Inspiring Transition Founder Andrew Gaines believes hope for young people comes from a massive social transition to a life-sustaining society:
The daughters of friends of mine have learned about global warming an ocean acidification in school. Frightening stuff!
On current trends they will certainly experience traumatic societal breakdown as global food supplies unravel and ever more violence emerges. Many young people already experience acute despair, and some young women do not want to bring children into the world. It was like this when the threat of nuclear war was on everyone’s mind after World War II.
Despair destroys the spirit. What might possibly give young people realistic hope?
I think there is only one basis for realistic hope: Young people will have reason to hope when they see that society as a whole is passionately committed to reversing global warming and other trends, and successfully transitioning to a life-sustaining society.
How will they know that this commitment exists? Just as in wartime everyone speaks about the war, so people everywhere will be talking about transitioning to a life-sustaining society. Politicians will affirm this as our goal (rather than economic increase). They will justify policy decisions on the basis of their contribution to the transition to a life-sustaining society.
Both NGOs and businesses will frame their work as a contribution to transitioning to a life-sustaining society. The media will regularly report on improvements in environmental indicators (while noting how much more we have to do).
A profound cultural shift is required. We must become the kind of people who can create and enjoy a life-sustaining society. We will see more resources going into fostering personal creativity, inner well-being and community connection.
In time, CO2 levels will start to decline and environmental statistics improve. The mass media will report that we are making progress in transitioning to a life-sustaining society. At this point hope will seem realistic.
Ultimately, the test is: are we living within planetary boundaries? Have we evolved a society that takes care of people, communities and the environment?
How might we, personally, act to make hope realistic for young people? I suggest that the most useful thing we can do is to communicate through our networks to inspire mainstream commitment to transitioning to a life-sustaining society. Why? Because without mainstream commitment, the continuation of business as usual will take us to its predictable grim outcome. And, on the positive side, ‘transitioning to a life-sustaining society’ provides a positive goal for society that goes far beyond simply stopping bad stuff.
Obviously, to have much effect we must communicate on a massive scale.
The Great Transition Initiative, a project supported by Be The Change, is a support platform for such communication. The model to inspire as many individuals and groups as possible to act as citizen-educators/Great Transition Champions, and provide ready-to-use tools to make communicating as easy as possible.
We enable people to develop a mental framework for grasping the transformative changes necessary to reverse human inputs into global warming and other large-scale environmental issues. Having such a framework equips people mentally and emotionally to support leadership for transformative change when it arises, and to exert such leadership themselves within their sphere of influence.
The Great Transition Initiative materials are freely available on the Inspiring Transition website. They include sample emails, guerrilla marketing tactics and Kitchen Table Conversations. I would like to think that because you, too, care about the well-being of coming generations, you be willing to lend your influence to what is now humanity’s greatest project: successfully transitioning to a life-sustaining global civilization, rather than continuing on our present course of ecological self-destruction.
By Andrew Gaines
+61 2 8005-8382
Accelerating the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society!