A Sustainable Shift
An editorial on creating social change one person at a time
Great change in modern human history is often marked by political grass roots movements. From the invention of democracy, to the end of institutional racism these great changes in human history were brought about by masses of individuals challenging the status quo. Whether you examine the end of slavery, equal rights for women, british occupation in India, or the American Civil Rights Act all events were marked by the great work of individuals who inspired others to follow. Eventually support grew to such levels that countries were shaken to their very core, sometimes violently, and reform was sent like a shockwave up the institutional ladder. Very rarely has great social change come from the top down, especially when it is unpopular or uncomfortable for industry.
The enviornment has also acted as a major instrument of change. Great environmental catastrophes have forced entire regions of the planet to respond immediately to dramatic planetary events. The tidal waves that swept through south east Asia and hurricane Katrina are a prime examples. Overnight the population of entire regions were displaced, and government functions within effected areas were crippled. Worldwide support was and still is needed to erase the social and economic damage caused by these disasters.
The shift towards sustainability and environmental recovery will be marked by these two forces. It seems very unlikely that governments around the world will institute the reforms needed to reverse the current trends of environmental devastation. Developing nations especially have a lot to loose as their entire economic growth policies are polar opposites of sustainable models. The government is not going to save human existence on this planet.
Running in parallel to this national inaction are the effects of global warming, which according to new research will begin manifesting themselves in potentially disastrous proportions by the end of the century (Associated Press 3/1/09). Entire nations will be wiped of the map by rising sea levels, costal populations worldwide will be displaced, and catastrophic storms will rage at a frequency never before seen. A global recovery will be needed which will require at least in part a worldwide shift towards sustainable economic models and consumption patterns.
Human inspiration and leadership on an individual scale are the only cures for the looming environmental disasters of global warming. The combined efforts of each and every individual participating in sustainability can create a global change without government reform, environmental protection laws, or war. The power to change the world lies in each and every individual willing to change it.