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Futurist — Emmy Award winning Filmmaker, Journalist, Writer — Technology, Culture, Environment
It’s probably more true than not that from a certain perspective, creating a Re-Brand, and/or launching campaigns requires an inordinate amount of time in the advance stages of group decision making, vendor relations, and creative development. It takes so much time, in fact, and demands uniqueness and vision to such a degree that most attempts fail.
That is one simple reason why Corporate Communications, Marketing, and PR are in despair, and why advertising works only with Mega-Budgets and support at the top.
But this is more a matter of a failure of imagination and inflexible thinking than anything intrinsic. It’s the rare corporation that can think, and act, and run, on its feet, in real time, and why systems-building and automated marketing get press.
So it’s imperative to flip that switch, upend the assumptions, revisit basic truths, and go forward with heart and passion, not stale ideas tried before. In fact, corporations depend on people and ideas in uncertain times. That’s why this post seeks to enlighten about what a wise person once said, “a good idea is not simply no longer having a bad idea.”
How about this for a “design assignment…”
The clients are multiple countries, on several continents. The ROI is in the billions. The campaign relies on expertise in various disciplines from the scientific to policy and social imperatives. The time frame is short, in fact it is now.
What would you do?. Taking advantage of new technologies in drag and drop HTML 5 sitebuilders like Squarespace, we used these simple tools to tell a story, no more no less. The story is Pure Water, Clean Soil, and Safe Shelter, 3 basic human needs.
In order to be seen and vetted on internationally, we re-visited technology underpinnings and re-framed the company’s capabilities as *IoW Internet of Water.
Having re-created the company, as deploying a series of networked devices and services on common, cloud provisioned, and field deployed TCP-IP networks, it goes without saying that as a result, the market itself had been re-defined.
It was a requirement the mission statement be visual, to be instantly “readable” no matter the language.
The three part structure tells about the basic relationships. The top level message defines IoW.
The mid level message defines technical structure and how it works.
The third level message defines key product and locations for product implementation.
Another message needed to be decided upon. It would be the message for people. It would be specifically developed for PowerPoint (pitch) and would apply equally to multiple countries and problems.
That message is the value proposition. Why separate when you can integrate? “Working Together We Will Build a Better World for Future Generations.” Why use one language when we need more than one?
This four part message may be dispersed across media.
Review processes had determined parameters for testing, available components, and opportunities.
Let the big picture speak for itself, keep the message consistent, and support that message with cognitive and emotional visual media.
Robert lundahl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Robert Lundahl & Associates may be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Robert-Lundahl-Associates-1339630122766140/, and on the web at http://planet-rla.com.
When I was a boy, growing up in Pasadena, California, we played and rode horses on lands and trails along the Arroyo Seco, translated as “Dry Stream,” roughly the location of the Rose Bowl. The Arroyo Seco was not always dry, floods roared out of the San Gabriel Mountains, down and beyond what is now Devils Gate Dam.
The Xaxaamonga, in their native language, are a band of the Tongva people of California. Their language belongs to the Uto-Aztecan family. Xaxaamonga was the name of the Chief, the tribe and the location, where the Rose Bowl now stands.
According to Wikipedia, “above Devil’s Gate, the rapids of the Arroyo Seco are positioned so that the falls make a beating, laughing sound. In Tongva traditional narratives, this is attributed to a wager made between the river and the coyote spirit.”
As Penn State and USC meet to play in the 2017 Rose Bowl, it is not forgotten by this writer upon what foundation the pageantry rests.
Tongva/Chumash Pictographs, Burro Flats
In 1769 the Sacred Expedition led by Fr. Junipero Serra began the process of establishing the mission system and initiating the Spanish colonization of Alta California. San Gabriel Archangel, the fourth mission of the twenty-one, was established in 1771.
In 1778, the mass conversions of the Indians began. As was to be the case in the rest of California under the mission system, contagious diseases of European origin took an enormous toll on the Tongva. Mission conditions were harsh, tedious, confining, unsanitary, confusing, and culturally alien. Population decline was rapid. Though this period of history is often characterized as romantic, it was an unmitigated disaster for California’s Native People.
When the Spanish era ended in the early 1820s, Mexico secularized the missions. And for the Tongva/Gabrieleño, this resulted in a massacre at Las Flores Canyon near the Rose Bowl itself, just at the top of Lake Street, a posh shopping district.
According to the eyewitness account of a Californian named Philippe Lugo, Mexican forces destroyed “the greater part of them.”
I was born in Pasadena on the 21st of December, a sacred day for the Tongva.
Anthropologist Al Knight has described the importance of the winter solstice to the local Chumash and related tribes as follows: “The entire local Native American Indian religious ritual cycle is centered on the moment of winter solstice. It’s like rolling together our Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s celebration in one event.
Condor Image, Burro Flats Pictograph
Perhaps the most detailed description of condor ceremony in southern California comes from the Panes (or bird) festival of the Luiseño. It was described by Friar Boscana of Mission San Juan Capistrano and by Friar Peyri of Mission San Luis Rey in the early 19th century.
Similar ceremonies were held by the Gabrieliño, Cahuilla, Kumeyaay and Cupeño (Kroeber 1907; 2002).” (http://www.tongvapeople.com/villages.html)
We lived in San Marino in what had been an ex-urban area called Chapman Woods, with a little creek, near the Tongva villages of Akuuranga and Alyeupkigna. For the most part, this is hidden history. California elementary curriculum mandates the teaching of Native history, but that history for me was sanitized, romanticized and for the most part irrelevant and inaccurate, context – free. The history of the Arroyo Seco, but a mile or two from my home was not mentioned.
“Who Are My People?,” (2014) (http://whoaremypeople.com) led me on a journey from my youth. Beginning as a rather innoculous “trip down memory lane” – from the Pasadena of my childhood – the film reaches a pitched catharsis in the desert.
Here, modern day Indigenous elders fight international corporations to preserve and protect a small part of what’s left.
In Southern California, complex, successful, and sustainable ways of life were long existing before the arrival of of the Spanish, Mexican, and American armies.
We have been lied to, the actual history covered up for small town boosterism (Rose Parade), and sports events, which had in the recent past, featured Indian mascots. Genocide is a word the 103, 000 fans won’t hear at halftime.
We should be outraged, but in reflection, should take the time now, knowing the event sequence outlined above, to self-educate further on the the life-ways and practices of the people brutally annihilated, and to engage in truth and reconciliation from a contemporary perspective, to honor and respect these native lands, and current-day descendants.
I visited Standing Rock in September of this year, paying a visit while front line Water Protectors challenged construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. They in turn became targets of TigerSwan, a paramilitary, mercenary security organization, spun off from the infamous Blackwater, deployed by Kelcey Warren’s Energy Transfer Partners.
My visit, more benign, consisted of checking in with the camps, purchasing drinks and juices for the Elders, Bison meat and Elk, a kitchen request for meat thus answered, Prayer Cloths and Tobacco in Bismarck.
Several memories and thoughts flood my senses as a result of the last three months.
Threats to Democracy
This is a fight about who controls the very destiny of our democracy, is it going to be big money, big extraction, or is it going to be “We the People?”
We can’t take it anymore. There’s a breaking point. If we’re not out here, willing to sacrifice to whatever level you’re willing to sacrifice, whether that’s jail or death, we’re willing to put it on the line because our children won’t have a homeland, if we fail.
-Chase Iron Eyes, Candidate for Congress, North Dakota
The Urgency of Protecting the Water
Earlier this month, a local landowner discovered an oil pipeline leaked into Ash Coulee creek. There’s no way to ascertain how long the pipeline had been spewing crude oil, as the monitoring system was unable to detect any issues.
Less than 200 miles away, Native Americans, activists, and veterans stand together to oppose a second project known as the North Dakota Access pipeline. Aside from the sovereign land dispute, many are concerned about the pipeline leaking into Lake Oahe, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s primary source of clean water. The lake flows into the Missouri river and is the primary drinking source for over 17 million.
-Charlie May, Salon
The End of the Indian Nations?
Native American reservations cover just 2 percent of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves.
Now, a group of advisors to President-elect Donald Trump on Native American issues wants to free those resources from what they call a suffocating federal bureaucracy that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands, two chairmen of the coalition told Reuters in exclusive interviews.
The group proposes to put those lands into private ownership – a politically explosive idea that could upend more than century of policy designed to preserve Indian tribes on U.S.-owned reservations, which are governed by tribal leaders as sovereign nations.
An image of unbreakable resolve speaks to me as I sit, warm, inside my home in California.
Germaine Tremmel, direct descendent of Sitting Bull and Founder of the Moccasin Telegraph Project, http://moccasintelegraph.world, visited the Front Lines at Standing Rock — in a blizzard — one day following the Army Corps of Engineers decision not to issue a permit for construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.
-Robert Lundahl, Journalist, Filmmaker
Gerie and Pat Brock teach the traditional ways of governance of the Lakota and Oceti Sakowin people, in support of the treaties signed by her ancestors, and the indigenous democratic traditions that influenced another, much younger nation, the United States of America. Your support for the Moccasin Telegraph Project is important for building bridges to a better and more equitable future.
Germaine Tremmel is an International Attorney and Lakota Chief.
PHOTO CREDIT: Young Protectors of the Water, John Clark-Dvorak
Video Interview Clip with LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Founder Sacred Stone Camp: https://vimeo.com/180059254
By Robert Lundahl
BREAKING: Reports Indicate Power/Services Cut off to Camp 6:11 P.M. PST AUG 23. North Dakota State Services Involved, According to Sources.
“We’ve always ‘Occupied the Prarie’ and We’re Not Going Anywhere,” -LaDonna Allard
In Occupying the Prairie: Tensions Rise as Tribes Move to Block a Pipeline by Jack Healy, New York Times, Aug. 23, 2016 we see and hear about Indians in paint on horseback, in “procession” out of their “tepee-dotted camp.”
What Jack Healy misses in his over-romanticized account is journalism. His is the version Wall Street wants to hear, cowboys (Energy Transfer Partners) vs. Indians in face paint — a classic “Western.”
While the almost 500 Nations of indigenous brothers and sisters (over 90 are represented in the Sacred Stones Camp) are proud of the heritage of their peoples, it’s important to keep the focus on today and why we all are here, on this land, the homeland of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a Sovereign Nation.
In fact, what we call the United States is really comprised of many Nations, it is a “united” Nations, of relationships formed by diplomacy.
The Greater Sioux Nation predates the United States, so as the newly minted USA acquired more territory, agreements were sought with the existing nations of the Plains and elsewhere. One such Treaty, the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851), matters now.
According to Hollywood, every story needs a conflict. And calling this a “conflict” plays into the hands and the wallets of those who would like to profit from the energy game at other people’s expense.
Healy does a disservice to both the Native Nations, and to the investors and companies in the energy field, who rely on good practices to make a profit. Good practices seem hard to come by in North Dakota right now.
Sacred Stone Camp was begun by the youth and by women, as a prayer. The prayer, is that the waters of the homelands of the Standing Rock Tribe and all the peoples of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires, or “Greater Sioux Nation,” remain pure. That includes the Missouri River and it’s tributaries, flowing into the Mississippi in the greatest river system within the continental boundaries of the United States.
With over 200 river crossings, the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline puts the drinking water supply of a large part of the country at risk. The prayer is to keep the waters pure for all tribal peoples and all Americans.
The Oceti Sakowin pray for the waters used by farmers in Iowa and Illinois, the water consumed by schoolchildren in South Dakota, Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
They pray for the millions of Americans get their drinking water from this system.
The thousands gathered on the lands of the Oceti Sakowin are Protectors not Protesters. Protecting our children, our elders and ancestors, the creatures, and the land and habitat and they depend on, the ones who cannot speak for themselves.
We here at Sacred Stone Camp wish the Army Corps had done their job in protecting federally administered lands, unceded Indian lands, and Tribal lands, relying on science and judgement in protecting Indian culture from construction and destruction. Whether by intention or omission, the Army Corps broke federal laws, and didn’t do their job.
The state didn’t do its job, overstepping jurisdictions and boundaries placing police barricades inside a Sovereign Nation’s borders, disrespecting treaties, conducting an illegal “occupation” in direct counterveillance to most of the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a document signed by 144 other nations and (later) endorsed by the United States of America and President Obama.
The Governor of North Dakota didn’t do his job, when instead of ensuring all parties get to the table on energy and environment, he let negative words and accusations cloud hearts and judgement, and threaten people.
Thousands of people from across North America have arrived on the Cannonball River to pray for our environment and our cultures together.
Join us if you feel it in your hearts to do so. We are calm here at Sacred Stone Camp; we are safe and in a safe place and hold the land in healing and prayer for everyone’s benefit.
Protect the environment from being “savaged” by speculators, carpetbagging Texas energy companies and lone wolf billionaires.
Don’t let them take our public, and our Native lands, and the resources they hold, the water we all depend on, for our future in a changing world and climate.
From Yankton, Sioux Elder, Pat Brock:
“More than 7 years ago, I was appointed by Chief Oliver Red Cloud of the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council, to continue my dad’s treaty work. A few months ago, I was appointed to the Elders Advisory Council for the Tribal Historical Preservation Office (THPO). This appointment has given me opportunity to go to, so far, the Black Hills Management Plan meeting and the Oceti Sakowin Power Project meeting, to witness, from our traditional form of governance view, and bring back and present to the People the information shared by the participants, including hand-outs. My appointment to continue my dad’s treaty work is now being visualized.
Because I was sent to the Oceti Sakowin Power Project, the screening of WHO ARE MY PEOPLE? is part of my report to our People. It is open to the public and FREE, FREE, FREE! According to our traditional form of governance, there will also be a Feed and discussion of the film how the FAST TRACK power project will affect our Inherent right to be Ihanktunwan Oyate from this day forward. Also the filmmaker will be available on SKYPE for the discussion of this documentary.”
Article and Photos by Robert Lundahl
There are many organizations that have created sustainability programs, and one common characteristic the early adopters share is a focus on “key indicators,” from water consumption, to energy use, and so on, down the line. While these “first generation” programs have successfully measured environmental progress on the ground, the sustainability department is often an accounting or risk management department in disguise.
As customers search for meaning in their lives, and that search supports “green” consumer choices, the bridge between the two, what a brand stands for, and it’s footprint on the planet, is still the road less traveled.
Sure, Ben and Jerry and others have made their cause their brand. But “You are what you eat,” as the old saying goes, as a business strategy, as a brand strategy, is ignored at a company’s peril in 2015.
This is an era where business values, measured as sustainability indicators, need to be communicated smartly, and well — simply put, because that’s what people care about.
The school age child who learns about disappearing lions, tigers, leopards, rhinos, coral reefs, orcas, birds, salmon, polar bears, and other species, water shortages, pollution, and rising global temperatures, may well become the owner of a computer, a car, may live in a city, dine out, purchase clothes, food, and home consumer goods, very shortly. And in that lapse of just a few years, the character and quality of life on Earth and the quality of our lives will change, on average, how should we say, not for the better. Nor for the easier.
The better educated that school child becomes, the more affluence they have access to, the more they will comprehend the world in which they live.
Now hospitality businesses like wineries, resorts, and restaurants will sometimes have a sustainability web page, or a video, perhaps not. But the name of the game in a universe of “all-in” social media, is customer engagement.
The sustainability department is now the company. Sustainability is the Branding of the 21st Century.
That’s easy to see, but the “fail” for most, comes with implementation. How do we tell the story? Is it a conversation that lives and breathes, because of its relevancy and interest? Is the story told across multiple platforms in a seamless manner, taking advantage of axioms like reach and frequency that advertising depends on? What about positioning, messaging, and targeting — how do we stack up against the competition and why, how do we frame or tell the story, and who specifically are we having a conversation with?
The tenets of traditional marketing, when applied to digital communications, cut through the clutter and claims, creating a simple and understandable approach that guides effective campaigns. But this new landscape, where we talk about people and our relationship to nature and natural systems, how we fit in, and how we work together — beautifully and cleverly — to extend the resources we have, seems new at first.
Techy, specific, a mix of science and art, technology and big ideas, design, health, habitat, agriculture, water and food/beverage, countless brands have taken their first steps, but we can do much better.
Words are important. When we discuss trees, do we conserve or save? What is an ecosystem? How do we learn as we enjoy? Most importantly how do we make 21st Century Branding work like nature itself, like an ecosystem of ideas and experiences.
It is as true in branding as it is in engineering. Objects are de-materializing. More software, less hardware. We make less things. We create more connections, conversations, tele-presence, and vision.
In a time of California’s perhaps unprecedented drought, and the radical transparency of the on-line space, negative stereotypes are seen for what they are.
Wine producers using dry farming techniques, and rainwater harvesting and cachement, stand tall amid uncertainty; they rise above the pre-existing conversations in the market and in the media, “Who gets the water and at what price?” And isn’t that, as one example, something to talk about? Positioning against market forces to differentiate the brand is a “natural.”
Sustainability, meet integrated communications.
As global concerns become institutionalized through language and programmatic expression, humans rely on definitions to describe beneficial practices and actions.
The concept of Sustainability as a definition originated with Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Prime Minister of Norway. In 1983, United Nations Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar invited Brundtland to establish and chair the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), AKA The Brundtland Commission. In the course of public hearings, the commission developed the broad political concept of sustainable development. The commission’s report, “Our Common Future,” described sustainable development as, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
As with most institutionalized definitions, an important consideration is who or what is doing the defining.
In this case, the United Nations sought to incorporate an environmental agenda into strategic planning and development goals. While “Our Common Future” signaled the beginning of the usage of specific terminology, i.e. “Sustainable Development,” later shortened in usage to “Sustainability,” it was not the beginning of the concept, or the recognition of the need to consider future planning from the standpoint of the natural sciences.
Fundamental to an understanding of the interrelationships of species and resources, food, water, and incorporating the presence of “pollution,” or substances originating outside a natural eco “system,” negatively impacting that system, is the term “carrying capacity.”
Carrying capacity is a concept that relates to the biological issue of scale.
It was originally applied to population environments that were simple, like the number of sheep or cattle that could be grazed on a parcel of land.
With regard to definitions we need to consider also the inputs or assumptions they carry. For example, carrying capacity related to non-adapted or imported/exotic species like cattle in North America, where the dominant native large herbivore was the Bison, represents a one dimensional construct or framework of understanding that mis-identifies the analysis. The carrying capacity of human mitigated environments is not necessarily relevant.
In this regard, carrying capacity is not simply a matter of scale, but of perception and practice, ideas, right or wrong.
Human factors aside, species studied with respect to carrying capacity exhibit two patterns, the sigmoid and peak phenomena.
Populations that increase rapidly while food and habitat are abundant, and then slow down as regulatory factors such as lower birth rate and reduced food availability come into play exhibit the sigmoid pattern. As the rate of population growth slows down to zero, the population reaches a fairly stable level. This pattern is referred to as K (for constant) selected species.
In the other pattern –– the peak phenomena, regulatory factors do not come into play. The population increases rapidly to the point where it exhausts the resources upon which it depends. At this point, the population collapses to a low level. When resources are replenished the population again increases; the process is then repeated. This is referred to as the “r-selected” species.
The concept of carrying capacity began to be applied to humans in the 1960s. It was realized that the consumption habits of humans are much more variable than other species. For this reason, it was thought to be more difficult to predict the carrying capacity for humans. This led to the implementation of the IPAT Equation. The IPAT Equation was one of the earlier attempts to describe the role of multiple factors in determining environmental degradation.
Here, environmental impact (I) may be expressed in terms of resource depletion or waste accumulation; population (P) refers to the size of the human population; affluence (A) refers to the level of consumption by that population; and technology (T) refers to the processes used to obtain resources and transform them into useful goods and wastes.
The big question for human civilization is whether we are a K or r-selected species; whether we will reach a stable level that can be sustained for an indefinite period; or whether we will grow to a peak and collapse.
“…carrying capacity is determined jointly by human choices and natural constraints. Consequently, the question, how many people can the Earth support, does not have a single numerical answer, now or ever. Human choices about the Earth’s human carrying capacity are constrained by facts of nature, which we understand poorly. So any estimates of human carrying capacity are only conditional on future human choices and natural events.”
-Joel Cohen. Human population growth and the carrying capacity concept. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 1994, 75: 141-157.
What humans choose to do is the biggest variable in climate change science.
Later this year, France will be hosting and presiding the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), otherwise known as “Paris 2015.”
COP21 is intended to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
Here Laurent Fabius, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, introduces the conference with a stark assessment, “We are the first generation to become aware of the problem and yet the last generation that can deal with it.”
“There is no Plan B for action, just as there is no Planet B.”
Climate change is not the only driver of sustainability, but if, as Fabius suggests, it is the most compelling one, for in his words the world will stand “face to face with its future,” humans also stand face to face with a problem of enormous complexity, far beyond IPAT’s limited assessment.
Layers of re-definition accumulate atop the originals. Brundtland’s key definition of Sustainable Development –– development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. has been (perhaps) conditioned through subsequent usage as including the addendum “not sustained growth.”
(Sustainable Measures, Developed by US EPA Office of Sustainable Ecosystems and Communities (OSEC), under a cooperative agreement with Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Copyright © 1998-2000 Maureen Hart. All rights reserved.)
But as with all definitions we must also consider whether any assumptions are valid as to accumulated knowledge or civic memory rather than simply taking account of new definitions as “random snapshots” of a multi-plicitous reality whose unity, progression, or cumulative utilization of language based agreements, content or semiotics cannot be assured.
As we look to the history of sustainable development or sustainability policy awareness, and therefore to the pre-definitional use of the word itself, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1960, defined goals as:
“…achieve the highest sustainable economic growth and employment and a rising standard of living in Member countries, while maintaining financial stability, and thus to contribute to the development of the world economy”
Here we question “meaning” in light of the language, comparing the OECD’s practical definition of “Sustainable,” in light of Brundtland’s. Can we assume Brundtland’s definition “builds on” OECD’s? OECD requires a “rising standard of living,” while Brundtland’s substitutes the term “development,” non-specific with regard to implications of financial “growth.” Finally, Sustainable Measures, in “on the ground training” for corporations and communities, further offers “redefinition” as “not sustained growth.” Such scholarly “cherry picking” does not indicate a social agreement, evolution of thinking, or pathway forward.
Are these variations reflective of continuing uncertainty regarding the balance of economy, society and environment (The Three Pillars of Sustainability)?
“The ‘Chief Sustainability Officer,’ sometimes known by other titles, is the corporate title of an executive position within a corporation that is in charge of the corporation’s “environmental” programs. Several companies have created such environmental manager positions in the 21st century to formalize their commitment to the environment.”
Measures like Corporate Sustainability programs, following a paradigm set by CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) models, report on efficiencies in key indicators. A different office may well handle policy, and “Vision” may originate with the CEO.
Finally, sustainability practices may be adopted sporadically, or implemented inconsistently within any organization or company.
The uniquely human adaptive strategy of recognizing reality isn’t necessarily what we say it is has manifested in community movements which avoid “top down” definitions of sustainability altogether.
In the case of the sponge, animals of the phylum Porifera, which lack a central nervous system, cells exchange information more readily and equally with one another. Strangely, proteins made by the sponge genes were found to interact with one another in ways similar to proteins in human synapses.
“Not only do they have [human synapse genes], they also have this signature that they may be functioning in a similar way in the absence of a nervous system, as they do in the presence of one,” says Todd Oakley, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).
One such human network, Alternatiba, seeks to mobilize society. Alternatiba events raise people’s awareness and stimulate behavior change. Events provide hundreds of alternatives in order to raise people’s awareness, and have been or will be organized in over sixty different French and European cities. Additionally, these initiatives aim to put pressure on politicians, especially with regard to the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
As society’s leaders, corporations, and citizens begin a process by which each can walk with the other, it becomes clear that corporate sustainability report cards and policy definitions, however helpful, fall short in uniting diverse communities creating real change in both indicators and behaviors.
What the human race has up its sleeve is values –– and the ability to communicate the values and benefits of working together. Computing the tonnage of GHGs not released into the atmosphere, miles not driven, trees conserved, and water not used, is, in itself a silo-ed approach. Net-zero is the only measurement of success on the environmental balance sheet.
The moral and ethical dimensions of sustainability are something else. Nothing is sustainable if humans are not sustainable with each other. In the higher echelons of public apparatus, the Pope, a Prince and a President have weighed in, along with the World Bank, leaders at the World Economic Forum, and organizers of Cop21, or Paris 2015.
“The pope’s attention to climate change …highlights the plight of the poor and the moral dimensions of environmental issues. It also comes as a welcome counterbalance to the fixation on global-scale human influence on the environment that, for better and for worse, has come to define the Anthropocene – the name attached to the age of human dominance over the planet. ”
(With Encyclical, Pope Francis Elevates Environmental Justice, Lisa Sideris, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Director IU Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics, and Society at Indiana University, Bloomington, The Conversation, June 15, 2015).
“[This is] an absolutely crucial opportunity, if not the last chance before we end up in an irreversible situation, for the international community to establish a new set of interlocking, coherent and ambitious frameworks governing human development, poverty, disaster risk reduction, the natural environment and climate change. We could, and should, see an agenda set for the coming decades that is capable of transforming the prospects for humanity by improving and nurturing the state of the planet upon which we all depend.”
(Quote from Prince Charles, Prince Charles: Global Pact on Climate Change Could be Magna Carta for Earth. Fiona Harvey, The Guardian. Monday, 26 January 2015).
“Today President Obama raised the bar with a stronger rule and by doing so he has sent a definite message and much overdue comprehensive acknowledgement that climate is a civil rights and moral issue as well as a health, economic, and environmental issue. Implementation of the rule must require states to conduct a compliance review under civil rights and environmental justice laws. This includes the President’s Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice and health, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Beyond climate change concerns, reductions in power plant pollutants will reduce environmental and public health problems, including acid deposition, fine particle air pollution, mercury deposition, nitrogen deposition, ozone smog, and regional haze. Thousands of premature deaths will be prevented each year. Hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks will be a shameful tragedy of the past. Today is a especially good day for communities of color suffering disproportionally from the effects of pollution.”
(AFC+A Statement on Clean Power Plan Rule –– President Obama Raises the Bar for Environmental Justice With Final Clean Power Plan That Lives Up to Climate of Hope. Americas for Conservation and the Arts, Irene Vilar, Founder & Director, AFC+A and ALEF, Guggenheim Fellow).
Only community involvement, to prevent disproportionate impacts in rural communities, communities of color, and economically disadvantaged communities can ensure a reasoned and democratic approach to climate change policy implementation. In this light, our ability to reach equitable, moral, or ethical solutions is yet another variable of the human condition and the human’s survivability potential, a potential based on future choices.