The Tipping Point
We are living through an ecological tipping point that is already changing the world. The pandemic, forest fires in Greece and California, very high temperatures in Europe and reports in the Washington Post and The Guardian that the Gulf Stream is shutting down. All of which individually are indicators of systemic feedback loops. Together they provide clear evidence that we have passed the point where climate change may have impacts upon human life and are now experiencing the negative spiral, where one feedback loop reinforces another in a cascading sequence of ecological turbulence that is effectively a form of push-back against the impact of humanity.
As noted in a previous article, the economic impetus to create robust systems of organisation is doomed to fail against a backdrop of complex ecological turbulence. As we discover this the hard way, humanity will be forced to confront the underlying belief, we have held since the enlightenment, in our role as the master and conqueror of nature. Adapting to this new dynamic environment will require us to become more resilient as people, managers, organisatons and societies. Such adaptability will require us to question our most basic assumptions. As my friend James Atkins wrote on LinkedIn recently, we are likely to have to force carbon creating businesses to close, not by 2050, but much sooner. In fact we may have to go much further. Any organisation that threatens ecological resilience may have to be examined. Given how ubiquitous robustness is as a model of organisation this will be extremely challenging.
Continuing to tackle the impact of each ecological crisis as a separate tactical problem is not only an error. It is as futile an exercise as children building sand dams to keep the sea out or squeezing balloons in your hand to contain them. The simple fact is that unless we learn, not just how to consume more with less resources, but actually learn to consume less with less resources we will lose this battle.
Even if its component parts have often not been terribly sustainable, capitalism has proved remarkably resilient as a system. It now faces its greatest challenge yet. The innovative dynamism of capitalism could be a powerful force to drive resilience. However, to do that it will need us, as the managers of the system, to radically rethink what we mean by value, how we measure it and how we capture it.
If you found this article interesting don’t simply click like. Think what action you can take, engage in the debate, use your power as a consumer, as an executive and as a citizen to influence those around you. Two years ago the pandemic and the Greek fires were the stuff of Bruce Willis movies. If you want the future for your children to be different now is not the moment to hesitate. Please engage now.
If you want to inform yourself please read:
James Lovelock – The Revenge of Gaia
Jared Diamond – Collapse
Peter Senge – The Necessary Revolution
E. F. Schumacher – Small is Beautiful