IMAGINATION – where we are headed and where we could go
In Good Enough for the Climate, I talk a lot about Action and the preconditions for Action – why we act and what prevents us from taking acting. Sometimes we fail to act because it takes energy, it takes investment. Its physics. You must put energy into something to change its direction. We have a hard time seeing problems in the future – we underestimate future outcomes – so we fail to act. We don’t like breaking with social norms or traditions, even when they are harmful.
Paradoxically, we are also hardwired to act. It’s the fight or flight impulse that kept our ancestors out of harms way. Action creates new realities and opportunities. Taking action is a way of gaining control. Its an expression of optimism and hope.
One thing I didn’t talk about in the book was Imagination. As Christiana Figueres (https://twitter.com/CFigueres, https://www.globaloptimism.com/) says in her TED Talk in 2016, “Impossible is not a fact, it’s an attitude... There is no way you can deliver victory without optimism.” (https://www.ted.com/talks/christiana_figueres_the_inside_story_of_the_paris_climate_agreement). Well, optimism and hope require some imagination about the future. How does all the data, climate predictions, economic forecasts, technology innovations, and social trends manifest in the future? We need a good imagination for this. So, imagination can help us drive action on climate change.
I recently read and really recommend, The Future We Choose, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac present a vivid picture of the two worlds we might inhabit in the future. In Chapter 2 they talk about the world we are creating if we fail to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change. Its not a pretty picture. Its one with increased scarcity, disease, and conflict. One where people are displaced from their homes and significant portions of the planet are uninhabitably warm.
Alternatively, in Chapter 3, they imagine a world where we transform to a zero-carbon economy. We have more greenspace, more nature. Our air is cleaner. Our jobs are safer. Our cities are quieter. We are healthier. The world is more peaceful.
We don’t yet know all the actions we need to take to get there, but here Imagination is the key ingredient. Imagination drives our optimism. I hope you will give this interesting book a read.