Can humans evolve to the climate challenge?
Climate change is a higher order problem and, at its root, a human problem. It involves a level of complexity that makes it difficult for most people to understand and thus deal with. Human evolution is required to make progress. Einstein understood this type of situation when he said, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” But we must all struggle with the climate problem because struggle is the catalyst for the human development we need.
It follows that our governments – as human constructs – are generally ill-equipped to deal with the climate challenge. Indeed, many governments have conditioned their agencies to focus on the short-term and crisis response. It’s why governments can deal with COVID but not climate change. Furthermore, our governments govern for minorities, not the majority, because winning votes ‘at the margin’ determines who holds power. Winning over the minorities fuels pork-barrelling and the politics of fear to secure votes, particularly when dealing with difficult public policy issues like climate change. In essence, governments are not presently equipped to deal effectively with climate change. To whom then do we look?
Acting with a longer-term review
Some groups in society take longer-term views. They include financiers, professions (like architects and #engineers), farmers, indigenous communities, and parents. Their interests span decades, even generations. We see these interests, such as the flow of investors’ capital, now changing the flow of energy and resources into tackling climate change. Action to tackle climate change is now occurring at greater scale. But action must also occur at greater pace. What or who will provide the impetus for acceleration now, in the short-term?
In our modern economies, asset owners and customers hold power. Asset owners (investors) are mobilising their resources to tackle climate change. Acceleration must come from customers of business and government. You and I are those customers. We can make choose climate-friendly products and climate-active governments.
The human evolution test for Australians
In Australia, we will soon be tested. Will we, as customers of business and citizens in a democracy, become a force for acceleration? What do we believe in and who do we stand for? Do we believe we can rise to the challenge and thrive? Do we stand alongside and support the communities and workforces most vulnerable to climate-induced change? Or will short-term self-interest and fear thwart our growth, individually and collectively?
Climate change is a problem of our own making, fuelled by our industrial revolutions. Our next industrial revolution can be part of the solution, but its shape, pace and scale are human choices. Good choices will come from a higher level of thinking. So climate change is our human evolution challenge. It is a profound moment in human history. Are we ready to evolve? Are you?