A climate change Olympics? It can’t come faster enough

A climate change Olympics? It can’t come faster enough


(By Shivanand Mohanty)
Dear Olympics,
When it comes to powerful slogans, yours belongs up there among the very best: Faster, Higher, Stronger.
It has not only inspired athletes to put in their best performance, but also shaped much of what we believe and value. GDP. Market share. Revenue. Profits after tax. College entrance cutoffs. They all have value only when they are rising faster, higher, stronger.
There is a dark side to this force, though.
Our pursuit of the numbers that make us look good on newspaper headlines, annual reports and case studies, is also helping to achieve some grim milestones along the way. Like, the amount of plastic consumed (roughly 5g per week per person, according to an Australian study), the area of rainforest decimated (about 150 acres a minute, says the internet), or even the number of years we lose to air pollution (three years and counting).
Is it time, then, to rethink ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’? Can we go beyond just numbers? Can we define a new purpose that celebrates quality of effort as much as it does the end result? Something that’s gentler for these troubled times – something like ‘Braver, Better, Slower’?
But, that would never work. After all, we are hard-wired to compete. The urge to outdo ourselves is matched only by the drive to beat others. This is why countries devote so many resources to the Olympics. The medal tally is a shining measure of their worth in the global pecking order.
Instead, why not make Climate Change an Olympic sport?
Experts can design the event like the Decathlon – with sub-events like conservation, reduction in emissions, clean energy, afforestation, and more. The same experts can assign goals for every country and mark them on their achievements in each. Just like gymnastics, there would be individual and team medals for the winners.
To begin with, this would engage our attention more intensely than ever before. Your arenas have always been a fertile ground for great stories. From athletes to nations, everyone has an ‘Olympic’ dream and an unforgettable ‘Olympic’ story. Think ‘Chariots of Fire’ or ‘Cool Runnings’. Now, imagine the stories that will emerge from the world of sustainability, inspiring the champion eco-warriors of tomorrow…
Secondly, it would help keep the focus on what needs to be done. For individuals, and for individual nations, ‘saving the planet’ is a vague goal. Winning a medal is a much clearer objective. And while we’re at it, beating other countries (especially annoying neighbours) is so much more fun!
Finally, fighting climate change is an event with no spectators. Everyone’s a participant. Of course, champions will emerge, but this is a competition where every little effort makes a difference. And some unfamiliar countries are likely to win – imagine a medal ceremony playing the national anthem of Bhutan…
There are 291 days for your next edition to kick off in Tokyo. But on this issue, the world needs to move ‘faster, higher, stronger’.
Sincerely,
A fan
(The author is Creative Partner, Daiko FHO Communications)



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