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  • gordon hilbun

Small Decisions Matter part 1

How did we get here? How did we get to a climate crisis that is potentially the greatest threat to our species that paradoxically our species is responsible for? Let’s start with those questions and focus on the pronouns because that’s where we find the who that created the problem can be the who that solves the problem. The who is me, you, our family, our friends, and all the way to the industrial and governmental systems that support our way of life.

For this discussion, we’re going to focus on the you (and me) part of the we since there is much that you can do in how we solve this climate crisis, not for the present we, but for the next we that follows us over the next century and beyond. What got us here is the same what that will solve this problem, individual decisions. How do individual decisions matter for a global problem is the basis of the tragedy of the commons that industrialization has rocket-boosted over the last 150 years. An example of how every decision you make when aggregated across the Sapien diaspora has an impact consider that in total humans drive a motor vehicle roughly 5.7 trillion miles a year, that’s 11,000 round trips to Mars or one light year to put it in context. Hopefully, we can agree that when 7+billion (and growing) humans are rowing in the same direction we can get stuff done.

With that context in mind, let’s look at the impact of the average human on our environment, and for argument's sake, we’ll use the most resource-intensive breed of Sapiens as our example, the American (of which I am one). On an annual basis, the average American is responsible for 20+ metric tons of CO2, 185 lbs of plastic waste, and 365 lbs of food waste. Now that we’ve defined our contribution to the whale of a problem we’ll start the address the issue the only way the individual can snack on a whale, one small bite (i.e., individual decision) at a time.

Which gets us to the point of this discussion, how we make our decisions. A fundamental driver of every decision, at all levels, is prioritization. When we make a decision, we inevitably prioritize values to make that decision, and these priorities can be boiled down to costs (e.g., time, money, preferences). Currently, our cost calculations are defined for us (e.g., money) or by us (e.g., time and preferences). However, other hidden costs (i.e., negative externalities, specifically environmental impact) are not defined for us and due to our limitations as Sapiens for long term risk assessment not well defined by us. So our ask of you with this initial discussion is a simple one, realize that your decisions matter and that your priorities determine your decision. So as you make your daily decision, add the environmental cost to your prioritization, and assess if it helps change your decision. For example, do I need that plastic straw or do I really need to overstock on perishable food? You will find that costs defined for you and by you become more aligned and that your small decisions become small solutions to really big problems....


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