The first step to resolving any problem is being aware of the problem, and understanding the scope and scale of the problem.  “The Big Picture”.

This thread of quotes from notable sources spells out the Big Picture on Sustainability.

“Is this how our story is due to end? A tale of the smartest species, doomed, by that all too human characteristic, of failing to see the bigger picture.”

This question posed by Sir. David Attenborough at COP 26 Conference on Climate Change expressed the concerns of thousands of scientists who have been sounding the alarm. He provides us with the first step towards solution.

We must all see “The Bigger Picture”, and come to grips with it.

We are facing the greatest threat to our existence as a species in recorded history; and we are responding with denial, apathy, and ineffective countermeasures.

“The human species has been around for 100,000 years and it is now facing a unique time in history. The species is now in a position where it will decide very soon whether the experiment in so-called intelligent life will proceed; or are we determined to destroy it ?”

This statement, by Noam Chomsky, renowned scholar and Political Theorist, implies 3 things:

1 That Human Beings are an intelligent species.

2. That the survival of the Human Species is under imminent threat; and

3.That human beings are the biggest threat to our own existence.

“When will Leaders lead? ….. Can there be peace and prosperity if 1/3 of the world prospers; while 2/3s live under siege, and calamitous threats to our well being? ”.

 In her inspirational address at the COP26 Climate Summit in 2021, Mia Mottley, P.M. of Barbados posed the question that will determine our future; “When will Leaders Lead?”

Placing the responsibility of fixing our problems squarely on the shoulders of our Global Leaders. 

When will our Leaders demonstrate the intelligence and character needed to lead us to Peace and Sustainability.

e have never needed united, honorable and competent leadership more than we do now.

The second major step in any change initiative is identifying and understanding the root causes of the problem.

These 6 quotes reveal the ideological and systemic flaws that contributed to our global challenges.

“We have an Economic System that’s set up to engage in perpetual growth on a finite planet; alongside a Political System that is short-termist by design;…. So you have an intersection of multiple systems that are incompatible with solving our problems.”

This quote from Claire Farrell, of Extinction Rebellion, summarizes our big picture quite accurately; we are facing multiple existential threats and our international economic and political systems are not designed to solve our problems.

Our socioeconomic models promote excessive consumption, waste, divisiveness, exploitation, and inequity.

Our problems are compounded because many of our global leaders are still in a state of denial that these threats exist because they benefit from the status quo.  

So why did we put ourselves in this position, if we are an intelligent species?

"I'm not the first National Chief to ask for the Documents of Discovery to be Rescinded, and I certainly won't be the last."

Chief RoseAnne Archibald, and many other First Nations Advocates waged a relentless campaign for the Rescinding of the Doctrines of Discovery.

These papal bulls that have finally been (symbolically) rejected by the Vatican in the form of a Repudiation, provided the “Cloak of Moral Authority,” for the acts of genocide, slavery, and other abuses under European Colonization.

These doctrines also provided the foundation for White Supremacy, and other race and faith-based hate ideologies. The rescinding of these documents is long overdue. 

“The phrase America First accrued connotations in the United States over the course of decades, until it functioned as a cultural and political code, a shorthand…… America First the World Afterword.”

In her enlightening lecture at the University of Birmingham; Professor Sarah Churchwell explained the history and social impact of the US political slogan, America First. This divisive Ideology has framed our international relations for centuries. The US just happens to be the global bully in our lifetime.

This mantra reinforces four destructive paradigms: 

1 That the world is in a competition of nations for wealth and resources.

 2 That America deserves the best the world has to offer and the rest of humanity must fight for the leftovers.  3 Undermines the concepts of Multilateralism and Equity.

4 Invites divisive and bigoted ideologies.

It is not sufficient, nor fair, to say that Climate Change is just the result of the activity of human beings on the planet. …It is a system, a way of thinking and feeling, a way of producing wealth and poverty, a pattern of “development” that is taking us to the edge of an abyss. It is the Logic of the Capitalist System that is destroying the planet.

This quote, from Evo Morales Ayma author of  “10 Commandments to Save the Planet…”  and former President of Bolivia,  crystalizes Ms. Farrell’s statement about our “Systems being incompatible with solving our problems”.

We are facing global existential threats that are the result of several flawed global governance systems operated by flawed human beings.

We must be willing to acknowledge the flaws in our systems and make the changes necessary to save our planet and species.

“Once you think of somebody as a market, how are you going to approach them?... If I saw you as a human being, I would see what you need…. Human Wellbeing is the only Business.”

This statement by Sadhguru gets to the heart of our collective mindset challenge.

We have been conditioned to see each other as “Markets”. Every problem, need, or interaction with another human being is viewed as an opportunity for “Profit”.

We expect that approach from today’s Corporate Community; however, many of our Public Institutions that were set up to deliver on the Social Contract, now operate as revenue-generating entities; managing and exploiting problems, instead of resolving them.

We must shift the Strategic Focus from “Profit” to “Purpose” We need leaders, policies, systems, and structures that reflect the altruistic principles that are aligned with Sustainability: Collaboration, Equity, Inclusion, Merit, Justice, Preservation, and Integrity.

“There are people who have Cultural, Political, Religious and Economic philosophies that they invoke when they want to Cherry Pick one scientific result or another…..

In a CNN interview in July 2017, renowned Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was question on “Climate Change Denial”. In his response he scolded lawmakers and members of the media for cherry picking scientific papers that were inconsistent with the scientific community’s consensus, to reinforce scientifically flawed political views on climate change. A classic example of Confirmation Bias. Tyson said that it was irresponsible of government to create public policy on an issue, while ignoring scientific consensus to the contrary. 

Confirmation Bias is seeking out and acknowledging only information that supports your established position or your personal interests.

Critical Thiking is simply the process of trying to identify and Fully Understand. the truth.


The final major step in any change initiative is identifying and implementing the appropriate solutions.

These three quotes highlight critical areas that must be addressed; for us to have any hope of reaching the level of global collaboration needed to save ourselves. 

“Oneness: is the recognition that; We are part of One Planet, and we are One Humanity! And unless we live with that Consciousness, and shape every moment of our production and consumption with that Consciousness; We are going to destroy ourselves.”

This quote from Vandana Shiva, renowned environmentalist and author, reveals the biggest challenge faced by humanity, Our Level of Consciousness; especially of those in positions of power.

We are still stuck in a very tribal paradigm, with the idea that the only social model available to us is one of tribal competition and warfare, for resources and domination.

Unless we can achieve Global Level consciousness amongst our leaders, we will never be able to resolve global level issues. We cannot sit around the table and make deals we intend to honour, with people we see as enemies , oppressors or peasants.

“First the G20 should become the G21. By inviting systematically the chairperson of the African Union, the African Union would become the 21st country. Giving 1.4 billion people representation at the table for finance, right now! ”

 With his call for the African Union to become the 21st country in the G20, Sachs underscores the critical need for broader representation in global economic decision-making. It emphasizes the necessity of dismantling the existing framework, which has long excluded voices that should hold equal weight in shaping the world’s economic destiny. Our Global Social Contract is predicated first and foremost by the assumption of equity and fairness. There is nothing in our history of political and economic relations with the continent of Africa that can be considered fair or equitable. Correcting this injustice would be a giant step in forging a united humanity.

“And the final thing is, we need the UN as the Core and Central institution of this world, period; because this is the only way are going to have a civilized world, is a strong UN. And it cannot be that the whole UN’s budget is less than my neighborhood’s budget in New York.”

This Jeffrey Sachs comment speaks to a critical problem we must address. 

The United Nations (UN) is the current body with a global mandate on these issues. Full Empowerment of the UN on international matters of Peace, Environmental Protection, and Human Rights is paramount to achieving Global Sustainability.

Along with such empowerment comes the enormous responsibility of developing effective, corruption-proof, transparent systems for the delivery of the Global Social Contract.

The transformation initiatives required to achieve any measure of Sustainability, on a Global or National level, require Institutions and Organizations of Integrity, led by individuals of Integrity, Vision, and a Sense of Purpose. 

Tony Redman

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