In 1962 a forceful little book, Silent Spring, awoke a sleeping world to the hidden dangers of pesticides and chemical pollution. This kicked off a string of events which culminated in the birth of the modern environmental movement in the 1970s. On April 22, 1970 the first Earth Day drew an astonishing 20 million people into demonstrations and a call for action. Finally, in 1972 the global environmental sustainability problem was conclusively identified by the international bestseller Limits to Growth. This was clearly a problem that required immediate action now to avoid catastrophe later.
But yet today, over thirty years later, the problem remains unsolved. Why, despite countless attempts by millions of environmentalists, have we been unable to overcome the mountain of change resistance to solving the problem?
In systems thinking terms, the system is deadlocked. It is fiercely resisting change. No matter how hard environmentalists try to solve the sustainability problem, the system pushes back just as hard, and even harder, because the problem is getting worse. On the surface the deadlock is caused by environmentalists thinking long term while the opposition is thinking short term. But what is the deeper underlying cause of the deadlock? What is the root cause?
Answering that question demands an analytical approach. There is no other way. This is the path Thwink.org has taken. The results to date are beginning to look encouraging because it appears there is a root cause, and, better yet, the problem is solvable.
The highlights of the analysis are presented in the essays below. Together they form a three part series on Breaking the Thirty Year Deadlock.
|1. Why Are We Unable to Solve the Problem?||2. The Return of the Virtuous Politician||3. An Irresistible Sustainable Business Model|
Why have we been unable to solve the sustainability problem? Analysis has found what appears to be the answer: the process does not fit the problem. This leads to the next question: How can we break the deadlock of change resistance and then solve the proper coupling problem?
Why are corruption and unsustainability the norm in politics instead of virtue and sustainability? A thoughtful analysis answers that question, identifies the root cause of change resistance, and shows there is a high leverage point in the political system that has never been tried. Pushing there would break the deadlock by causing The Return of the Virtuous Politician.
Presently the economic system is improperly coupled to the environment. Analysis shows this can be resolved by use of the right high leverage points and a new sustainable business model so attractive that the dominant agent on the planet, the modern corporation, cannot say no.
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