We like to listen to optimists, and I am an optimist, but I am also a realist. My new book, Victim of Success: Civilization at Risk contains a blueprint to save the world but it is not a small change to business as usual. Decades of denial that a problem is brewing means that now it is not possible to avoid difficult and painful decisions. This is the uncomfortable and worrying reality that we don’t like to hear.
I remain optimistic because I know that when people really understand the risks we are taking on behalf of the next generation, they will be willing to enter crisis mode. The current set of proposals, being worked on for the climate talks in Copenhagen in December 2009, is not enough. A deal will be agreed, but it will then stifle the debate for the next decade whilst we invest in more nuclear power, ramp up carbon trading and then miss the ambitious targets that were agreed.
By then, climate change will be hitting many countries hard, the world population will still be expanding and natural habitats will have been destroyed. We will stop, think, and try again to come up with another blueprint for the planet, but by then the problems will be much more intractable.
My book is not the blueprint to save the world. It is a call to action, a plea to open our eyes to reality and an indication of the nature of a new direction for society. The time for complacency and reassuring optimism is long past. Civilization is at risk and it is up to this generation of world leaders to take steps to protect it.