As you may recall, his prognosis for our future as a species was not very encouraging at the time -- to say the least. Today, he is a visiting professor at University College London and runs a company that is dedicated to creating transformational, science-based innovation.
A little background. Emmott is the former chief scientist and head of computational science at Microsoft in the UK and the author of TEN BILLION, a powerful one-hour read that helped to open my eyes in 2013 to the alarming sustainability crises that we are facing.
His closing words in the book, provided on the slide below, also appear in this 3-minute video, where he ends his talk with the F-bomb:
Shortly after his book was published, I had the pleasure of visiting with Dr. Emmott over coffee and tea at The Berkeley Hotel in London. After that visit, we chatted a few times via e-mail, but I had not heard anything about him for over five years until last week -- when I found an article in the British press that was published in August of 2020.
According to the article below, Emmott reports that, on the sustainability front, world leaders have done basically nothing in the past seven years since he published TEN BILLION. Now things are much worse -- when it comes to our outlook for surviving as a species.
Here is a link to the full article:
In case you may not have time to read Fletcher's entire piece right now, just take a look at a few excerpts:
A coronavirus-type pandemic was inevitable, Emmott, presently professor of biological computation at University College London, tells me by telephone from his home in Camberwell, south-east London. "This one is a very small glimpse -- thankfully not as severe as it could be -- into a potential and likely future." The next pandemic could kill a billion people, he warns.
"We are largely continuing to ignore, and failing to understand or to attempt to understand, the impact of our behaviour collectively on our future selves and on the environment and ecology on which we and many other species depend," he says.
Advocating a massive reduction in consumption, he says, "Making do with less does not make life dull, says Emmott, who is largely vegetarian, wears old clothes, has few possessions other than books and drives his 16-year-old car less than 100 miles a year.
"Governments don't want to do anything that won't enable them to get re-elected, and nearly everything that's required here, whether it's to do with pandemics or climate change or ecological degradation, would make politicians unelectable." On the contrary, they encourage consumption because "it creates jobs, it creates employment, it creates economic growth".
Regarding overpopulation, he says it is "unfathomable that talking about population at all remains a taboo subject. I just can't understand it."
He has "no faith whatever in governments doing the right thing", and sees even supposed triumphs of international cooperation, such as the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, unravelling. He believes there is no prospect of the Covid-19 pandemic changing our destructive ways - on the contrary, "governments will encourage us to resume our consumption in order to 'get the economy back on track' and 'stimulate recovery'".
Please read on. This SOS Memo ends on a good note -- as we explore an idea for engaging the sincere interest of Elon Musk on this monumental topic. Why? I answered that question last week in this piece: Misdirected, Under-Leveraged Genius of Elon Musk.
During the past few months, I have focused on the rapidly-expanding need for humanity to begin aggressively tackling a plethora of environmental issues that threaten our future as a species. But, I see nothing in the news to suggest that anyone in power is taking any kind of decisive action whatsoever.
Dr. Emmott seems to be feeling the same way -- providing this statement at the end of the August 2020, Martin Fletcher piece above:
Eight years on, as we approach those environmental and ecological tipping points beyond which there is no return, he sees no reason to change his bleak conclusion that the world is "fucked". "Everyone chose to ignore, and still does, the warnings in the book, even though almost every single thing I predicted is unfolding yearly before us."
Sir David Attenborough agrees. In this six-minute, condensed portion of "A Life On Our Planet," an 80-minute documentary starring Attenborough on Netflix, a number of scientists and environmentalists talk about many of the same issues that Emmott wrote about in 2013 and is speaking loudly about now. Take just six minutes to watch this NOW!
Sadly, as with Dr. Emmott, Sir David doubts seriously that anything is about to change. At times in the movie, it really looks like he is beginning to cry.
Impressively, even at age 94, he continues to do everything he can to help focus the attention of world leaders on the absolute necessity that we urgently re-think and re-invent the way we live on this planet. Here is the link to his full 80-minute film on Netflix:
Evolving Vision. This past Sunday, I posted a piece about Elon Musk. In it, based on his incredible record, I concluded that Musk is an exceptionally rare individual who would likely be ultra-successful in almost ANY endeavor that he might choose to tackle.
That said, how do we raise the chances that he might "choose" to focus the majority of his rare genius on the single most serious issue ever faced by humanity in our 300,000 years on this planet -- our impending extinction?
We do it by somehow getting him to agree to sit down and discuss our global crisis with Sir David and the four, highly respected, "big picture" scientists listed below. In such a setting, I am confident that Elon would listen, ask questions, discuss possibilities and quickly grasp the cold, hard facts regarding our steadily fleeting chances of surviving long-term as a species.
My thinking is that the smaller the group, the better the chances for a genuine discussion on the most serious topic in the history of humanity. Here are my reasons why each of these four noted scientists should be included:
Dr. Stephen Emmott, age 60. To my knowledge, he is the only highly-regarded, "big-picture" scientist who has been studying, writing and speaking about this frightening sustainability topic for the better part of of a decade. And his message, as you can see above, is very compelling.
Dr. James Lovelock, age 101. To me, he is the ultimate "big picture" scientist who has been describing what humanity must do to survive for many years. This amazing man has literally done it all, including a key role in repairing the hole in the ozone layer over thirty years ago. At 101, we may be running out of time when it comes to his availability for such a conference.
Dr. Peter Wadhams, age 72. After overseeing fifty-five polar expeditions during his brilliant career at the University of Cambridge, he is arguably the world's leading authority when it comes to the relationship between the melting of the Arctic and climate change. In addition to the need to radically change our lifestyles, he has concluded that it is imperative that we begin taking vast quantities of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, age 87. Since a sustainable way of living for all humans is simply not possible without a massive and urgent shift away from eating animal-based foods, he, as the world's leading authority on that topic, must be involved. He has the all-important requisite background when it comes to debunking the "protein myth" regarding the almost ubiquitous, perceived "need" to eat those foods to be healthy -- a falsehood that is sincerely believed by some of the world's most brilliant citizens -- including many scientists.
The Bottom Line. What we need is a vision for how we humans can live sustainably in the future. Once we have that vision, we can start building enthusiasm around an exciting future global lifestyle for humanity that can be sustained indefinitely.
We must have systemic change in the way we live and, unfortunately, individual citizens are not capable of effecting those kinds of changes.
That's why it's high time for the world's best, brightest and most informed scientists and visionaries to come together and hammer out a vision for the best possible course for humanity to pursue.
With Sir David at 94 and Dr. Lovelock at 101, we may not have much time left to get together and draw upon their wisdom as we envision a technologically feasible, new way of living for all of humanity.
During this time of Covid and, considering the ages of some of the proposed attendees, a two-day, professionally managed, virtual conference probably makes the most sense. So, here's our list of target participants as it now stands in alphabetical order:
- David Attenborough
- Colin Campbell
- Stephen Emmott
- J. Morris Hicks, author of Outcry
- James Lovelock
- Elon Musk
- Peter Wadhams
- Conference Chair TBD
How do we make this conference happen? I have already confirmed Peter Wadhams' interest in participating and also happen to know that Colin Campbell will definitely want to be there.
As for the other three Brits: Attenborough, Lovelock and Emmott, I am almost positive that they would all agree to participate if Elon Musk agrees to participate in the event. And that's where #8, the Conference Chair comes in.
In that crucial role, we need for a well-known individual whose own global fame and reputation -- enables him or her to get an audience with Elon Musk, during which she/he convinces him to participate in such a crucially-important conference.
If you know of any candidates for the Conference Chair position, please reach out to them and introduce them to me. I will take it from there. This is part of the role that I served for my clients when I was the owner of an executive search firm, the Ansley Consulting Group, where our tagline was Delivering Value Well Beyond Executive Search.
Delivering value to future generations is exactly what I am trying to do now and I welcome all questions and comments via email to me at the email address below.
Also, let's talk.To help jumpstart a global conversation
that I keep encouraging, I am now offering to conduct private Zoom conferences free of charge to groups of almost any size. I look forward to Zooming with you and your group sometime soon.
In preparation for those sessions, I have developed a one-hour format consisting of an opening statement followed by a 20-minute slide show and then ending with a discussion and Q&A with the attendees. The sessions you organize will be far more interesting and productive if attendees have read Outcry in advance.
Our book, for a host of environmental reasons, is only available as an e-book on Amazon. As such, it contains hyperlinks to hundreds of references and videos, is less expensive, does not kill any trees and does not have to be manufactured and delivered.
You can join my mailing list and/or find all of my previous postings by visiting the SOS Memos page on my website. Here are a few of them where you can see how my vision has evolved since that first "creative idea" on 9-21-18:
As always, I am just trying to spark a global conversation about what is needed. By sharing a vision of what I believe is possible, I hope to influence others to think bigger, better and bolder.
As for speaking, I continue to search for mainstream audiences who may have an interest in learning more about a realistically hopeful vision for our future - and their role in making that vision come true.
In the months ahead, I will continue to focus on the urgent need for a totally reinvented greening of our civilization - beginning with a model in the USA that could be applied globally over the next fifty years.
Upcoming talks: There are lots of open dates on my calendar and I look forward to the opportunity of tailoring my presentation to best suit an audience you may have in mind:
Universities, churches, book groups, legislative bodies, think-tanks, environmental organizations, alumni associations, leadership clubs, PTA's, family, neighbors
and/or civic groups who may appreciate a message of reality and hope for our future.
What else can you do to help? Three things:
1. Live as greenly as possible while doing all that you can to raise the awareness of "big picture" solutions that are crucially necessary for saving our civilization.
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. Here are a few more GRATOLA-related blogs that you can share with your most powerful friends, leaders, journalists and movie producers.
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.
This SOS Memo series was created by:
J. Morris (Jim) Hicks
CEO, 4Leaf Global, LLC
In the past two years, I have spoken at a VegFest
Fort Myers, at vsh.org in Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, a Plant Powered Manhattan event in New York, at a lakeside health conference in South Haven, Michigan
, in Buffalo, NY, at the University of Scranton
, at Dr. Fuhrman's Golden Gate Health Getaway in California
and at the Healthy World Sedona
Health and Sustainability Conference in AZ.
Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth
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