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GSS TBL S-LCA Benefits

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GSS TBL S-LCA Functions

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GSS TBL S-LCA Features

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  • we specialize in and evaluate products and services via multivariate comparative decision-making
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Sometimes a person just nails it…

gssadmin's picture
on Mon, 10/19/2009 - 12:51


November 19th, 2009

Every now and then, someone makes a speech that inspires as much as it
empowers. After I read Paul Hawkens’ Speech I knew I had to share it.


You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring

The Unforgettable Commencement Address to the Class of 2009, University
of Portland, by Paul Hawken

When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a
simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate,
lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” No pressure there.

Let’s begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to
have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time
when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is
accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one
peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that

Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the
programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have
misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or
air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the
thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship
earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on
one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no
need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food — but
all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive,
and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you
what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth
couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you
rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that
unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the
deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the
time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not
possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was
impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my
answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is
happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the
data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth
and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a
pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing
to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore
some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet
Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot
with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.”

There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is
reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in
schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge
camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and
organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day:
climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger,
conservation, human rights, and more.

This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than
control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to
disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the
scenes and gets the job done.

Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement.

It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the
world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of
teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers,
nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students,
incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets,
doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the
President of the United States of America, and as the writer David
James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a
huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the
Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true.
Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it
resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild,
recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you
had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their
bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the
profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the
evening news is usually about the death of strangers.

This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very
specific eighteenth-century roots.

Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global
movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that
time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The
founders of this movement were largely unknown — Granville Sharp,
Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on
the face of it:

at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved.
Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the
abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative
spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives,
do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the
economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in
history a group of people organized themselves to help people they
would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect
benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is
called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social
entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who
place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic
goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What
do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life
creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no
better motto for a future economy.

We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of
thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers
advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the
only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have
an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real
time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to
bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At
present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and
calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an
economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We
can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the
future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And
whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold
suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way
to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago,
and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally
you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by
Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates
are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to
become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one
quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body
is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish
in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions
of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in
one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment,
a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has
undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the
universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said
science would discover that each living creature was a “little
universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably
minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body?
Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on
simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore
it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It
is called life.

This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body?
Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life
is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just
as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that
are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively
humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal
the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came
out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of
course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be
ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the
stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and
the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not
in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as
complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done
great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring

You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever
bequeathed to any generation. The generations before you failed. They
didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the
fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature
beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The
most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer.
Hope only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is
your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.


Paul Hawken is a renowned entrepreneur, visionary environmental
activist, and author of many books, most recently Blessed Unrest: How
the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It
Coming. He was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters
by University president Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., in May, when he
delivered this superb speech. Our thanks especially to Erica Linson for
her help making that moment possible.