“Paradigm shift” is perhaps the most frequently used and abused phrase in the English language. While public figures, corporate executives and others use this phrase frequently, the simple truth is most of the time we don’t make changes until it’s too late. As a species, we are a complete failure at learning from previous lessons and acting proactively to head off disaster. Instead, we choose to hang on, whether it’s to old business models, traditional fuel resources, and old economic policies simply because it is too hard, and too frightening, to embrace something new.

Because of high human population and resource consumption, the stress we are putting on our planet is unprecedented. We are basically consuming the planet, and the by-products of human activity are poisoning our environment and changing our climate. Scientific studies, ice-cap melting and other measurable data all show that this is a trend which has taken hold, and cannot be easily slowed and reversed. Even if we drastically changed our habits, and curtailed emissions, the trend would continue for some time because accumulated trends cannot be turned off easily like a tap of water. Instead, the effects of new more environmentally friendly policies will take decades even to begin to show results.

And yet, in spite of the depth of our environmental problems, there are many who choose to question the data models which lead us to our worst fears about the environment. The fact is that ice-cap melting is moving at a faster pace than most of the data models predicted, and most climatologists predict that the Arctic Sea will be ice-free in the summer months in 10 years. So what is the point of arguing about data models if nature tells us that the the worst predicted outcomes are too conservative?

At the same time, bankers and other commercial interests are seeking to commercialize green environmental efforts and products. The simple fact is that we will not be able to monetize green products and services in a sustainable manner in the near future on a sustained basis. Sure, we can create bubbles, but the bubbles are not sustainable. And aren’t bubbles such a big part of what got us into trouble in the first place when it comes to the global economy?

When it comes to sustainability, the simple fact is that we have stretched air, water, food and energy resources beyond the limit. There is nothing sustainable about the way we live now. Assuming that current populations do not change, we are all going to have live within a lower standard of living. If human population takes a drastic fall due to war, disease and/or famine, the survivors can live well without making sacrifices quite as large.

This is just for the environment and climate change. In future articles I plan to talk about how stubborn refusal to change leads to economic and business calamities.

Let’s change while we still can; while it can still make a difference. The old ways don’t work anymore.

I would like to thank Asian Correspondent for inviting me, as a contributor, to talk about important issues and Asia. Asia is the single most important region in the world today, and for those of us who live here, it is a place we all have strong feelings for. 

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