Man-made climate change is a symptom. To understand the cause of it, we must first understand something invisible, fundamental, and powerful about our species. 

We must become aware of humanity’s superpower.

History tells us that we, homo sapiens, were in the middle of the food chain for most of our existence. Insignificant – as impactful as jellyfish. Contrary to popular belief, it was not our big brains, tools, or mastery of fire that brought us to the top – no, our fellow human species (and yes there were several) had those too.

What it was – what makes us special, is our ability to imagine, create, and believe in ideas that have no basis in reality. Think: nations, religion, corporations, money.

As Yuval Noah Harari says, “We can create and believe fictional stories. And as long as everybody believes in the same fiction, everybody obeys and follows the same rules, norms, and values.”

This ability to collectively believe in ideas, to create stories and fictitious entities that we’ve never seen, touched or smelled allowed us to cooperate flexibly with millions of strangers so that we could work together towards common goals.

This is our superpower.

It’s the collective stories we tell ourselves and believe in that makes us so powerful. 

We’ve built upon these stories for centuries. Now they are the very foundation of today’s society. 

Remember that. We live in a world built on the stories and beliefs of the past.

But more importantly, right now, we must realize this:

This world that was built – the system we now live in, does not work anymore.

We know this because the laws of nature are telling us that it is impossible to continue living on Earth as we do today. The conditions that make civilization possible are disappearing before our eyes.

And we only have a small window of time to tell new stories – to rebuild a new system that can support us.

To get on the right track, we must be conscious of where we stand, why we’re here, and where we need to go. That means identifying the root of the problem and taking action to correct it.

So what exactly are society’s stories that led us astray? 

1. The widespread belief that we are separate from, and better than, nature.

You don’t have to know much about history and science to know this belief is inaccurate. Yet, it’s ingrained in the fabric of our society – it’s even in our dictionaries.

But in reality, we are nature (a part of it anyway).

We are made of stardust, just like everything else in the universe.

And we are biologically related to all other life on Earth. We are all a family.

Everything is interconnected. We depend on a stable climate and other life to flourish. To think otherwise is not only wrong, but dangerous.

Take your own body for example. Did you know that 90% of “your” cells aren’t human? We rely on other species to function every day.

And so it is with society. Whether we realize it or not, we need a healthy biosphere to survive and thrive. We cannot do it alone.

Nature, our environment, is our life support system. If we believe we don’t need nature and are willing to destroy it, we are only harming ourselves.

It is time to become more conscious of this interdependent reality and code it into future systems.

2. Profit and corporations > people and planet

This one’s simple. Somewhere along the way, we got lost.

Today, short term profits matter most. We value GDP and quarterly earnings over people, health, education, and justice.

We’re told the economy matters more than the people’s wellbeing it’s supposedly an indicator of.

We created money, government, and corporations. We made them so that they could serve us – not the other way around. 

It’s time for a new story where these fictitious entities actually do serve the people.

3. Climate change is the symptom

The symptom of old stories gone wrong.

To fix it, we need a massive uprising in collective consciousness and active citizenship.

You and I are the last ones with a chance to do anything about the climate crisis. We have the opportunity to save millions of lives and create a safer, healthier, and more just world.

But changing the narrative and stopping global warming will require a heroic effort by millions and millions of people.

Lucky for us, as society’s stories and values begin to change, heroes won’t look like they used to.

They’ll look like you do.

Ryan Hagen knows that reversing global warming is humanity’s #1 priority because it threatens the people we love and the places we call home. He founded Crowdsourcing Sustainability to unleash the power of people everywhere by harnessing the wisdom and efforts of the crowd to help build a healthier, safer, more prosperous, and more just society. Join the community by signing up for his informative, inspiring, and actionable newsletter.