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I know there are many people, maybe even a majority of folks out there who still choose to believe that our Planet can indefinitely sustain our present-day lifestyle and rate of consumption. Those folks should just click away because what follows is strictly for the rest of us – those who unquestionably accept the reality that life as we’ve been living it up to now must absolutely and radically change.

It must change to avoid catastrophic climate change, utter depletion of our natural resources, complete poisoning of our natural environment, and wholesale elimination of an untenable number of native species—very possibly including our own.

For those of us who don’t argue this statement, be it many or ever so few, the real question then becomes - how? How do we change our global way of life quickly enough and substantially enough to prevent that future from becoming our own? More pointedly, how does a free society still teeming with aggressively hyper-consuming naysayers (and let’s face it, most of us are still consuming way more than our fair share) ever change quickly and deeply enough to make a substantial and meaningful difference to this grim future scenario?

My answer to this question begins with all of us, courageously, starting to tell the truth. Tell the truth about the situation we’re in, and the real risks and dire global problems we face. Tell the truth to ourselves, to each other, to our kids, our colleagues, and most importantly begin demanding to hear the truth from our world leaders.

Today few of us are even comfortable speaking publicly about the disturbing situations we face as a global community. Maybe it’s just not considered polite conversation yet to enter a discussion about the slumping economy by sharing that in your opinion the slumping economy is not even remotely close to the real issue. The real issue is that our current lifestyle and the fundamental economic model of hyper-consumption that it’s based on must radically change.

We’ve all heard the truth that no meaningful solution is ever developed without first facing and then accurately defining the real problem. Accordingly, until we begin to move past our collective denial and start having these honest dialogues, we’re still postponing the real work of collectively engineering the hoped for soft landing to a sustainable global lifestyle for our world family. Can we afford to put this conversation off any longer? Will breaking through our mass denial and accepting that human behavior—yours and mine—must radically change, be avoided until we hear the deafening drumbeat of ever-escalating global disasters? Let’s hope not.

Beyond just starting these honest discussions, the very real question still remains of how we fundamentally change billions of human minds and then radically alter basic every day behavior on a global scale? Is activism an effective means? Is the painstakingly slow and ever-dysfunctional political process an effective means of social change at this colossal level? Whatever solution we choose, it needs to begin soon and it must quickly extend to bold honest, realistic and practical dialogue originating from our national and international leaders. Yes, our world leaders, who are intelligent and well informed enough to realize exactly what’s happening here, must somehow find the gumption and compassion needed to begin telling us all the truth – and then assist all of society to accept and make the profound changes that are needed.

So, it seems to me that if we’re going to “make room” for real conversations with our leaders, again the most important conversations must start with you and me, the people on the street. Maybe if we all begin to hear the truth about our global situation in coffee shops and business meetings, blogs and talk shows, and around the dinner table, then we can get beyond the shock factor these discussions seem to engender now and start dealing constructively with the new reality.