June 06, 2020   12:49am

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Is “the inflection” near?


Having lived through … the integration crisis … the pill … the free speech movement … Haight Ashbury … Vietnam … woman’s lib … web 1.0 … It is with subtle glee to think that, once again, I may get to be part of a momentous “movement.”  I’m not kidding.  It’s about time.

So, what could be better in this current stage of my life than to be involved in “The Inflection” — anyway, that’s what Tom Friedman is calling it.

What’s that?  According to The American Heritage Dictionary:  “A turning or bending away from a position of alignment.”  You could have fooled me. I had no idea that we’d ever been in alignment?

However, in case you missed Tom Friedman’s  “The Inflection is Near,” (New York Times, March 8), here are moments to make you pause. (snoety’s bolding).  I think he’s on to something, so check this out, but you really should read the whole thing …

THE INFLECTION IS NEAR by Thomas Friedman as written in The New York Times.

… “Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall – when Mother Nature and the market both said: ‘No more.’… We can’t do this anymore.

‘We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,’ said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert …

‘You can get this burst of wealth that we have created from this rapacious behavior,” added Romm. “But it has to collapse, unless adults stand up and say, ‘This is a Ponzi scheme. We have not generated real wealth, and we are destroying a livable climate …’ Real wealth is something you can pass on in a way that others can enjoy.’

… One of those who has been warning me of this for a long time is Paul Gilding, the Australian environmental business expert. He has a name for this moment – when both Mother Nature and Father Greed have hit the wall at once – “The Great Disruption.”

“We are taking a system operating past its capacity and driving it faster and harder,” he wrote me. “No matter how wonderful the system is, the laws of physics and biology still apply.” We must have growth, but we must grow in a different way. For starters, economies need to transition to the concept of net-zero, whereby buildings, cars, factories and homes are designed not only to generate as much energy as they use but to be infinitely recyclable in as many parts as possible. Let’s grow by creating flows rather than plundering more stocks.

Gilding says he’s actually an optimist. So am I. People are already using this economic slowdown to retool and reorient economies. Germany, Britain, China and the U.S. have all used stimulus bills to make huge new investments in clean power. South Korea’s new national paradigm for development is called: “Low carbon, green growth.” Who knew? People are realizing we need more than incremental changes – and we’re seeing the first stirrings of growth in smarter, more efficient, more responsible ways.

In the meantime, says Gilding, take notes: ‘When we look back, 2008 will be a momentous year in human history. Our children and grandchildren will ask us, ‘What was it like? What were you doing when it started to fall apart? What did you think? What did you do?’ Often in the middle of something momentous, we can’t see its significance. But for me there is no doubt: 2008 will be the marker – the year when ‘The Great Disruption’ began.”

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