and wasteful lifestyle), we'll need to replace the foundation of the entire global economy--one that is now built on maximizing the consumption of STUFF in a world of finite resources. No small task, indeed.
  5. Bottom LineThere is no single, critical emergency--necessary to rally billions of people into action. 
Need for Emergency. After reading TEN BILLION in 2013, I was convinced that what we really needed to turn things around with regards to our "stewardship" of the planet, was a good old-fashioned emergency. 

That's because we humans have trouble generating "urgency" some kind of impending disaster to bring us all together to fight a common cause. Here's someone that knows a thing or two about that topic:

Stephen Emmott, PhD in Physics, Visiting Professor at University of Oxford and Director of Computational Science at Microsoft.

With regard to the unsustainable way of living that we humans have embraced, he used an example of a real emergency to make his point about the difficulty of rapidly being able to change that way of living:

If we discovered tomorrow that there was an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, and--because physics is a fairly simple science--we were able to calculate that it was going to hit Earth on June 3, 2072, and we knew that its impact was going to wipe out 70 percent of all life on Earth, governments worldwide would marshal the entire planet into unprecedented action.

Every scientist, engineer, university, and business would be enlisted: half to find a way of stopping it, the other half to find a way for our species to survive and rebuild if the first option were unsuccessful. 

We are in almost precisely that situation now, except that there isn't a specific date and there isn't an asteroid. 

The problem is us.
Emmott's Conclusion. He ended his book with four words: "I think we're f_ _ _ _d" in describing our long term chances for survival. During my meeting with him in 2013 in London, we discussed how rapidly changing our food choices might buy us the time needed to address other global issues like overpopulation, overconsumption and climate change.

Climate Change.  Arguably our most urgent emergency . Emmott talked about one single problem (an asteroid). According to his thinking, if we try to get people to rally around more than one emergency, we'll be likely to fail in all of them.  

Conveniently, if we all work urgently on the single biggest threat to our future (climate change), we'll simultaneously be addressing many of the issues that drive water shortage, species extinction, ocean acidification, deforestation, etc. 

I see climate change as the "elephant in the room" when it comes to global environmental issues. Not only does it exacerbate most other issues, I am convinced that we're much more likely to radically change our way of living if we limit ourselves to just one emergency. In this case, a  rifle has a much better chance for success than a shotgun.

Keep it Simple. Get it Done! But How?

An Idea that CAN Work. We know from the "concerned" scientists' 1992 warning, that another well-written, widely-distributed warning letter of appeal focusing on dozens of issues--is not likely to work any better the second time around. 

But what could actually work is if three of the world's most recognized, wealthiest and successful leaders (Bezos, Musk and Gates) all became fully enlightened to the grim realities of climate change. Then, working together, they would urgently provide vision, leadership, global team building and funding toward undertaking bold initiatives to save Mother Earth before she destroys our civilization and the human species. 

In a short period of time, they would ensure that almost every person in world knows all about the most important project in the history of humanity--and our need to work urgently together to save our civilization. They would also figure out a way to enlist the support and active participation of every nation, academic institution, corporation and religious organization on Earth.

With enough conviction, resolve and combined net worth over $200 billion, I would not bet against their success.

How do we get their attention? We find a way to get a legitimate hearing with at least one of them. According to the six degrees of separation idea, someone reading this BSB may know someone who knows someone who knows one of these three leaders. If we have a meaningful engagement with just one of them, then he will bring in the other two--and many others. 

I said that I had an idea that "could" work . But it will only work IF a few powerful people (like Musk, Gates and Bezos) become fully enlightened about what's at stake--then make addressing that emergency their #1 priority in each of their lives.

I know that's a big "IF," but sincerely believe that it's the kind of essential, well-coordinated, urgent action required if we're going to have a decent chance of saving our civilization.

At our first meeting with Bezos, Gates and/or Musk, we'll also bring in a few "big picture" scientists and thinkers like Stephen Emmott, Peter Wadhams, James Hansen, Bill McKibben, T. Colin Campbell  and James Cameron.

Please send this message to everyone you know.

Keep it Simple. Get it Done. The Clock is Ticking.

Credit Due. I would like to thank the Union of Concerned Scientists  for providing the inspiration for this idea. 

Be well,  J. Morris (Jim) Hicks

Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Moonglow J. Morris Hicks

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