Rethinking success in an age of extinction

Wealth inequality is hitting historic highs, at levels not seen since the Great Depression.

Inequality is growing within rich countries -- the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the middle class is evaporating.

Inequality is also growing between countries. In fact, climate change promises to foist terrible destruction on poor countries in the Global South; countries, that have had little or practically nothing to do with the environmental changes that will soon make their territories uninhabitable.

In the midst of all this, it becomes impossible to stay silent on a toxic culture that celebrates wealth acquisition at all costs; that makes heroes out of those who have figured the most efficient ways to hoard resources, or to simply take them with a shoddy veneer of legitimacy.

I reject wealth acquisition as the sole measure of any person. Success means more than simply being rich.

Here is what success means in the age of extinction:

Success means helping others. The great teaching of climate change is that we are not atoms bouncing off of each other. Humanity will only survive the next 100 years by cooperating together.

We will need to help each other out. We will need to look out for our friends, family, fellow citizens, fellow members of the species.

Success means taking steps to stabilize the climate. Two or three degrees of warming is a nightmare scenario. Social systems will collapse, whole countries will perish. Success in this environment means working to help stabilize the climate. We can no longer engage in conduct, particularly in our professional lives, that will worsen what the future will look like.

Success means doing what you can to stop the Sixth Great Extinction. Life on Earth is out of balance, and we are living in an extinction event. Success must mean doing what we can to act as preservers of life on Earth.

I don’t care about your wealth, your stock portfolio, or the size of your carried interest. If you are not helping to heal the Earth at this strange time, then you are not really living your life; and you will not die a good death.