BEHOLD! THE GREAT DISRUPTION
“One of those who has been warning me of [a coming crisis] for a long time is Paul Gilding, the Australian environmental business expert. He has a name for this moment – when both Mother Nature and Father Greed have hit the wall at once – ‘The Great Disruption’. ” - Thomas Friedman in the New York Times
The time for worrying about climate change has come and gone, says Australian environmentalist Paul Gilding.
Instead – just like passengers on a plane headed for inevitable collision – we should brace for impact.
Now comes “The Great Disruption”.
The latest United Nations report on the health of our planet says the outlook is “grim”. Released last week, the report is the result of three years work by 300 scientists.
A few facts:
- 20 percent of the earth’s vertebrae species are under threat of extinction.
- Coral reefs have declined by 38 percent since 1980.
- Greenhouse gas emissions are on track to double over the next 50 years.
- 90 percent of water and fish samples are contaminated by pesticides.
- Little or no progress has been made over the past five years on nearly a third of the main environmental goals, including global warming.
Summing up, the UN report says that several critical global, regional and local thresholds are close or have been exceeded: ”Abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet are likely to occur.”
And that is exactly the thesis of Paul Gilding’s 2011 book The Great Disruption.
It’s been called the most important environmental book in decades. “Essential reading.”
The result of our living beyond the planet’s means will cause immense loss, suffering and global conflict, says Gilding. We will have come to the end of Economic Growth, Version 1.0.
However, he also believes that these environmental challenges will bring out the best humanity can offer: compassion, innovation, resilience, and adaptability.
“Why didn’t more of us see it coming? After all, the signals have been clear enough – signals that the ecological system that supports human society is hitting its limits, groaning under the strain of an economy simply too big for the planet. But we didn’t and, as a result, the time to act preventatively has passed.
Now we must brace for impact. Now comes The Great Disruption.
It is true that the coming years won’t be pleasant, as our society and economy hits the wall and then realigns around what was always an obvious reality: You cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. Not ‘should not’, or ‘better not’, but cannot.
We can, however, get through what’s ahead – if we prepare… not only can we make it through, we can come out the other side in better shape.
Taking all this together, we can now say with a high degree of certainty that change is going to start coming thick and fast. Change in our economy, in our politics, and in our lives.
Change that will be challenging, but that will ultimately lead us to a better place.”
Gilding says the impending crisis represents a rare chance to replace our addiction to growth with an ethic of sustainability, and it’s already happening.
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