The power of people to change…By Paul Gilding

The following guest blog post is written by Paul Gilding, author of ‘The Great Disruption’, advisor and advocate for action on climate change and sustainability…

The idea behind the 1 Million Women campaign is really the idea that will ultimately stop climate change and get humanity onto a secure and safe future. It is the simple but powerful idea that “we can change” – that we are in charge and we get to decide what kind of future we want for our selves and our children.

My book The Great Disruption begins talking about how the environmental movement had really been initiated by a passionate woman scientist, Rachel Carson with her book Silent Spring and her campaign against excessive use of pesticides. She started a movement with the idea that we were part of nature, and therefore that a war against nature was a war against ourselves. Carson was a remarkable woman who decided we need to change.

When I did a speaking tour for the 1 Million Women campaign in 2011 around my book’s themes, I spoke to over 1,000 women at events Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. This tour left me again invigorated with the power of women to make a difference and the power of people to change.

I know that sometimes when we look at the challenges we face and the idea that we need to move away from our throwaway, consumption obsessed society the changes needed seem hard to imagine. But the reality is that change always seems hard to imagine before it happens. As a civilisation we regularly change our behaviour and our values – indeed such change defines human progress. We accept new norms and through a combination of cultural and legislative change and attitudes shift, we leave behind behaviours that seemed normal at the time but in hindsight seem unimaginable. These can range from system changes like apartheid and women’s rights to personal behaviours like smoking on planes, drink driving or wearing seat belts. Change is what we do and how we evolve.

So change will come and we will look back at today, when our society revolves around the pointless pursuit of more and more stuff and see it as a strange and primitive time!

We’ll do so because protecting the global environment demands it, but we’ll also do it because we will be happier as a result. We now all know, deep in our hearts, that the current model is broken. We know that all working harder in the pursuit of more money and things results in us having less time to do things that make us happy  – it just doesn’t work for us anymore. This shows in the research that describes how our life satisfaction hasn’t improved in recent decades despite enormous increases in material wealth.

I’m increasingly excited when I look around at what people are doing in their homes and their communities to make a different kind of future a reality. The great work of Natalie Isaacs and the team at the 1 Million Women campaign is not a lone example. The Buy Nothing New Month campaign, founded by another wonderful woman, Tamara DiMattina is a great example of learning how to build a strong economy while making our lives richer as I argued in this article in the Daily Telegraph.  I believe we are at the beginning of a social movement that will spread these ideas around the world, with other examples like Colin Beaven aka No Impact Man.

The final chapter of my book is titled “Guess Who’s in Charge”. The answer of course is we all are – that like the philosophy behind 1 Million Women argues, if we wait for someone else to change the world, well, we’ll be waiting for a long time. It really is up to us and it’s great that we’re now getting on with it.

Paul Gilding

About the author: Paul is an independent writer, advisor and advocate for action on climate change and sustainability. An activist and social entrepreneur for 35 years, his personal mission and purpose is to lead, inspire and motivate action globally on the transition of society and the economy to sustainability. He pursues this purpose across all sectors, working around the world with individuals, businesses, NGOs, entrepreneurs, academia and government.

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