How to Raise Perspective and Extend Thinking

Survival of the species brings everything into focus.

A recent post on LinkedIn opened my perspective on the pandemic, climate change, space travel and humanity becoming a multi-planetary species to such an extent that I can honestly say that the axis of how I think about everything I teach and how I coach has shifted.

The author, Moribah Jah, happens to be the Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Mrs. Pearlie Dashiell Henderson Centennial Fellowship in Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.

Just this past week Prof. Jah posted this gem of a thought and call to action:

This post has been on my mind constantly, challenging me to expand my thinking and, in Prof Jah’s words “get after it”.

Over the last 10 years or so the rhetoric in the space industry has moved from “peaceful use of space” to “overmatch in the space warfighting domain.” 

Given the urgent, existential threat posed by climate change, this zero-sum agenda and perspective strike me as particularly myopic and ill-conceived 🤔

A Pyrrhic victory

“Winning” in the “space warfighting domain” when the spoils of war are a climate and planet no longer able to support life and orbits rendered useless by Kessler syndrome seems like the very definition of a Pyrrhic victory.

It puts all of the conflicts currently raging across our multi-generational spaceship Earth into their proper context: fruitless fights over limited resources that serve to distract us from the much bigger problem we must address.

Divert military spending to tackle the real threat

We, and all our militaries, need to raise our perspective and extend our thinking.

Global military spending in 2020 totalled $1981 billion. If all nations agree to reassign 25% of that budgetary allocation to real action on climate change, we would have roughly $459 billion a year to spend on giving our species a fighting chance of survival on Earth.

And Earth is, and will for a very long time be, the only rock on which humans are capable of multi-generational settlement. Yes, Mars colonies will likely happen in our lifetimes 🚀👩‍🚀. But that’s not quite a multi-generational scenario just yet.* 

Those of us not in the military chain of command must also raise our perspective and extend our thinking.

I'm interested in how it CAN be done

There are 1.2 billion cars on the road currently, 97.5% of which run on fossil fuels. Where is the electric motor that can be dropped into existing gasoline-driven cars to reduce CO2 loading of the atmosphere, while minimizing production of new vehicles?

Don’t tell me all the reasons why it can’t be done. I’m interested in the ways it CAN be done.

Where’s the VC money investing in mass-market versions of residential greywater recycling systems, such as the ones invented by enterprising Cape Town residents during the water crisis there? Pretty soon we’re all going to need them.

Reducing plastic use, reducing chemical use, veganism, walking and bicycling, using public transport, flying less, these are all small pieces of a much, much, much larger whole.

And, for the survival of our species we also need to figure out how to birth new generations off Earth. There is much work to do.

Raise your perspective and extend your thinking

You and I are just one of many millions of individuals together making up the human species. It’s your and my responsibility to do what we can to ensure the survival of the species as a whole - how will you contribute? 

How will you “get after it”?

*(Unless we invent the warp drive. We need to get after that, too.)

Hanna Steplewska MSc is the Founder and CEO of EVA Strategies, a coaching and consulting firm. Hanna helps multifaceted humans — engineers, scientists, financiers, writers and creatives — feel confident and thrive during professional challenges and up-levels. Hanna delivers exceptional results through private Coaching, group Workshops and virtual and in-person Keynotes.

EVA is a nod to Hanna’s aerospace and oceanography background, a reference to Wall-E’s object of desire and a reminder to *not* keep arms and legs in the vehicle at all times.

To read more from Hanna, join thousands of readers of her weekly emailed articles.

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