When a young Andrew takes aim in his garden, little does he know what shots will be fired.
A Pivotal Moment is one of those times when – either through necessity or opportunity – you make a shift. You may not realise it at the time, but it’s the sort of shift that changes your life.
In our publication “How did we do that?” we explore examples of change that have affected nations and even the world, big things like volcanoes, banks and wars. Pivotal Moments focus on the other end of the spectrum: individual, personal, seemingly small examples of evidence based hope.
So why might Pivotal Moments be useful to us in speeding up our response to climate change? Well, firstly, because they remind us of the possibility of change.
Secondly because, as Gandhi says, what we think, do and become are all linked:
“Our thoughts become our words, our words become our actions, our actions become our character, our character becomes our destiny”
The power of Pivotal Moments is, we suspect, not in their singularity, but in their diversity. Sometimes, when we’re looking for solutions, we seek one thing – like a hero on a quest to find a dragon or a fleece. What if, instead of one dragon, there are many? Some of whom know each other. Dealing with climate change – and fast – is a complex business. There are no single lever pull solutions. Pivotal Moments are like leverage points which, as the environmental scientist and systems thinker Donella Meadows says, are
“… places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything”.
Again, the relationship between big and small is key here. We know that already – but we need to go beyond those shifts being about us changing lightbulbs and washing our clothes at a lower temperature.
A Pivotal Moment might feel like a solid thing but as Pareto, the Italian economist and sociologist, reminds us even a rock is made up of a number of elements. Some Pivotal Moments are the start of things – catalysts that set in train a series of ideas and events. Others, while they might feel like they come out of the blue, often happen when a number of things come together. As Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, famously said: “Creativity is just connecting things”.
If you have a Pivotal Moment you would like to share, please get in touch.email. We’d love to hear from you.
Andrew Simms is Coordinator of the Rapid Transition Alliance, an author, political economist and activist. He is co-director of the NewWeather Institute, Assistant Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility, a Research Associate at the University of Sussex, and a Fellow of the New Economics Foundation (NEF). His books include The New Economics, Cancel the Apocalypse: the New Path to Prosperity, Ecological Debt and Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth? He tweets from @andrewsimms_uk