The process of finalizing this issue of Solutions has been fraught with the catastrophic impacts of climate change. When I began drafting this letter, my home city of New Orleans was flooding. Six inches of rain fell in just one hour, and the street in front of our house was like a rolling river filled with trash and debris. At the same time, forecasts were heating up over where Hurricane Barry would hit. This being my first hurricane as a New Orleans resident, I was glued to the television and on-line reports, examining spaghetti models and impact cones. Should we evacuate? If yesterday’s six inches flooded the city, what would it be like to get twenty-four inches? And for the first time, we had to worry about the Mississippi River breaching her banks. My personal stress level was off-the-charts; I couldn’t really think of anything other than the storm. One woman in my office said her entire family was going to Pensacola, but she couldn’t afford to evacuate. The unequal impacts of extreme weather events really hit home that day! Eventually, my husband Jason and I decided to get a room at a hotel that had a generator and accepted pets. We bought groceries, and hunkered down for days watching the storm with our dogs at the hotel.
Around the world, similar high stress events have occurred. The World Meteorological Organization officially named July 2019 as the hottest July on record, just after it had named June 2019 the hottest June on record. Approximately 1/3 of the United States has been under heat advisories, while Europe in general and France and Germany in particular have struggled with intense heat. Australia, South America, The Arctic, and Alaska all experienced record temperatures this summer, melting permafrost and glaciers at rates in some cases almost 100 times faster than previously predicted by climate models. Heat wasn’t the only extreme we faced as a planet. May of 2019 was recorded as the 2nd wettest May on record and solidified the period between May 2018 and May 2019 as the wettest twelve months recorded by the National Centers for Environmental Information at NOAA. By February of 2019, nearly forty extreme weather records were broken around the world.
More than ever, we need solutions; and we need solutions that can break through the political and economic stalemates that keep us trapped pursuing ways to perpetuate the status quo.
This issue of Solutions is dedicated to highlighting some of the tools being used to penetrate inertia and bring about significant changes in our approaches to sustainability. Data shows that scientific evidence is not enough to motivate changes in policies and behavior. Alternative technologies and mental models are needed. We highlight a number of interesting examples of each of these here.
I am thrilled to draw your attention to the powerful artwork of Kito Mbiango, which is featured on the cover of this issue and is the subject of a photo exposé that elaborates Kito’s vision for the way art can break through the barriers that hold us back from the changes needed to address climate change. The cover, along with the other images featured in Jill Van den Brule’s exposé are from Kito’s Climate Change Collection. The images have enthralled me since I encountered them. I hope you will ponder their messages, wonder at their foreboding compositions, and become more open to recognizing our interdependencies with the natural world through his work. Artists like Kito are essential players in the creation of alternative visions of the future and alternative narratives to frame human relations with the natural world. They also help us to recharge our commitments to our activist, scholarly, business, and policy work focused on creating shared prosperity on a healthy planet, because sitting with the truth of images like Kito’s deeply connects us to the personal truths that drive us in our sustainability work.
Finally, please join me in welcoming Dr. Mairi-Jane Fox as our new Media Section Editor and Business Editor. Fox is a relentless advocate for the impact businesses can have on the road to sustainability, having served inside of oil & gas, mining, and finance organizations on social and environmental responsibility initiatives. She currently serves as Assistant Professor of Finance & Economics and Director of the Sustainable Economic & Enterprise Development Institute at Regis University in Denver, Colorado.
As always, thank you for being part of our Solutions family. We invite you to get more deeply involved by submitting your work, becoming a sponsor, following us on social media or volunteering your time and talents to our efforts.
In deep solidarity.