Why do we continue to let ourselves get bound up in thinking that we can’t do anything about the biggest challenges of our time?
I say in my “Impossible is a Dare” talks that we have enough abundance for all, but big kinks in the distribution—which we can fix. Hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change are all resource issues. And when we see them that way, they are all fixable.
- Hunger and poverty about not having enough to cover basic necessities; the resource issues are obvious
- Wars usually start because of a chain of events that begins with one country’s perception that a different country is taking something that belongs to the first country: land, water, energy sources, minerals, labor ,shipping access, etc. Even religious and ethnic wars trace back to resource conflicts, if we go deep enough.
- Catastrophic climate change is a bit different, but it’s still about resources. Instead of being about one country having too much or too little, it’s about using the wrong kinds of resources, or using them in environmentally destructive, socially harmful ways.
In fact, climate solutions require solutions based in abundance. We have to shift from finite, expensive, polluting energy sources such as petroleum products and uranium—whose extraction and refining as well as burning for fuel cause environmental destruction—to infinite, inexpensive, and clean sources such as solar, wind, small-scale hydro, magnetic, geothermal, and designing for conservation, deployed at or near the point of use. When we allow ourselves to think abundantly, problems have a way of turning into solutions. Turn loose the socially conscious, environmentally aware engineers!
When companies start thinking about solutions based in abundance, they have even greater incentive to solve these problems—because they can see the profit in it. But too often, we “should” them with guilt and shame—very ineffective tools. Instead of nagging them about how the world is suffering because of their actions, let’s show them how acting differently can address these problems not out of guilt and shame but in creating and marketing profitable products and services.
The creativity of business can create markets where none existed, using technologies we’ve never harvested. Think about how a small-space indoor vertical garden can provide fresh veggies in urban food deserts…how green lighting options such as solar-powered LEDs that replace toxic and flammable kerosene can better the environment, health, safety, and the local economy all at once…how studying nature’s amazing engineering—”biomimimcry”—can create new products like adhesives modeled after gecko feet or a fuel-sipping plane designed to mimic the most aerodynamic birds.
If you’d like to know more about this, my award-winning 10th book Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World
offers lots of examples.