I recognize that not everyone will be swayed by the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, yet I am increasingly convinced that deniers are not the problem.
Deniers Are Being Sidelined, But Pessimists Remain
With the world's largest investors ringing alarm bells over climate change, and voters sending a resounding message that they want climate action, the problem is no longer the people who say that there is no problem. Rather, it's those who acknowledge that the problem is real, but say that it is either too big to fix, or that the time is not right to act decisively.
Whether it's securing the universal right to vote, flying a person to the moon, or inventing the wheel—we human beings have always been at our best when we focus not on the limitations before us, but the possibilities ahead of us.
Creative Thinking Versus Fossil Fuels
When naysayers tell us that we'll never find a drop-in replacement for energy intensive fossil fuels, visionaries respond by rethinking our transportation paradigm and designing houses that require little to no energy to heat or cool.
A Coherent Vision for Vibrant Communities
When naysayers warn of dark international conspiracies forcing us all into luddite urban slums, visionaries counter with workable examples of prosperous, walkable cities.
Making The American Dream Real
When naysayers distort the idea of the American Dream to be about how much you can acquire and how many square feet you can own, visionaries build frugal, mortgage-free homes or design apartments that meet people's actual needs at an affordable price.
A Smarter Model for Business
When naysayers argue that throwing more resources and energy at the economy is the only way to keep it running, visionaries explore collaborative consumption and virtual offices to craft businesses that require a fraction of the resources of their predecessors. (And they then set about rethinking the fundamentals of the dinosaur economy itself.)
A Food System That Can Last
When naysayers suggest that the only way to feed the world is to plunder the oceans, deplete our soils and warm our climate, visionaries transform warehouses into climate-proof urban farms, they plant vegetables on our rooftops, and they invent smart new ways to fish without undermining the ability of future generations to do the same.
A Responsive Energy Grid
And finally, when naysayers tell us that renewables are too unpredictable to work without fossil fuels, visionaries find ways to match demand with supply and make our entire energy system smarter and more resilient in the process.
Pardon the link fest, but you get the idea. As Alex Steffen reminded me in a recent interview about Carbon Zero Cities, a lot of money is being spent by vested interests to define what is possible—most often with a view to maintaining the status quo at all costs. But this isn't really about what is and isn't possible. It's about picking a future we want to see and then deploying our skills, our creativity and our ambition to make it happen.
Next time someone tells you to "Drill, Baby, Drill", remember that we can do better. And then set about doing it.