Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You Were Born To Save the Planet

Adam Werbach, the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S, recently spoke at the 5th Annual Teens Turning Green Summit in California to an audience of keen, sustainability-minded young people. His message – on the opportunities this generation has to create positive change and the power of DOTs – clearly resonated, and is now spreading like wildfire on the web. It’s a welcome shot of inspiration for anyone, whether you’re teen or senior, whether you consider yourself Green or Blue. Below is a shortened version of Adam’s speech, you can read the full version here. KR.

The Earth needs you right now. Our ecological systems are in decline, one-third of fish species stand at the verge of collapse, the glaciers of the Himalayas, which provide drinking water to over a billion people, are rapidly melting, the chemicals we're putting in us, on us and around us are forming complex endocrine disrupting compounds that are in every one of our bodies. Tonight hundreds of thousands of Haitians are sleeping below flimsy plastic shelters wondering where they'll find their next meal, wondering when their kids will start going to school again.

All of this bad news should make me crawl up into a ball. But instead I'm oddly optimistic, like a kid looking for coins in a payphone. The world may be screwed up, but it's changing faster than ever. Your challenge is to make the type of change we want at the speed we need. And you have it in your neural programming to make it so. Recent brain studies show that your brain moves faster when you're younger, so you're bringing more processing power to the challenge. All of that texting and facebooking is going to pay off in spades. The world is changing and your generation was born to save the planet.

Any movement starts with yourself. I ask you to pick a DOT – DOT stands for Do One Thing. One thing that's good for you, good for the planet, that you do regularly. Maybe it's yoga or riding your bike or saving energy. But it's one thing you do to put your body where your mouth is. We need a billion DOTs. One billion people all making their own commitments. Take a moment now and choose your own DOT. Share it with a friend. Keep it going. Pick another. And it all adds up. If every high schooler turned the thermostat in their house down by one degree Celsius, it would be like reducing 100,000 tanker trucks of gasoline, or taking over a million cars off the road.

Right now there are about 6.7 billion people on the planet. And there's an emerging bulge of teenagers at the bottom of the demographic pyramid that exists because fertility rates are dropping globally. By 2011 there will be 7 billion people and 1 billion teenagers on the planet. Can you imagine 1 billion teenagers? Can you imagine them talking all at once? Now imagine them all walking in the same direction in a line that's as long as 1,000,000 Empire State Buildings. Can you see it? The line would stretch around the earth fifteen times. Can you see it? Now imagine one billion DOTs. All coming together. I'll bet on that.

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