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Sex, Sustainability and iPhones

By Ian Chambers - posted Friday, 22 June 2012

Many people around the world are concerned about the future of our planet, but don’t know where to start to do something about it. What sort of world are we going to be handing on to our kids: a bankrupt planet stripped of all its resources and biodiversity?

Most people agree we have a problem, but actually understanding what to do to address it appears daunting. And the challenges are not only multiple population growth, overuse of fresh water resources, depletion of biodiversity, reliance on non renewable energy resources, rising prices of food, climate disruptions, global finances, they are also interconnected. Saving lives through immunisation when there are inadequate food and support resources for an increasing population may solve one problem, but it in turn creates others.

So how do we go about tackling these challenges in a way that will allow us to leave a planet we can be proud of to our kids and future generations? Is there an approach that allows us to not only tackle the global challenges we are currently facing on the planet, but also to achieve a result we probably would all ascribe to a sustainable world. The solution lies in understanding Sex, Sustainability and iPhones.


So what has Sex go to do with it?

We need to start with understanding the key cause of the current challenges we are in. And, it is sex. Now sex is not a bad thing, however, our population on the planet has increased threefold, from two billion to over seven billion in 60 years, so one thing you could say is were getting very good at it, and there clearly has been a lot of it going on. And it’s now like all the relatives moving in, and then telling us they are going to stay. The place suddenly doesn’t appear big enough, the fridge starts to run low pretty quickly, the hot water runs out…we’ve all been there. Then they tell us there are more to come! It gets pretty clear this is not going to work in the long term.

And that is where we are on planet Earth at the moment. Our current situation is not going to work in the long run, and we are already seeing a run on the resources we have. So what can we do about it? The next step is to work out where we want to get to. What do we want to be when we ‘grow up’ on Planet Earth.

That’s where Sustainability comes in.

Most people agree we want to leave our kids a world that is fit to live in. A world that they and we can be proud to leave to the next generation: a sustainable world. But to work out how to get there, we first need to understand what this sustainable world will look like. The good news is a lot of work has been done on this in the Earth Charter, from which a simple vision of what this sustainable world should look like can be distilled. ‘A planet where there is respect for nature, observance of universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.’ It might not be perfect, but it gives us the general idea of where we want to be heading.

So we are now in a much better position than when we started. We have a good handle on where we are at the moment, and we have an idea where we want to get to. That’s a good position to be in for any journey. However, the obvious answer for how we are going to get from where we are now, to where we want to get to, is we need a good map. We can then work out the best way to get from A to B, and then set out on our journey. But where are we going to find one of those - and what has that got to do with iPhones?


How understanding iPhones can help.

If you went back to Apple in the mid 1990‘s (by now everyone knows who Apple is) they really were a basket case. According to Steve Jobs who came in as CEO, they didn’t know where they were going, what they were doing, and probably would have gone bankrupt in months had they not been able to turn things around. And turn things around they did, as Apple is now the largest and one of the most successful companies on the planet, all in less than 15 years. So could we do the same thing, could we ‘turn around’ planet Earth. Could we apply the same principles that helped Apple become one of the most successful companies in the world, to ‘turning around’ the predicament we are in at the moment on Planet Earth.

The answer is fortunately, yes, as if we look at the principles used by Apple to achieve success. From the brink of disaster we find they simply applied basis global business management principles to their situation. Principles we can easily adapt to our management of our planet.

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About the Author

Ian Chambers is the author of the book Plan for the Planet.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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