James Stewart and Gloria Grahame as George Bailey and Violet Bick in the 1946 holiday classic , It’s a Wonderful Life
Happily, many of us just had a short break, a breather, a catnap away from the fretting and the struggling and the urgency and foreboding that comes with working on sustainability and wondering what it will take to power it down, to make the world safe.
We’ve all been hard at it, noses-to-grindstones, and engines revving dangerously high and a little rest and refreshment was certainly in order.
Now, as you rise and turn to your overcoats and galoshes once more, we urge you to take stock of your own impact, of what your contributions mean to the world and to us all.
How? Well, given the season, we suggest the George Bailey method: Consider what the world would be like if you had never been born.
Imagine our skies, our lands, our oceans. For all their challenges, would they be as healthy as they are if you — whether scientist, activist, legal expert, NGO, entrepreneur, writer, researcher, corporate head of responsibility, or consultant — were not here?
What if you’d never been born to fight the holes in the ozone over the Great Barrier Reef, or the fires raging there right now? Or to catalogue micro-and-nano plastics in all corners of our globe? What if you weren’t holding back commercial whaling and cetaceans were now just relics fastened together with hardware in museum rotundas?
How could we have held industry so accountable, created sustainable reporting standards, or fostered organic farming, without you? Who would advise businesses on how and why it is worthwhile to champion the environment, if not you? If you weren’t here to re-green our planet, we might all be living in a blighted Potter’s Field rather than in lovely Bedford Falls.
If you had stood beside George on that bridge above the Falls, and hadn’t been there to champion renewables, what then?
After all, activists before us were here to create the EPA, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Superfund, and many other critical institutions that have held back at least some of the tide. Without them, the air above Los Angeles and Houston and New York might be unbreathable today, instead of among the cleanest in the world.
Would there be seahorses and great white sharks and bald eagles back in the Hudson? We don’t have an angel to show us, but it’s not likely.
But you were there, and so the whales and eagles are here. The air above New York is clean. The oceans still have a fighting chance. Climate change, still in the balance, might just tip the right way.
In this extraordinary period for the race, you may, like George Bailey, feel your contributions aren’t enough, that in spite of your best efforts, things are regressing. No! No way.
We are at the nexus of two tipping points, one slipping deeper into climate change and its dramatic consequences, one an upswell of good works and powerful actions that might just keep us all above water, and below +2.0º C.
Perhaps, without your contributions to the planet and its people, we would already be tipped the wrong way.
In these times, and as this brief Holiday respite draws to its close, we hope you’ve relaxed. Taken a breath. Sipped some Champagne. Rested. You’ve earned that!
And so, we at Valutus wish you and yours a safe, happy Holiday season and a new year full of the knowledge that what you are doing matters.
Time to get those parkas and boots on. Time to square your shoulders and put them, once again, to sustainability’s plow.
We need you.
The Value of Values