As an entrepreneur, author and activist, Vishen Lakhiani is on a mission to raise human consciousness, via Mindvalley, an award-winning education movement with millions of students worldwide. In this interview, he explains the direction environmental leadership could take to lead better results.
According to a recent study around 80 percent of big environmental leaders are in pre-suicidal state. Why is it so difficult to be an environmental leader these days in our societies?
I think many environmental leaders today are not doing a good job. The reason behind it is that they're failing to understand what is really going to fix the environment. It is the exponential technologies and changing human concepts of how we see our relationship with Earth. people are not aware of exponential technologies.
There is a great book by Peter Diamandis called Bold, where he talks about how exponential technologies are growing at such a great rate that we are going to solve our environmental crisis. There is nothing to be scared about, as this does not mean that we have to stop teaching and preaching and raising awareness. It's super important that we do that.
We are sparking scientists and engineers to help build these technologies. Some of the technologies that are really exciting are for example drones that can be automatically programmed to plant trees and clean the environment. Other technologies such as electric vehicles allow us to drop the solar power price which means clean energy. Then there is the desalinization which means easy access to water.
When we have crazy amounts of power, crazy amounts of clean water we can basically make places like the Middle East Oasis, we can turn this into rich forests, we can create so many more places on Earth where drones can plant trees and we can create much tighter closeness to nature. Environmentalists do not only seem to understand how rapidly technology is progressing but also the will of people to build these technologies. So, they vilify these people, and they make ordinary people angry at the environmentalists. When an environmentalist movement is destroying artworks, tossing sauce on Mona Lisa, glueing themselves to the ground – that was disturbing and disgusting and it makes people angrier towards the environmentalists. They should not do that.
There is another movement from the extreme left where they blame and vilify rich people. Elon Musk used to be very left-leaning… right now he's completely on the right side. He literally on Twitter said “I would encourage people to vote Republican”. I don't agree with that but if you look back at Elon's statement a few months before that he said people on the left have become vicious. He was unfairly attacked. This is a man who has done so much to promote electric vehicles, so much to help save the planet, so much more than most environmentalists and perhaps all the environmentalists on the planet put together. Yet the left attacks him and that is where environmentalists are not serving their own cause. They've become ultra extreme.
I would advise to stop hating rich people and start catching up on the idea of exponential technologies. Furthermore, to stop doing stupid stunts like glueing yourself to the walls of museums and to start having dialogue. There is a need to stop blaming people who don't believe in global warming. People who don't believe in global warming are often the people living the most sustainable lifestyles, growing their own food living in farmland. I believe in global warming but you do not have to vilify people who do not believe in it and you certainly do not have to vilify the engineers, scientists and the billionaires who are doing good things for the planet.
I used to work for Bill Gates. I have met Elon. I know his mother very well because I did a documentary film about his mother. These are good people. We vilify them for stupid reasons, but they are people who are doing so much good to help the planet. They need to be our heroes, not to be vilified. The environmental movement has to calm the heck down.
That's a really interesting and important part of it but there is also this personal aspect. As an environmental organization leader, you're so deep inside the problem that you see that the world is going to end when we run out of clean air and water and the vision you have created for yourself just brings depression. How do you deal with that?
The world is not going to end. I have faith in humanity. Do you remember the ozone hole? The ozone hole was fixed when we made changes. I think different changes are going to happen and there are so many funds right now that are being developed to fund clean technology companies. I was at the Estonian startup awards, it was so wonderful to see that one of the categories right now is like top clean technology company.
I know some members of the Estonian government and I know how much the Estonian government has set aside to invest in clean technology. I have friends who have set up clean technology funds. There is a huge rise right now in companies which are helping improve the earth. Among the engineers and scientists, we are not afraid of global warming. We are not disillusioned; we were not living in illusion as well. We know the numbers. We know it is going to get bad, but we also understand that technology is growing at an exponential rate.
Let me explain it this way – between 1900 and 2000 the world saw a lot of change, but the world saw that same degree of change between 2000 and 2016. In 16 years, we saw a century long change. Currently it is getting faster. So, between 2016 and 2022 we saw the change only to increase and now between 2022 and 2030 we are going to see again the equivalent of over a century's worth of change. This is why I'm bullish and say that we are going to save the planet and global warming is going to be reversed.