Consequence

By Saul Griffith

There is little evidence that we will solve the
environmental challenges of our time. Individuals
too readily allow responsibility for the solutions to
fall on larger entities like governments, rather than
themselves. I find one very significant reason for
hope amidst this largely hopeless topic. We are
learning to measure consequence. Galileo said
something akin to “measure what is measurable,
make measurable what is not.”  We are slowly gaining
expertise in measuring our impact in terms of carbon,
energy demand, water use, and toxicity production.

Why is this hopeful? Now that we can say
definitively that even the production of a soda bottle
has a measurable (if tiny) increase in greenhouse
gases, it’s hard for a thinking individual not to
acknowledge that they are working against the things
they say they want. After a century of isolating the
product or service from its resulting impact, the tide
is turning. We are making consequence visible. We
will witness the first generation who can truly know
the impact of everything they do on the ecological
support systems that surround them.

My hope is that we will use this knowledge wisely.
We will put aside old ideas of what is good and bad
for the environment and ourselves, and will
quantitatively make the changes we need with new
foresight.

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