Seven Billion Reasons to Pause
A week ago we added our seven billionth passenger to what Buckminster Fuller called “Spaceship Earth.” According to the media tracking of this event, this baby was most likely born in Asia and many cities and countries had celebrations honoring babies born on October 31, 2011.
Why is the number seven billion so important? I am not sure the number in and of itself is that relevant. What I think is important, is that this event gives us all an important reason to pause and take a look at what we have created. We have doubled the global population since 1960 and demographers are saying we will be at nine billion by 2045.
There are many great reasons for this growth:
- The dropping of infant mortality.
- The rising age of our average life span.
- Countries, historically resource poor, finding ways to create sustainable work and environments for all.
I was surprised to discover that we can easily fit seven billion people on the planet. According to National Geographic if we stood shoulder to shoulder all seven billion of us would fit within the city limits of Los Angeles, California. The space we take up is not the problem.
We cannot sustain the way resource rich countries measure and define success and wealth. If we continue to measure success and wealth by the current process, GDP – which emphases consumption and individual gains, then this Spaceship Earth will continue on its current trajectory. This will have us all off balance. Most research shows that we cannot sustain the levels of consumption and waste that we take as a given. We are already off balance and the scale will continue to tip towards greater inequality, loss of natural resources, energy crises, and other symptoms of a dying Spaceship.
If we truly treasure what we measure then it is time for us to put down the measuring of growth and consumption and look to other ways to create meaning, find opportunities and define success. Last month Shea Adelson challenged us to find other possibilities to define and claim wealth. This is a place we can start, not as an individual, or family, nor even as a nation. This is where all of us – all seven billion, need to begin.
It is time to pause and awaken. How do we do that? First, look at this as a thought experiment. If all of us could somehow put ourselves – all of our life, all we have, all we own, all possibilities that are available to us individually into a simple raffle ticket – would you be willing to put that raffle ticket in a bowl with the other seven billion and randomly draw out a new lot, a new life?
If the answer is no, then you see what work has to get done on a global scale.
There are now seven billion reasons to pause and reflect on a world transformed. What is available if seven billion of us embraced the truth of sufficiency? If we treasured interdependence, transparency, sharing and love, and then measured these in a profound way… What kind of world will the eight billionth person find when he or she arrives?
What actions are you willing to take now that would have you say yes, “I’ll take any seat on this ship?”