Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Longer View on Change

How long change does take! With starry eyes way back when Canada and I were younger, I envisioned progress as a given. My mother, Margie, a fighter for all things unfair, had infused me with hope and possibilities. Surely the only way was up. But not so fast!

Well, on the whole, we are making progress: more democracies worldwide, more educated women in developed countries, many communicable diseases long gone, lower crimes rates, an acceptance that we have something to do with global warming, an African-American U.S. President and growing cross-cultural understanding everywhere. Much to celebrate.

But, wait. In developed countries, although women outnumber men in university, men still are the majority in leadership positions and hold most of the wealth, as Michael Adams, President of Environics reports. Many studies contend that women still do the majority of household tasks (that could be a key reason for women not being in many boardrooms!). In urban Canada, multiculturalism reigns but the sea of leadership faces is still largely white (my observations). Vaclav Smil, author of Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next 50 Years, estimates that a global pandemic is a 100% certainty in the not too distant future. He also says that it will take about 50 years to wean ourselves off fossil fuels on a large scale. Even David Suzuki, Canada’s foremost environmental evangelist is resigned to the slow pace of change!

So, I get it: change is non-linear and takes far more time than we expect. As with climate change, weather is erratic yet we can detect patterns in the climate over long periods of time and plan accordingly. Being adept at adapting and monitoring how to adapt and shape some events are the aces up our sleeves. As long as we have patience: this may take 100 years or more!

I now know what the book What We Believe But Cannot Prove means. Our day-to-day beliefs come from established theories but what about beliefs based on theories in progress?

No comments: