We humans have only been on this planet that we call Earth for a relatively short period of time – only a couple hundred thousand years out of the 4.5 billion years the Earth has existed. Still, during that relatively short period we have evolved to become the dominant species on the planet, largely because of our well-developed brain, which enables advanced abstract reasoning, language, problem solving, sociality, and culture through social learning.
We are rightly proud of what we have been able to achieve, innovate and create during this time. Starting from the simplest of tools, to machines, factories, and complex systems such as an electricity grid or the Internet. But, if we look at the sophistication of our inventions and creations, they are still relatively elementary in comparison to the workings of the natural world.
I am a junkie for nature documentaries and take great inspiration from one of my all-time heroes, Sir David Attenborough. Watching and listening to him explaining the many wonders of the world instantly puts the accomplishments of the human race into context and clearly shows us that we are just inhabitants here on Earth. The big picture is still beyond our comprehension. We still can’t create anything living without relying on the re-creation process given to us by nature.
Yet, despite this, we have become full of ourselves. We seem to think that because we have become the dominant species, we are omnipotent and entitled to take and to do whatever we want. That we don’t need the Earth, but somehow vice versa. There is a really good video narrated by Julia Roberts that nails down this thought exceptionally well.
Being dominant means that our choices, actions and decisions affect the future of the whole planet, and with that comes an enormous responsibility – a responsibility that we have neglected in many ways, and in many cases because we didn’t understand the consequences of our actions. Now, when it comes to climate change and the mass extinction of species, we can no longer claim that we don’t know or understand. We have the facts. The question is, are we ready to make the smart choices and act responsibly? How do we use the power we have?
Beautiful – balanced – harmonious – regenerative – renewable – circular – efficient – adaptive – evolving. These are just some of the words that come to mind when I think about the Earth and nature. Intuitively, I believe that the application of those same principles to our life and man-made processes might just be the start we need. Instead of trying to live off the land, let’s live with the land. That to me is also the essence of sustainability – a choice between two options:
- Do you live your life or run your business to maximize your own benefit in the short-term, and at the expense of the planet and others inhabiting it?
- Do you live your life and run your business in a way that benefits everyone in the long-term and allows others to live and thrive?
As said, I believe the reason that we have become the dominant species on this planet is because we are able to communicate on a relatively sophisticated and conceptual level. We are able to explain complex topics and act on the information. What that enables is collaboration. We are able to – if we so choose – to collaborate and even create cultures of collaboration. Individual choices matter, but the real magic happens when our choices, as individuals, cities, countries, businesses and organizations are aligned. That’s when we are able to change things, in a relatively short period of time, and have a lasting impact.
To preserve the planet, we need all stakeholders to work together, to use all the creativity and determination in us. Use the existing solutions available and to continue to innovate for more. We need to invest in areas that help mitigate climate change and we need governments to guide our actions by regulation and incentives.
This is exactly what the Energy Efficiency Movement is all about. Bringing together all stakeholders to innovate and act for a more energy efficient, regenerative, adaptive world. Together, we can make a real difference if that’s how we decide to use our power.
By Sebastian Linko,
Group Vice President,
Head of Communications.
The real magic happens when our choices, as individuals, cities, countries, businesses and organizations are aligned
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