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Let’s Do Better. Let’s Do More.
Reversing Climate Change, Improving Global Health and Ending Poverty Require More From Us
You are not doing it wrong. Neither is the other guy. Nor am I. But we can all do better.
The dual global crises we’re facing, the pandemic and climate change, are already devasting more people than we can count.
Fires in California and elsewhere out West are wreaking havoc on communities, releasing massive quantities of carbon and issuing toxic plumes of smoke stretching halfway around the Earth. Hurricanes have struck eastern states with shocking ferocity and extreme flooding. The connection to climate change is now indisputable.
COVID has killed as many people in the US as the 1918 pandemic (which actually lasted about three years). Most of us feel like we’re just done with covid. We’ve had it up to here with masks, social distancing, avoiding large groups and getting shots. But covid isn’t done with us.
These twin problems are pushing more people around the world into poverty, reversing decades-long trends showing that people were rising out of poverty. Thus, there is an urgent need for people and organizations working directly on relief and recovery for people thrust into or stuck in poverty.
At the same time, we can’t let up on work to reverse climate change. Once we reach a global carbon-neutral level, the planet will continue warming for a decade. The climate-related problems of fires, storms and flooding will continue to get worse until the planet begins cooling. Serious conversations about goals are focused on carbon neutrality in 2045 or 2050, making that window appear to be the best we can realistically hope for. Things are going to get much worse before they get better so there is no time to waste.
Meanwhile, even as people are frustrated by pandemic precautions, covid shows few signs of letting up. No longer a 2020 phenomenon, it isn’t clear how long it will last. While vaccines are the most powerful tool for protecting populations and individuals both, breakthrough cases are well documented, and a few vaccinated people have even died. We need innovative solutions, strong leaders and compliant publics to help us overcome covid.
The problems we face are huge and difficult. They sometimes feel insurmountable. As I visit with changemakers around the world I find confidence that all the challenges confronting us can be solved. It will require all of us to do better, to do more.
Of course, we’ll need to model the best practices and continue to innovate new solutions to these problems. We’ll also need to accelerate, expand and increase the work we’ve already been doing.
One fundamental challenge we’ll face is within ourselves. We need to increase our tenacity, perseverance and optimism. We cannot meaningfully innovate without believing there must be a better way. We cannot continue the difficult work we face without the stick-to-it-iveness manifested by the most tenacious among us.
In other words, changing the world starts with changing ourselves, building on our core strengths to allow us to do more than we ever believed we could. This is not about personal ambition. It is about saving the planet and the billions of people who live on it.