The biggest issue facing civilization today, “how to slow down catastrophic global warming so we have time to create the sustainable, clean economy of the future,” quickly comes back to the personal level:
“Ok, I get it… What can I personally do?”
But it’s a big world and a hell of a big problem, so where does one start?
I’ve wrestled with this in my own life and came up with the idea that there is a concise formula each of us can follow. We start by asking, “What personal capital can I deploy?”
For most people, a large answer is their lifelong working hours – since we have to make a living anyway, we may as well choose wisely rather than automatically going to work for The Man, especially if that means selling out and going to work in an oil, coal or other industry which actively creates global warming. Be part of the solution, not the problem, and use your life’s work to be a solver. That’s real personal capital you can deploy.
Also, most people have available to them some reasonable amount of personal time they might use for advocacy, say one to two hours per week. That’s real personal capital you can deploy.
And for many, personal-capital may include cash donations to worthy nonprofits or political leaders who align well with fighting climate change and pushing sustainability. That’s real personal capital you can deploy.
The faith community can be among your beneficiaries, as virtually all the world’s major faiths now have initiatives defining the pollution which causes global warming as immoral in that it harms the weakest and poorest among us. And instructing their members how to view global warming from a mission point of view. That’s real personal capital you can deploy.
If we are clever, we recognize that “working through others” is a key lever we can deploy (that’s all managers and shareholders really do, and what we as voters do when we elect representitives). Influence the people around you. Sell, sell, sell… that’s real personal capital you can deploy.
Finally, the example you set for family, neighbors and friends has a powerful influence shaping their attitudes and good works, and especially with children this influence can persist for a lifetime, for example ingraining the habit of voting. That’s real personal capital you can deploy.
It’s all personal capital… it is what you and I bring to the table, our very power as individuals. If we are clever, we can have outsized effects by using our personal power skillfully.
The formula is “Three and a Half Steps to Slowing Global Warming.” For busy, people, it works to first look at what we personally have to offer.
Taking a moment to assess the sources of our personal power is a vigorous catalyst to maximize our personal effectiveness, which can be done without completely sidetracking our lives as busy people.
It mostly takes stuff we are doing anyway already… and simply asks of us that we re-target those activities, in a fresh and aware way, to be part of the solution and not the problem.
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How does one get started saving the planet? Start by deeply knowing your own sources of personal power: 1) To save the planet, Change Yourself First; 2) To save the planet, Invest Your Working Life; 3) To save the planet, Use Your Voice and take advocacy seriously! Never miss a chance to vote, and never stop influencing your government and businesses locally, at the state level, and at the national level.
And in all cases and at all times, cast aside the learned-helplessness that infects so much of modern life…
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