The Seattle Public Library’s Microsoft room is steep amphitheater hidden between stacks, the children’s section and escalators. Tonight Sustainable Seattle and Bainbridge Graduate Institute hosted a talk “The Business Case for Gross National Happiness” with Hunter Lovins, the co-author of Natural Capitalism.
She started her talk with the dreary facts of our planet’s decline: ecosystems, biodiversity, oceans – all are close to collapse. Limits to Growth, that seminal book published in the ‘70s by Donella, Dana Meadows and others that forecasted the demise of people and the planet forecasted that by 2020, we would be exactly where we are, and by 2030, things would not look so good. Today scientists say that if we do not reduce carbon emissions by 2017, we can expect temperatures to increase by six degree. Last fall, I was at the Balaton Group, the annual conference begun 30 years ago by Donella Meadows to turn trends around. I helped with the filming of a documentary of core long time members in celebration. One question I asked each of them was what their message to the future would be. The answer from each was “I’m sorry.”
Its true that 40 years ago we could have taken small steps to change things. Its true that today we need radical change. It’s also true that these changes are probably not going to happen without the trigger of radical catastrophes.
Hunter called on businesses as the agent of world change. She looks to the green economy for job creation, as a cure for poverty. She spoke about how Unilever has stopped quarterly reporting, seeing the short term as a driver of economic collapse. Germany aimed to be fueled by 100% renewable energy by 2050 but is turning around in a chase for economic growth. Gross Domestic Product is trumping our survival instinct.
What we need to be thinking about is each other and our mother earth, not our own pocket books. Nelson Mandela said “poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.” This is true not just about poverty of humans, but poverty of the spirit and poverty of the soil, air, and water.
After Hunter’s talk I joined a panel to speak about the work we are doing to carry out a global happiness and wellbeing movement.
Buckminster Fuller said “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” The heart is a lonely hunter. It seeks ways to create the future we want. A future where we are happy.
Posted by Laura Musikanski, ED of HI