Friday, 24 October 2008

Bruce Almighty

One of our favourite people at the moment is Bruce Parry. Not only have some of us harboured a healthy respect for him since the first series of Tribe, but last week he came to a book-signing session at one of our local bookshops, and since then, admittedly, that respect has become more of an unhealthy obsession.

In Bruce’s latest series, Amazon, he has travelled the length of the largest river in the world, living with shamans, cowboys, loggers, gold prospectors and conservationists.
His aim was to understand the importance of this great eco-system to the people who rely on it for survival, the impact of economic ‘development’ on the land and people, and the significance of their destruction to the rest of the world.

The Amazon is home to many of the world’s most precious commodities, such as gold, oil and timber, and naturally, there are many parties trying to capitalise on this wealth. In episode 5, Bruce and the team spend a few days with the LPA, a research group dedicated to understanding the interaction between the Amazon forest and the regional and global atmospheres. These scientists are trying to re-value the Amazon in a revolutionary way, as a carbon sink, in order to protect it from further destruction.

As awareness of climate change continues to build, we have begun to get used to the idea of trading in carbon. The Amazon rainforest could play a crucial role in the fight against climate change, if only we valued it properly.

Is it possible that we can change the things we do and do not consider valuable? It would require a global shift from coveting material possessions and wealth towards an emphasis on human life, the environment and a collective ambition to create a more sustainable world. According to research groups, that is exactly what is happening. Generation Y, those born between 1978 and 1998, already have a value system completely different from the generations before them. According to a study by workforce consultancy Talentsmoothie, this new generation of graduates ‘place more emphasis on quality of life than money, and are prepared to resign if their jobs are not fulfilling enough, with decent holidays and the opportunity to take long stretches off for charity work or travel’.

It remains to be seen whether this attitude can survive a recession, however, as awareness of global issues grows, surely our sense of global citizenship must grow too, and with that our desire to make a positive difference to the world.

And that is where people like our friend Bruce Parry come in, with the passion and the tools to inspire a generation of people about to make their mark on the business world of tomorrow.
As Bruce puts it, until we put more value on the things we take for granted – the environment, our cultural diversity, each other’s wellbeing – we will continue to destroy them.

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