Convergence of Changes
Throughout history we have seen major events impacting society, from wars to famine. Most of these events happened by itself, in a form of isolation. From that experience we have developed a singular approach to change. This means that we treat change as a singular event whereby we trust experts from a particular area to guide us through the change.
From Rethinking climate change 2021: At the heart of humanity’s climate change challenge is a mindset problem that overlooks the nonlinear nature, speed, and dynamics of change in both earth systems and human systems. As a result, we often examine both problems and solutions through a linear, reductive lens that fails to recognize the complex systems dynamics driving change.
What we now see is a convergence of many changes, all at the same time. And clearly, we are not used to the intensity and the connectedness of these changes. An example is the COVID19 pandemic. The experts in charge are health professionals. Sure, those are definitely needed. But what about small business expert as many of small businesses had to close during lockdown? What about behavioral specialists to deal with the fact that people cannot relax in the way they are used to, as restaurants, bars, clubs and festivals are closed? What about education specialists to make sure that children still learn what they need to learn and still get the experience of social connection?
COVID19 and the unrest in society is not a change in isolation. There was already a growing gap between:
- Technology specialists and non-tech people
- Business requirements and the education curriculum
- Resources and nature-loss
- Rich and poor
- Jobs and no-jobs
Climate change is not a singular event. The extreme weather in 2021 – the heat domes, droughts, fires, floods and cyclones – are showing this.
Patrick Vallance, UK government chief scientific adviser, says: The climate crisis is as much a rural problem as an urban one. It is both economic and human, domestic and international. This means transformation is required at every level of society: individuals, employers, institutions and international partners will need to work together to understand the trade-offs, agree compromises and seize opportunities. And just as scientists are pooling insights from diverse fields of expertise, policymakers will need to work in new ways, sharing ideas across disciplines to plot a clear path from here to net zero. This is a whole systems challenge. Tackling it will require a systemic approach.
“The greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5C and to restore nature."“Urgent, society-wide changes must be made and will lead to a fairer and healthier world."“We, as editors of health journals, call for governments and other leaders to act, marking 2021 as the year that the world finally changes course.”
All of these changes are now happening at the same time. That means that we need a plural approach to change. A plural approach means that experts of different areas of expertise must (learn to) cooperate.
And we need to be aware that we are in a transition, meaning that we replace many old practices and products with new ones that are a better match with the requirements of the Connection Age.
Here is poignant example from Chris Fox: wealthy people want people to commute into London again as they own office space that is now being abandoned. And also, suppliers of these offices (sandwich shops etc.) also want you to stop WFH (work from home). Chris: This should be stopped; those folks need to take their loss (like the whip supplier who lost his biz when cars were being introduced instead of horses) and that loss is tiny compared to the damage op opening up the commuting.
Crucial is that we are not wasting our time, money and effort with addressing the symptoms, but that we address the root causes of these problems. The main cause is the underlying Operating System (economic, societal, environmental) that is prevalent since the Industrial Age.
We need to redesign those Systems to fit current and future requirements.
Here is why.
That elephant is called capitalism, and it is high time to face the fact that, as long as capitalism remains the dominant economic system of our globalized world, the climate crisis won’t be resolved.The primary reason for this derives ultimately from the nature of capitalism itself. Under capitalism — which has now become the default global economic context for virtually all human enterprise — efficiency improvements intended to reduce resource usage inevitably become launchpads for further exploitation, leading paradoxically to an increase, rather than decrease, in consumption.This dynamic, known as the Jevons paradox, was first recognized back in the nineteenth century by economist William Stanley Jevons, who demonstrated how James Watts’ steam engine, which greatly improved the efficiency of coal-powered engines, paradoxically caused a dramatic increase in coal consumption even while it decreased the amount of coal required for any particular application. The Jevons paradox has since been shown to be true in an endless variety of domains, from the invention in the nineteenth century of the cotton gin which led to an increase rather than decrease in the practice of slavery in the American South, to improved automobile fuel efficiency which encourages people to drive longer distances.When the Jevons paradox is generalized to the global marketplace, we begin to see that it’s not really a paradox at all, but rather an inbuilt defining characteristic of capitalism. Shareholder-owned corporations, as the primary agents of global capitalism, are legally structured by the overarching imperative to maximize shareholder returns above all else. Although they are given the legal rights of “personhood” in many jurisdictions, if they were actually humans they would be diagnosed as psychopaths, ruthlessly pursuing their goal without regard to any collateral damage they might cause.
In general, we need first principles thinking and focus on addressing the root causes of problems rather than treating the symptoms.
There are many industries whose business model is designed to focus on symptoms and thus perpetuate the problems. Specialists like in (mental) healthcare, management consulting, therapists, and coaches are not interested in solving the problems, they rather treat symptoms as that ensures that their paid work will continue.
Food companies make their products addictive so you keep on using them.
Planned obsolescence is built into many products and thus wastes resources.
Here are a few more indicators why a redesign of society’s operating systems is required. The list is not intended to be finite, it just should give you a flavor of the problems and show why we need new Operating Systems.
- Says that democracy is good for all whereas in reality it works best for the elite. Politicians have no vision. Mainly the populist have a vison/fantasy about a world without….foreigners etc.
- “…The role of the state, and government in general has exploded during this crisis, and it has become clear that if we can’t trust that our leaders and our government officials know what to do (and to actually do the right thing), emergency situations tend to get much worse, quickly ~ Gerd Leonhard
- Healthy food is a no go in most care centers. Unfortunately, I did experience this as a vegan myself. They treated me like an Eskimo ordering seal meat. Their wrong reason for staying meat-based is the costs.
- The focus on GDP as a metric how a country is doing, pushes consuming as the highest good.
- Politicians are elected to represent the people, whereas in reality they mostly represent themselves.
- Privatization of utility industries has not made products better and cheaper.
- Education does not adequately prepare youth for jobs and a regular income. Many youths are not used to getting feedback, or being criticized. They get upset and even start using pot in the office to deal with it. In this way they don’t grow, don’t learn.
- Healthcare needs to shift from sick care to prevention. As the demand is outgrowing the supply, there is a huge need to reconsider its hiring rules. Bureaucratic requirements for higher level of diplomas prevent qualified people to do the work. Also, elderly people in their sixties (who are still healthy and qualified) are not hired because they are too old and pose health risks, whereas life expectancy is in the 80’s.
- The growing population cannot be fed by the same food and water practices that are built on the assumption that we have unlimited resources.
- Family is no longer the cornerstone of society as many people live individually or are single parents. The dissolution of the family structure is a phenomenon all over the western countries, where 40% of children are raised with only one parent – Thomas Sowell
- Our own people first (nimby) mentality disrespects that we are all globally connected.
- The patriarchal system drives discrimination.
- Uniforms dehumanize people and give them a sense of authority.
- Happiness cannot be bought. Tony Hsieh founder of Zappos who wrote delivering happiness, paid friends to stay with him and killed himself. All the billions and status didn’t make him happy.
- In an era of technological progress and easy communication, it might seem reasonable to assume that the world’s working people have never had it so good. But wages are stagnant and prices are rising, so that everything from a bottle of beer to a prosthetic hip cost more. Economist Jan Eeckhout shows how this is due to a small number of companies exploiting an unbridled rise in market power—the ability to set prices higher than they could in a properly functioning competitive marketplace. Drawing on his own groundbreaking research and telling the stories of common workers throughout, he demonstrates how market power has suffocated the world of work, and how, without better mechanisms to ensure competition, it could lead to disastrous market corrections and political turmoil. The Profit Paradox describes how, over the past forty years, a handful of companies have reaped most of the rewards of technological advancements—acquiring rivals, securing huge profits, and creating brutally unequal outcomes for workers. Instead of passing on the benefits of better technologies to consumers through lower prices, these “superstar” companies leverage new technologies to charge even higher prices. The consequences are already immense, from unnecessarily high prices for virtually everything, to fewer startups that can compete, to rising inequality and stagnating wages for most workers and severely limited social mobility.
- Capitalism needs a focus on profit while destroying the climate as well as the mental health of people.
- Growth is the name of the game. That depletes nature’s resources.
We cannot address individual & collective behavior change, or state & corporate policy change until we fix our core ethos: The problem is that we incessantly promote the want of MORE, MORE, MORE, when we need a fundamental shift in values. We need to want less. @ziyatong
- There are not enough jobs for everyone and increasingly work will be done by AI and automation.
- Subsidizing fossil fuels: Globally, fossil fuel subsidies were $5.9 trillion in 2020 or about 6.8 percent of GDP, and are expected to rise to 7.4 percent of GDP in 2025.
- Lobbying favors organizations with deep pockets.
- Using the environment as an unlimited resource whereas the 6th mass extinction is happening.
- Agriculture causes widespread environmental destruction and is responsible for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Between 20 and 40 per cent of crops are lost each year to pests and diseases, despite colossal applications of pesticide. Global agricultural yields have plateaued, despite a 700-fold increase in fertilizer use over the second half of the twentieth century. Worldwide, thirty football fields’ worth of topsoil are lost to erosion every minute. Yet a third of food is wasted, and demand for crops will double by 2050. It is difficult to overstate the urgency of the crisis ~ Entangled Life, M. Sheldrake
- We are better than nature (animals, plants, fungi) versus we are dependent on nature.
- From the beginning of the industrial age, our economy has “externalized” costs. Costs like what? Costs like carbon. Like the plastic that’s now jamming up the oceans, of cleaning it up. Of the misery and despair that poverty breeds — the political costs of fascism and supremacy, which rear their heads in times of poverty. Of ecological collapse. How have we “externalized” those costs? Who have we externalized them to? Well, to “future generations,” economists once used to say. All the people who’d have to clean up the oceans and the skies and replant the forests and nurture the animals back to life. And do all that while figuring out ways to make things like steel and concrete and food and glass without killing the planet we lived on, or pushing our societies into fascism by way of inequality. Big job? Biggest in history.