The VIA strategy for climate solutions
A three-part plan for answering the question: what can I do to have a climate impact? Vote, Invest, and Adopt.
One of my mantras around climate solutions, as you know, is the “solutions” part, and my ruthless rejection of problem porn. By that, I mean the tendency to get mired in the size of the problem and, more importantly, to find excuses why you, a tiny bug on the windshield of the speeding SUV that is the climate crisis, cannot possibly have an impact all by your little dammie.1
Individual actions don’t matter, you say. It’s a collective problem. To which I often shriek (I really do shriek, it’s not my most endearing trait): “What do you think a collective is made up of!?”
A number of persons. A group of individuals.
To keep rolling with the water metaphor for all eternity, a drop becomes a flood. A bunch of people acting in a similar way turns into collective action. That. Is. You.
Do we need governments and big corporations to act? Of course. Do we need that nice new World Bank president to mobilize trillions of dollars to support developing countries in their efforts to survive the climate crisis? You bet. (Go, Ajay, go!)
And also: Do consumer pressures influence business decisions? Yes. Do voters control electoral outcomes? Mostly. (Sorry, ok, yes.) Slowly at first and then all at once change is made but not if people give up because the change is simply too hard. This is the refrain of every activist for all time, ever. Acting as an individual and telling your friends and family and employer and elected officials to act in the same way can actually effect change.
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And here’s the other good news. I am a strong believer in the Pareto Principle when it comes to these things—sometimes known as the 80-20 rule.
In venture capital, we’re fond of calling this the power law: the idea that a tiny fraction of successful companies make up for a huge number of failed startups.
Either way, my point is this: we don’t actually need 100% of people to adopt climate solutions and invest their money in sustainable goods and services. We need a solid tide of voters, investors, and early adopters to be the droplets, and pretty soon, you don’t have to convince someone to adopt climate solutions. They’ll just be the only solutions available. That’s how we get there. Way more doable, right?
Another part of my solutions matrix is naming things. The power of story. So today, I’m introducing the VIA Solution for Climate Impact.2 Fancy sounding, right? Here’s what it comes down to: