Climate change has an upside. It’s the prime force in the perfect storm that will transform our world. The recent economic turmoil also has an upside. Climate change and economic turmoil are forcing us to choose, and choose wisely, if we want to preserve our species and our planet.

The Time Is Right

A “perfect storm “of events has landed us at a very positive point in our history. If we make the right choices, and there’s good reason to believe we will, we will see the dawning of a new age. This new age is the one being imagined by John Lenon when he wrote “Imagine.” It’s the one being dreamed of by Martin Luther King, when he said, “I have a dream.” We will have achieved a culture where humans live in harmony with one another, and with all of nature.

What are these events? There are three powerful forces, two pushing, and the third pulling, all to the same place. The forces doing the pushing are climate change and economic instability. The force doing the pulling is the desire to achieve a freer, happier, and more productive life for ourselves and others.

What is this place? It’s a crossroads, where we must choose one of two paths. The path we choose will determine the fate of our species and our planet. To understand why, we need to understand climate change, the prime force that is pushing us to the crossroads. And to understand climate change, we need to understand ecological overshoot.

Ecological overshoot occurs when humanity’s demand on nature exceeds the biosphere’s supply, or regenerative capacity. It leads to a depletion of Earth’s life supporting natural capital and a build up of waste. Overshoot is destroying biodiversity. Planet Earth is entering an era of mass extinction predicted to be the most devastating since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. But this time around, says Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction, it’s humans that are causing it. Overshoot is also the leading cause of climate change, arguably the most important challenge of our time. Since the 1970s, humanity’s annual demand on the natural world has exceeded what the Earth can renew in a year. Humans now use the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use, and absorb our waste. If present trends continue, ecological overshoot is expected to increase, so that by mid-century we’ll need the equivalent of two planets to meet annual demand!

The Perfect Storm

This diagram depicts the perfect storm … the push-pull forces propelling us to a new era.

  • Climate change and economic instability are the pushers.
  • The desire to achieve freer, happier, and more productive lives is supplying the pulling power.

The Perfect Storm

Sciences to Support the New Era

There’s more good news! There are sciences that can help us achieve a revolutionary new way of living.

Positive Psychology

Authentic Happiness Map

The Authentic Happiness Map depicts core themes of positive psychology and their relationships one to the other. It shows three “routes,” all starting at Mindfulness and ending at Happiness. The three routes are color-coded: teal, purple, and gold.

Much of psychology has deep roots in philosophy, and positive psychology is no exception. I’ll cite a few examples. Aristotle believed happiness, or eudemonia (“human flourishing”) is constituted by rational activity in accordance with virtue over a complete life. John Stuart Mill, (1806 -1873) was a key proponent of utilitarianism philosophy, which holds to the belief that moral actions are those that maximize happiness for the most number of people. Thomas Jefferson and other proponents of democracy believed “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are inalienable rights.

Positive psychology emerged at the beginning of the new millennium as a movement within psychology and was aimed at enhancing human strengths and optimal human functioning. It was officially launched in 1998 when Martin Seligman chose it as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association. Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi were the co-editors of the millennial issue of the American Psychologist, an issue devoted entirely to the topic of positive psychology. In their introduction, they state, “We predict that positive psychology in this new century will come to understand and build those factors that allow individuals, communities, and societies to flourish.”

Here is a description of the domain of positive psychology, from the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania:

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.

Published on Aug 25, 2012

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The New Economics

Some would have us believe that consumerism is the only way to fuel an economy. False! In fact, in order to meet the ecological challenges we now face, we simply cannot continue to consume at today’s alarming rates. The New Economics plays a crucial role in sustainable development.

The Upside of Climate Change

Organizations around the world are working to advance a transition to this new economy. One such organization is the New Economics Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their stated mission:  “The mission of the New Economics Institute is to build a New Economy that prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet.”

Another organization, The International Institute for Sustainable Development, has an excellent website. In this video “IISD Associate Mark Anielski spells out the pitfalls of relying on gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of societal wealth. Anielski, an Edmonton-based economist, says that we need to measure the things that matter most to us to really understand how we’re doing. And by establishing a true national balance sheet and redefining progress, we can achieve greater well-being.” This is very worthwhile viewing. What Mark has to say is not only fascinating, but also (at least in my opinion) makes perfect sense.

Samuel Alexander has written extensively on what he calls “The Sufficiency Economy,” “Enough, For Everyone, Forever.” Check out his essay: The Sufficiency Economy: Envisioning a Prosperous Way Down.

Thomas Piketty is Professor of Economics at the Paris School of Economics. He is the author of numerous articles and of a dozen books, most notably Capital in the Twenty-First Century . He has done major historical and theoretical work on the interplay between economic development and the distribution of income and wealth. These works have led to radically question the optimistic relationship between development and inequality posited by Simon Kuznets, and to emphasize the role of political and fiscal institutions in the historical evolution of income and wealth distribution.

It seems safe to say that Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the magnum opus of the French economist Thomas Piketty, will be the most important economics book of the year—and maybe of the decade. Piketty, arguably the world’s leading expert on income and wealth inequality, does more than document the growing concentration of income in the hands of a small economic elite. He also makes a powerful case that we’re on the way back to ‘patrimonial capitalism,’ in which the commanding heights of the economy are dominated not just by wealth, but also by inherited wealth, in which birth matters more than effort and talent. — (Paul Krugman New York Times 2014-03-23)

So the three men — Mark Anielski, Samuel Alexander, and Thomas Piketty — share some common ideas about an alternative economic system. These ideas are indeed exhilarating!

Environmental Science

Environmental science is a multidisciplinary academic field that integrates physical, biological and information sciences … to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems. … Today it provides an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems.

We look to this science for solutions to climate change. According to the United Nations and Climate Change website, “there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.”

Signs of Change, Harbingers of Hope

Voluntary Simplicity

An increasing number of people are embracing voluntary simplicity, or simple living.

How many people? Well, that’s difficult to say. But just consider terms that are now commonplace in our culture …   decluttering, downsizing, the tiny house movement, etc. I just Googled “simple living,” and got “about 114,000,000 results.”

New Ways to Support Ourselves

As the economy slumps, and as people look for more meaning in their work, they are finding some creative ways to make money. Lyle, who blogs at The Joy of Simple, is a great example. Lyle  “was not happy with “working  a typical 9 to 5 job so I could impulse buy and rack up a large credit balance.” These days he is following his own journey, supporting himself by doing a variety of jobs that are aligned with his passions. He readily admits to doing the “side hustle.”

Many Kindness Organizations and Movements

World Kindness Movement and Day

The idea behind the World Kindness Movement (WKM) crystallized at a conference in Tokyo in 1997 when the Small Kindness Movement of Japan brought together like-minded kindness movements from around the world. The WKM was officially launched in Singapore on 18 November 2000 at the 3rd WKM Conference. The mission of the WKM is to inspire individuals towards greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world. The WKM encourages individuals of other nations to set up their own kindness movements. It is also seeking other kindness movements to join the WKM. ― World Kindness Movement

The Upside of Climate Change World Kindness Day is celebrated annually on the thirteenth of November. The first World Kindness Day was November 13, 1998. This was the opening day of the first World Kindness Movement® conference held at Tokyo; it was also the 35th anniversary of the Small Kindness Movement of Japan, which was the forerunner of the WKM.

The purpose of World Kindness Day is to look beyond ourselves, beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion; and realize we are citizens of the world. As world citizens we have a commonality, and must realize that if progress is to be made in human relations and endeavors, if we are to achieve the goal of peaceful coexistence, we must focus on what we have in common. ― Australian Kindness Movement

National Hugging Day TM January 21st

This is the Official Site for NATIONAL HUGGING DAYTM which has become an internationally recognized observation that embraces hugging.  While some encourage hugging everyone, National Hugging Day always suggests asking first.  First published in Chase’s Annual Events in 1986, it has grown enormously in worldwide popularity leading many to suggest changing the name from “National” to “International.” A sample of locales include the United States of America, Canada, Germany, Bulgaria, Guam, Australia,  Georgia (the country), England, and Russia.

Visit and Like their Facebook Page: National Hugging Day tm – January 21st
Twitter:  Follow them @hugambassador


The Upside of Climate Change

Photo from Matthew Bishop’s LinkedIn influencer post on December 2, 2013

If you use social media, you probably have heard of the #Selfie. It won the 2013 Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year award. We can thank Matthew Bishop for inventing its opposite, the “unselfie.” Bishop’s post, published on December 2, 2013, suggests: “To mark this #givingtuesday, anyone who wants to celebrate the powerful positive role that giving plays in our world is being asked to share their own unselfie on their favourite social media sites and by email.” We have now celebrated two occurrences of  giving Tuesday.

The unselfie concept has turned into a movement!

WE ARE CHANGERS is a movement to get thinking about what it might feel like to be another person. To see life from another’s perspective. Because when we take into consideration how another person feels, even for a split-second before acting or reacting to something, the world is that much better of a place.

The Upside of Climate Change

Museum next to the Coca-Cola Factory, connected by kids playing in a field between them–reminds me of the balance of serious issues and fun. Natalie Elyse (Age 16) Atlanta, Georgia

The unselfie above is one of many posted on the WE ARE CHANGERS UNSELFIES page.

Pay It Forward

“Pay It Forward” refers to the concept of asking the beneficiary of a good deed to repay it to others instead of to the original benefactor. This wonderful idea was popularized by Catherine Ryan Hyde’s international sensation, Pay It Forward.

Pay It Forward is also an American drama film based on the novel.  It was directed by Mimi Leder and written by Leslie Dixon; the cast includes Haley Joel Osment, Kevin Spacey, and Helen Hunt.

You may be inspired to join the Pay It Forward Foundation.

The Love On Revolution

The Love On Revolution is the FIRST global social experiment that tracks your ripple effect when you Pay It Forward. It’s quite new; it began this month (January, 2015).

Sign Up Online to Start!
Twitter: Follow them @LoveOnNation


The Upside of Climate Change

The Updide of Climate Change

The upside of climate change is nothing short of a new era for mankind and the planet we share.

  • Joy @ Joyfully Green

    Wow, Carol–I feel like there are the makings of a good book in here! I love that you found an upside to something which puts so many people off as a total downer (and therefore, they just turn away and do nothing). I also love your references–that “Happy & Well” site is wonderful and I look forward to exploring it further.
    Many thanks!

    • Hello Joy, Thanks for your kind compliments. I truly enjoyed writing this one, so I’m delighted that you found it to be worthwhile. I agree with you that unless we have hope, we are left with despair and despair means inaction.
      Wishing you well, Carol

  • TheEcoGrandma

    Carol, I would love to be as positive as you are about climate change but I just can’t. Online I can find plenty of stories and people who are doing all the right things and have traded consumerism for happiness but locally what I see are full WalMarts, overflowing garbage cans each week, and a general disregard for the environment. Disposables are still king and gardens are no where to be seen in my neighborhood. If only I could see even one other person nearby who was making an effort it would help my positivity.

    • Hello Lois, Perhaps God has nudged you to your current home and community so that you could set an example for your neighbors. I know that you will, and that will help you feel more positive. Soon you will have the entire community loving you! Have you thought of starting a community garden?