13 minutes | Oct 13th 2020

141: A Purpose Worth Living For In A Post Pandemic World

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This week I want to make a change to our usual interview format. 

Instead, I want to talk about the issue of climate change. Whatever your perspective on the causes few will deny that dramatic and potentially irreversible changes are occurring that threaten humanity’s existence on the planet. 

We're now well into the fourth quarter of this tumultuous year. With news around our tiny unseen enemy still in abundance, and as we focus on addressing the immediate Covid-19 pandemic, we must not lose sight of the more significant existential threat: our climate crisis. 

The urgency to build on the much-cited 'We're all in this together' sentiment cannot be overstated. If we are to avert a climate collapse, now is the time to start a new contagion, one that spreads a radical and positive change in consumer and corporate behaviors. 

Behavior change is hard, but we should take inspiration from positive societal shifts that have emerged in recent months:

  1. Covid-19 and our sheltering in place demonstrate that most people can, individually and collectively, on a global scale, radically change our way of life, sacrificing what once seemed sacrosanct. 
  2. The collective spirit of resistance and rage, ignited by the death of George Floyd and spate of other racial injustices, demonstrates the power of people to unite and confront the status quo. 
  3. The rapid collective action by some corporations, businesses, and brands in changing their marketing, operations, and supply chains to battle the pandemic prove business can be on the right side of race history. 

However, Covid-19 has not only exposed the deep and systemic social, economic, educational, racial, and technological inequity; it's also directly impacted our progress to achieve the UN's seventeen sustainable development goals (SDG's). As UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently stated

"As Member States recognized at the SDG Summit held last September, global efforts to date have been insufficient to deliver the change we need, jeopardizing the Agenda's promise to current and future generations. Now, due to COVID-19, unprecedented health, economic, and social crisis is threatening lives and livelihoods, making the achievement of Goals even more challenging."

The climate target adopted at the 2015 Paris Agreement was to keep global temperature rise this century to less than 2 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels, but set a 2030 target to limit the rise to +1.5°C.

While Covid-19 may have paused the global economy, it's estimated to only reduce 2020 Carbon emissions by 6%, significantly below the required 50% annual reduction we need in this coming decade to avoid a climate abyss - the point at which there may be no way back. 

So what if we consider Covid-19 a wake up call to our global fragility, a kickstarter to elicit unified action to avoid climate calamity. With 2019 being the second warmest year on record, coming at the end of the warmest decade on record, we are currently "way off track meeting either the 1.5°C or 2°C targets", according to Guterres. 

With the world's average surface temperature projected to surpass 3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, our children, and their children will experience melting ice caps, rising sea levels, flooded coastal capitals, mass migration north, food and water shortages, and mass social unrest, economic breakdown, and war. 

We have a simple choice. To act or not to act. 

As individuals, if we choose to act, we can start living more sustainable lives. As consumers, employees, or investors, we have the leverage to demand accelerated action from the corporations and brands that form the fabric of the carbon...  

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