The leaders we need will have to overturn the kleptocracy and legal framework that enables the current model of unlimited individual enrichment to remain. Faced with man-children, obsessed with personal wealth, needy for attention their pet-projects provide them, and with governments responsive to the interests of the rich, what can be done?
Currently, many people feel powerless, believing all they can do is watch in horror as the world deteriorates, while the rich invest in planning their escape – to New Zealand or into space, aspiring to create their own version of Elysium. For Bezos, this is a vision of really pleasant places to live in space, for a million plus people.
Firstly, we need to accept that we can’t rely only on technology to save us, innovation isn’t the same as thinking deeply about the problems of our time. Building a ‘better’ rocket has zero public utility and provides exactly zero help to address our real problems. As a scientist by background, someone who has a PhD in particle physics, I acknowledge that climate change and biodiversity loss are not scientific problems waiting for technical solutions. They are issues of lack of governance enabling overexploitation. They are social, cultural and political problems, and, currently, there is too little political or societal will to change.
To stay the course, many will need to hold the tension between hope and despair. Only then can we sit in the discomfort of processing the thoughts, beliefs and behaviours that need to be changed or adopted if we want to successfully mitigate the problems we collectively face.