Posts Tagged ‘change management’

Change Management and Climate Change

January 11, 2010 2 comments

What does Change Management have to do with Global Warming? Actually, a lot. The recent Arctic weather in the UK and most of continental Europe has reinvigorated the debate on climate change as a result of global warming.

Personally, I think our politicians and scientists are focusing their efforts in the wrong place. The reason being, I believe climate change is inevitable. The problem is not global warming per se. Not that I doubt that global warming is happening; there is almost irrefutable evidence that global warming has occurred at an accelerated pace recently. The problem is, we are ‘trying’ too hard to ‘stop’ global warming. I think that is a futile attempt and a serious misallocation of valuable resources (as demonstrated in the recent failure of our world leaders to agree on anything in the Copenhagen climate summit, which, I may add, cost the taxpayers millions and resulted in a huge carbon footprint from the air-miles clocked up by the gathering of head of states from around the world). We should, instead, be focusing our efforts on trying to militate against the effects of global warming rather than global warming itself.

I base my (most likely flawed) reasoning on my (less than respectable) understanding of the human psyche. We as humans are afraid of change, we are afraid of the unpredictable and the uncertainty of the future. We love the status quo. When we find out that we are changing jobs or schools, we moan and groan. When our manager at work tells us the department is being reshuffled, we worry and stress about our jobs.

Consider the following thought experiment. Most people when given a choice of a) a relatively predictable path in life towards job and financial security or b) a roller coaster life that may result in one being either broke or a millionaire, most people would choose (a) (despite what they would have you believe). There is nothing inherently ‘wrong’ or negative with such choice. We tend to stick with what we are familiar with. It is an evolutionary advantage hardwired into our brains. We play it safe.

The same thing is happening when we view climate change. We are afraid of dealing with the changes and the uncertainty of the future much more than our inability to deal with the effects of global warming itself. While we cannot overstate the threat of global warming, we should also acknowledge our fear of the uncertain/unknown. Yes, our concerns are warranted, as it will affect the wellbeing of billions of people. Unpredictable weather patterns will result in crops and agriculture being destroyed which will in turn produce a knock-on effect on the food supply. Those living close to sea will be particularly at risk from rising sea levels. Chaos may ensue. Our current lifestyle is not sustainable and will not cope with the changes brought about by climate change. As such, rather than change our lifestyle, which may result in the unpredictable, we try to stop the change agent.

I think it is time we start drawing up contingencies and preparing for the effects of climate change, rather than attempting to delay the inevitable. I am not saying that we shouldn’t focus on slowing down global warming. If slowing it down buys us some time, then by all means. All I am saying is that we should start preparing for the inevitable.

While setting CO2 quotas may help, why not start developing GM all-weather crops? While stopping the sea level from rising may help, why not start relocating people or encourage development in other regions? Instead of trying to ‘stop the wave’, I’d say ride the wave and harness its power. Sure, it may be easier said than done and such changes may bring about more short-term harm than good, but do we REALLY have a choice? If history has taught us anything, it is that nothing is ever constant. The only constant is change and resistance is futile. Status quo, while much desired, is an arbitrary concept.

For those of you still unconvinced on the effects of global warming. I’d highly recommend the DVD  An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore.

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