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Facing An Inconvenient Truth Or Inconvenient Consequences
– 7 min –
For more than four decades, the wacky quiz show, Truth or Consequences, entertained generations on radio and television. The format was a setup: a contestant was given a convoluted question to answer and, before they could utter a word or two, a buzzer would sound—time’s up! Not having answered the truth, they faced the consequences, generally involving an embarrassing stunt.
In 2006, Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth was released. In it, he recounted how the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded levels not seen since before humans walked the earth. He showed how the radical increase in those levels since the Industrial Revolution pointed to our indisputable role in their rise. He spoke to the learned helplessness of so many people he’d encountered who moved from “It’s not happening” to “There’s nothing we can do about it,” with nary a pause nor action in between. The question for leaders and anyone committed to bringing value, goodness or beauty into the world is not whether we can avoid this inconvenient truth. It’s whether we’d prefer to lean into the truth to create a world we want or face the enormous suffering and disruption of its consequences.
Unlike in the quiz show, we’ve had 16 years and more to answer the difficult questions posed by climate change. In that time, we’ve learned about concerted campaigns from the fossil fuel industry to delay public awareness of the climate crisis. We’ve watched how those with great vested interests in paradigms of the past are able to invest in politicians who pull out of climate treaties, bury green-deal legislation and weaken the EPA. We’ve also made steps forward, such as increased use of renewable energy, promising technologies in carbon capture and more market-leading businesses adopting ESG criteria. Yet the planet continues to warm and species continue to perish.
Ginny Whitelaw, Author & CEO, Institute for Zen Leadership
A biophysicist and former senior manager for integrating NASA’s International Space Station, Dr. Whitelaw has trained leaders on the path of making a difference for more than 25 years, working with mind, body, energy and resonance through the Institute for Zen Leadership. Learn more »