Archive for September, 2010
If you’re like me, you’re doing some green stuff. You feed your kids organic milk. You recycle. Maybe you do a lot of green stuff. You’re doing your part, right?
Well, in Ecological Intelligence Daniel Goleman prompts us to think again about whether we’re doing what we really need to do. Action is imperative, but so is thinking. We need to act in a thoughtful, informed manner in order to have a real eco impact.
As a psychologist, environmentalist and concerned parent, I eagerly read the father of emotional and social intelligence’s contribution to the growing crop of books on the ecological impacts of our choices. In Ecological Intelligence, Daniel Goleman applies the same wisdom he displayed in Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence to what might be considered the most pressing issue of our time—the dire state of the natural world that nourishes and sustains us. The natural world that can afford our children a future in which our kids can thrive– if we act intelligently, or mindfully, now.
Daniel Goleman helps us understand our difficulty confronting hard truths about the state of our planet. He points to the need to stop telling ourselves comforting “vital lies” that mask hard truths. He nicely describes from an evolutionary and psychological standpoint why it is difficult—although not impossible– for us to register and therefore act on gradual threats such as the increases in temperature we are experiencing. I am highly informed, engaged, environmentally aware psychologist, and even I struggle sometimes to face the reality of the state of our natural world and the implications for our society—and our children’s lives.
He offers a wonderful of example of recycling as a vital lie that allows us to feel like we’re doing our part, when in fact we’re barely making a dent given the nature and scale of the problem of waste and contamination. Recycling is one of our favorite eco-actions— it’s a no brainer, right? Yet he suggests that until we have “total recycling” in which all the components of a product can be completely reused, we are simply lulling ourselves into thinking that we are doing enough when in fact we are doing very little of real environmental good. This kind of vital lie, he argues, “creates a collusion among us all not to look squarely at the hidden impacts of our choices.”
He makes a compelling argument for “radical transparency’ on the part of companies that would allow us to make fully informed choices about what we buy. Personally, I can’t wait til I no longer have to labor over questions like “Does this water bottle have toxic PBA that will leach into my kids’ water?” To achieve radical transparency, however, will require us to use not just our wallets but our voices and votes to incentivize companies to reduce their impact on the natural world—and to tell us fully what they are doing.
My mission is about empowering people to take meaningful action to protect the planet for our children and grandchildren. Ecological intelligence is required of us if we are to protect the planet for those we love.
If you want to be a conscious consumer—or business leader or voter, for that matter—read this book, pause, reflect, pass it on to a friend, and use your spheres of influence to act in an ecologically intelligent manner– on the greatest scale possible.
While you’re at it– download the first two chapters of my book, Fierce Love: How One Mother Reinvented Herself by Saving the Planet, and you can too here. And please post your valued comments!
Because we have exactly enough time– starting now.