With increase in innovation, industrial production, and general human societal growth, come great benefits, but also incredible problems and obstacles to overcome. As our economies grow with our population, we are destroying the environment that created us and making ourselves unhappy with unrealistic goals that are centered around wealth instead of happiness. A pessimist would say that these are insurmountable problems and the only way that we can possibly come close to solving them is by using less, creating less, and doing less. However, what we need to do in order to create a positive and sustainable future is to think like solutionaries.
While innovation can encourage technology that helps destroy the environment, it can also create technology that prevents that damage and mitigates the effects. New methods of alternative energy and more efficient ways to use it are created every day from heat pumps to wind turbines. What we need to do, is focus on these solutions rather than the seemingly impossible challenges that they strive to accomplish. We do live in a capitalist society, and thus we need to make these solutions more economically viable than the practices that are causing the problems. As I learned from interviewing the co-creator of Suncommon, solar technology has already become more affordable than most other energy in some areas.
This will not be enough unless we change our perception of the world and our perception of success. As the world sees it right now, a person or a group of people (including countries) is successful when he/she/it has incredible wealth and incredible power. Because of this perception, we all strive for wealth and power beyond all else. We tend to think that it will bring happiness, and end up missing happiness all together. These beliefs and this perception creates a one-dimensional view of the world that cannot allow happiness or sustainable economies. Because of this, we must strive to think in terms of happiness rather than wealth and power.
While the capitalist economic system quickly drives deforestation, climate change, and extinction of animals, it does also support the human way of living and can increase standard of living incredibly quickly. The focus on renewable energy and happiness rather than money and power could threaten the capitalist system and weaken it substantially. Over the past few hundred years, the human race has progressed monumentally in terms of science, culture, and sheer quality of life. My proposed ideas to create a more positive future could potentially slow this growth. However, I believe that with the mindset of doing more rather than less to save the environment, we can have both a strong economy and a strong environment.
While I have not and cannot plan out my entire future, I can say that being a solutionary is one of my most important goals. I can commit to putting a smile on my face as often as possible, and to try to spread that smile to as many people as possible. Be it through comedy or art, maybe I can contribute to the belief that a smile is worth more than a dollar, or even a million dollars. Additionally, I hope to be able to use science to contribute to innovation in green technology and ideas for a better future.
It may sound harsh, but hopelessness is completely useless. If we tune out from the problems in the world because they have no possible solutions, nothing can possibly get done. I think that from my experiences with the solutionaries project and the people that I have met, I have no reason not to be hopeful. Our environment may be deteriorating, but our quality of living is constantly going up, education is on the rise, and innovation is constantly creating means to combat the damage. As the world continues to have problems, I say bring it on. We can stand together and face adversity with a smile.