When we talk about sustainability, the conversation often focuses on regulations, institutions, solutions, and programs. If the climate crisis were an iceberg, that would be the tip.
There’s a big part that we’re not seeing, and it might just be the most important: at the foundation of our sustainable behaviors, there’s a mindset that motivates us. It’s the root source and primary driver of all of the concrete actions listed above, and it’s formed by our values, beliefs, and purpose.
Whether we like it or not, every one of us impacts the climate, and our action—or inaction—has consequences for humanity and the planet.
The first step is acknowledging this basic fact: We have an impact. The second step is to decide what we want that impact to be.
The current State of affairs
To understand our role and what we can do in the face of the current crisis, we need to understand it first.
Our relationship with nature has been redefined in the last century, becoming increasingly distant and narrow. As humans, too often, we see nature as something to control, exploit or dominate. We take, we make, and we dispose of.
Global warming and biodiversity loss are clear examples of this corrosive relationship we have developed with nature. We live in a world where deforestation, extinction, overexploitation, habitat loss, and pollution have become some commonly used concepts. If heating continues, it will have a terrible impact on the planet, causing even more devastation and loss.
Human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning such as coal, oil, and gas, are producing increasingly more greenhouse gasses (the kind of gasses that trap heat in the atmosphere). Because of that, so much heat is being kept inside the “greenhouse” that temperatures are rising faster than they have in tens of millions of years.
Climate change refers to the increasing changes in climate measures over a long period and the effects it has on our planet—including precipitation, temperature, rising sea levels, shrinking mountain glaciers, accelerating ice melt, etc.
To fix this, we need a new relationship with nature that’s based on care and respect. We also need to acknowledge that by taking care of it, we are taking care of ourselves.
Looking at a brighter future
Over the last decades, humans have worked hard to develop new solutions to the climate crisis. As a result, new tools, methods, and processes have emerged to measure and solve environmental and social issues, achieving a sustainable society.
At the center of this is what we call Sustainability 2.0, based on developing a bio-economy, a resilient, circular, decarbonized, and sustainable economy at the service of people, the planet, and progress, that will be achieved through the 2030 and 2050 targets. These aim for a future free from the worst effects of climate change and one in which, after just 15 years, poverty and hunger have been eradicated.
So, what’s our role in the face of these defiant goals?
That’s for each one of us to decide. One thing is clear, despite what you may have read or listened to regarding the limited impact we can have as individuals, what you do matters. Individual choices matter.
Jonathan Foley, world-renowned environmental scientist, sustainability expert, author, and public speaker, says that “about a third of the climate solutions we need are going to be led by individual decision making”.
It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of this challenge, yet many of us feel compelled to be part of the solution.
So, where do we start? How can we make sure we create a positive impact? How do we tap into the power of a community and create systemic change?
We should keep this in mind: The fundamental aim is progress. We shouldn’t be stopped by the quest for perfection because it doesn’t exist. Perfection is the enemy of the good, and it can only lead us to frustration.
This is the reason Alterleap exists: to help you develop the mindset and skills to become your very best version, with access to our top expertise and supported by our shameless community made of determined, caring and thoughtful women