Recently I heard one of the most poignant descriptions of why many people struggle to acknowledge the enormity of the climate crisis.
I recognize I’m at risk of TLDR ("too long, didn't read") with this personal letter, so I hope you’ll stay with me.
The insight came from Katharine Hayhoe, one of the world’s leading atmospheric scientists. Kayhoe has a unique role — she is both Chief Scientist of the Nature Conservancy and climate ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance. She is also a professor of political science at Texas Tech University, the wife of a pastor, and the daughter of a missionary.
Katharine was interviewed by Krista Tippett on the podcast On Being. To get to my point, I’ve appended some of their dialogue here:
And so that’s the other fear, is that somehow, we would lose everything we hold dear. And sadly, the way our human psychology is built, psychologists have shown that we, as humans, are much more averse to losing what we have than gaining something new. And so I think there are some very smart people who have put those pieces together and deliberately communicated a message to us that we’re going to lose all we hold dear, instead of messaging the truth, which is, don’t you want to be more energy independent, rather than less? Don’t you want to have a car that is faster, that you never have to go to the gas station again — especially in the days of COVID — than the one that you have today, and that doesn’t produce air pollution that’s responsible for almost 9 million deaths a year? Don’t you want to grow food in a way that is healthy and good for the soil and for people and for the animals, too? Don’t you want to invest in nature, so it can protect us by purifying our air and our water and protecting our coastlines and providing habitat for animals and preventing zoonosis?
When we actually start talking about real solutions... when we ask people about real solutions, everybody’s on board. Everybody says, heck yes, I would love to do that. And so that is where we can directly address the fear, head-on."
It made so much sense hearing this! Identity plays such a key role in why we make the choices we do in our every day, let alone in the more profound decisions for how we tackle climate change.
Yet people aren’t the only ones facing their own identity head on. In our modern digital and physical landscape, we have never held greater identity as global citizens. In a world where tech giants often wield more power and create more revenue in a single year than most countries' GDPs, identity spans not only individuals, but whatever us humans dream up, nurture, and grow to have influence. Indeed, there have never been more businesses actively engaging and transacting on our planet than now. And all of these businesses have identity. All of those identities have agency. And in agency there is the power to choose and make change.
This is why ZZ chose to become a Certified B Corporation. It took us almost two years, but we got there. Certified B Corps are the highest standard for a company to express that they have met stringent and highly audited standards across governance, community, customers, environmental stewardship, and employees. In fact, the core tenets of B Corporations were created utilizing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Why did we spend two years working so hard to become a B Corp? I could tell you that each of us at ZZ knew we were doing right by people & planet, but it was bigger than that. As a business, how we show up and how we conduct ourselves matters now more than ever. Institutions across the world are having a reckoning; how power is accumulated and leveraged is changing; and businesses are predicating massive cultural and economic shifts more than ever before. And so, as a business, we knew we had no choice but to step up to the plate.
When the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, so many of us recognized that we would have to take matters into our own hands, that we could no longer rely on our governments and insitutitions to solve our problems for us. We had to be, as individuals and entrepreneurs, instigators of the change we wanted, leading by example toward the world we wanted to see writ large. As Katharine Hayhoe describes, “our future is still in our hands.”
Thank you always for your patronage of ZZ Driggs. We are trying our best.
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Here's to the possibilities ahead,
Whitney Frances Falk
Founder & CEO