This idea of “Legacy” has become buzzword-y of late. I’m sure the ultra rich have had it on their mind for millennia, and this is how we end up with rich people’s names on streets and buildings. Sometimes through foundations we also end up with a few folks trying to do a bit of good in the world as their “Legacy“.

In software, Legacy is used in a pejorative sense, but it seems in business and finance it has become something even the casual investor is told they should be thinking about. Well let’s get off of that horse, and consider instead what Legacy we leave to children who grow to be adults as Climate Change really starts bucking.

Will your Legacy be drought, floods, thirst, starvation, climate migration and resource wars? And that is only from the human’s perspective!

The poorest and most affected are migrating now. It just doesn’t rate as newsworthy because it isn’t happening in the US in a way we yet comprehend at the citizen level – and because it doesn’t sell ad buys like court gossip and intrigue do.

The richest, instead of capping profits so they can invest in solutions or mitigations, far from it, are building bunkers, or planning to, in the naive assumption that this will all be somehow temporary, like a hurricane, and things will “return to normal”. This behavior is undeniable shameful, and perhaps should be considered criminal/criminally negligent. These beneficiaries of a poorly managed capitalism don’t want to help, they want to hide, and think they can wait it out.

If you are are among the extraordinarily wealthy, do us all a favor and be part of the solution. Or at least enact practices in your life and businesses to stop being part of the problem. And if you can’t, please just donate all your money to groups that want to stop or mitigate this, and wander away.

I suppose this mindset of Legacy in the sense of how your money will help your identity live on is difficult to adapt to a future that sounds so extreme. The stark and terrifying reality eludes the capacity of our imagination while one can still order takeout sushi from oceans half a world away while sitting on the couch in their underwear.

Denial is the only practical response.

Only through denial can we still sit and ponder how our 401k’s will fulfill our ‘Legacy‘ hopes for our progeny.

Residents carry their belongings as they wade through muddy floodwater that submerged a village after Typhoon Vamco hit on Nov. 14, 2020 in Rodriguez, Rizal province, Philippines. Ezra Acayan / Getty Images



It can feel like shouting into the void, talking tweeting/retweeting/sharing/texting about climate/climate-change, biodiversity loss, overfishing, ocean acidification+warming, desertification – all the impacts of the disruption of natural cycles.

Oftentimes there is simply no response. We’re all exhausted from learning even more ways things are failing. Maybe the only response is a forward, retweet, or similar. Thank you for that micro-dose of dopamine.

But –

Sometimes it’s the guy who disagrees and wants to tell you how he heard all the coral came back and we really have a global cooling problem. Just stop. Probably not worth the sound waves of conversation.

Sometimes it’s the one who wants to tell you these are all 100% natural cycles and not “mans doing“. Why is this a reasonable argument? If there’s a grenade going off in the room I’m in, and I have time to run – do I care who pulled the pin?

Sometimes it’s the one where “not all scientists agree“, for which one can find a variety of differing opinions, and yet in general, it does seem there are fewer and fewer exceptions. Perhaps an analogy can help us here. Let’s say you are driving your family across the country in your smoky ancient Volvo on the way to Wally World and come across a large group of people waving you down. Most of them (say, 97) tell you that a local militia planted a minefield down that way – you absolutely should take another road or you and your kids are probably going to die. However 3 of them say they’ve been down that road and there’s no mines. They can feel it in their gut! They know it! They try to convince you all these crazy people are just trying to trick you because…well they’ve no idea why, because there’s no real incentive. To whom do you listen? After all, it will be an inconvenience to believe those 97 adamant folks and find another route.

Sometimes it’s the one where “other countries are doing it too”. China (or India or…) put out XX tons of CO2 a year! I thought we learned in grade school (and maybe even church?) that two wrongs don’t make a right?

Blame is the Game

And how about the one who just shrugs and says if humans are committed to ending humanity so be it? We’ll get what’s coming to us…nature will take care of itself. Apathy is just another form of fear. Fear of feeling the pain and sadness of loss. Who wouldn’t want to tune out being a part of species extinction across the globe? Pretending you are somehow elevated above this because of your long-view is rationalized denial.

Lastly, most dangerously, we have those who simply agree vehemently that all we are seeing, fire, flood, wind is perhaps real, and perhaps a problem. These are our echo chamber, and we should take great comfort that there seem to be many. Comfort, but not complacence. We must break out of the echo chamber, and keep broadcasting the message that status quo is death. Change in a community, a society, a government, doesn’t come by chatting with only those who agree.

This message cannot just be online. It’s a simple way to be loud – to those with whom you are connected, and likely then, to those generally which think like you.

As uncomfortable as it sounds, real human connection and conversation are how we take our power back.

More Than Our (Social) Network

Our social world is our network. Always has been. “Tribal” was a kind of network, and it still is. Rolodex was a kind of network, and no longer is. It has been replaced by digital integrations. 

We still have Tribes but in some cases they have reshaped around whatever creates the most “engagement”, as measured by profit from those providing the algorithms to ‘show us what we want’. 

It was never supposed be the case.  While I don’t believe that it was ever unbiased, at one time the masses listened to the same voices at the national level, and at the local level, voices representing their region. That is now broken for many. In part due to unavailability of truly ‘local’ news, and in part due to the faction-oriented (think cnn, fox) spin introduced by the replacements.  So we’re all hearing a different message, one that resonates with us and those who ‘think like us’. 

Is it any surprise that the systems that ‘give us what we want’ match us up with people who ‘think like us’?

The dangers of “group think” are well documented. Though if you use that link I can’t guarantee what you’ll see, because what you’ll see is biased to what it thinks you want, unless you are in “private mode” and in a region similar to where this is being typed.

So how do we get away from group think? I’d say stop reading social media, but that is just part of it. I’d say stop watching your mobile news feed (be it google news, apple news, or pretty much anything else!) but that is just part of it.  I’d say stop watching the TV news…but that’s is just part of it.

All of the options I listed, that most of us are consuming, are financed by biased opinions, either for or against certain key political issues. In other words, the richest finding ways through sprawling unbelievable influence chains to put their ideas in our heads – or stop ideas from coming to us.

Or maybe you are the big social media user “I get my news through Facebook” type. That’s even more filtered, still highly influenced by ad dollars but also fine tuned to the things that inflame you because anger is the strongest attractor and retainer of the user. That’s what the ad buyers like.

You know what is missing? What can’t be bought? Honest, critical thought in conversation. Heated? Sure. Angry? Sometimes. It is unfortunate that so many of us, this author included, dislike having conversations about political things and the like. Perhaps this is why it is generally seen as impolite to discuss in all but the smallest of gatherings. Or the largest such as rallies of already-like-minded constituents.

Of course we ARE more than our social network. Yet I fear our social network is “just enough” for us to feel the barest need for connection has been met!  Too often we’d rather not work harder and have larger social interactions. It takes guts and faith to be an activist.  It takes guts, grit, vision and confidence to be a concerned citizen willing to sit and listen to the merits, not the emotions of arguments; to decide and follow through on action.  This level of nuance is nearly always lost in social media posts and feeds.

“The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. …  How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!”

Autobiographical dictation, 2 December 1906. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2 (University of California Press, 2013)