Monday 16 September 2013

Planetary sustainability

Last week I explored examples of people in business doing the right thing when anonymity was lost and empathy was felt for another person. In another blog I also discussed the impact of the hard wired desire for self preservation that sometimes supports wrong, rather than right, doing.

If right doing isn't always a given, especially when in the context of corporate social responsbility, a subsequent blog started to explore how an organisation's cultural web might be used to increase the likelihood of support for right doing.

Today I'd like to think a little more widely - about planetary sustainability!!

It's not going to be a blog with facts and figures that prove or disprove global warming, nor will it discuss how many planets full of resources we need to sustain the current population. I'll leave that to others.

What I'd like to do is continue the conversation and exploration from recent blogs. That is if right doing comes from empathy and/or the threat to personal survival then what does that mean when we're wanting people to seriously act in ways that support planetary sustainability?

Threat to your personal survival
You'd like to think that a link between the current state of the planet and our personal survival could be easily made. 

Many do see the link and do act believing their personal survival is at stake. Many, however, do not, and get annoyed with those on their 'the end of the world is nigh' soap boxes. The evidence may be there but its not easily digested and the impact is still seen as too far away to inspire change in many of the population. 

I don't wish to suggest its not a great strategy, and wholly support the many organisations and people packaging the information and data in ways that hope to convince people of the threat to their personal survival.

I just think we're missing something otherwise why hasn't it worked and why are things seemingly getting worse?

Indigenous cultures had, and continue to have, empathy with nature and the planet. This empathy led them to relate to nature and the planet in ways very differently from how we do currently. 

If my hypothesis about empathy leading to right action is correct, then the solution to planetary sustainability isn't just more data and persuasion but more empathy for nature and the planet. It can't only be about logical persuasion of other's minds, it has to be about inspiring their hearts too and that will only come as they each individually find empathy with the planet.

Which then leads to the questions of: how do we get empathy for the planet? And how do we help others get empathy with the planet?

I'd love your views. Here are a few of mine to get us started on what I believe could be a very important solution to getting 'right action' with respect to the planet. 
  • Education that is about being with and in nature
  • Organisations connecting to nature 
  • More recreational pursuits that connect to nature
  • Games, books and apps that connect to nature (not sure I mean FarmVille but am open to be persuaded that it does facilitate more empathy for nature and the planet)
  • Using nature as our teacher - I'm a practitioner of landscaping your life which is a profound tool because, I believe, of its link to nature 
As you can see not an exhaustive list and one I'd love your input to.

Over coming weeks and months I look forward to exploring further with you this hypothesis and solution.

Alison Smith
Inspiring change in purchasing - inside and out

Picture courtesy of Pixabay 

1 comment:

  1. I happen to be reading Dan Pink's 'To Sell Is Human' and he describes a study that sought to understand why people didn't plan for their futures financially. The reason is that people don't think of their future selves as themselves. They are 'other people' - and I think we as a species have a similar attitude to our collective future selves.