The Gloaming

It's the eve before I fly to DC and I just finished reading the 2009 Transatlantic Trends report from the GMF. The good news: the U.S. brand is improving in favor. The bad news: not by much.

Why is that bad? It probably wasn't bad 100 years ago before technology unified the world. But now we live in a codependent age when each country's actions can no longer be considered independent. Our economies depend on each other. Our welfare depends on each other. Even my apple juice is homogenized from seven different countries!

I'm stepping into awareness with a deer in the headlights look. I consider how hard it is for our own Congress, representing 50 states, to agree to agree. At least we all speak the same language and have the same fundamental culture. Imagine the same scenario, but each state is a separate country with unique languages, cultures and histories. That's the EU. Now imagine our own disagreements meeting their disagreements and hoping for an amicable resolution.

One of the sections in Transatlantic Trends sizes up EU and American interests in climate change. I was surprised at the the survey results. Portugese showed the most concern with 62% being very concerned. The Netherlands came in lowest at 23%. The U.S. was 40%. Of these respondents, EU countries were more adamant that effective change would only come about through international cooperation (81%) versus one out of every two U.S. respondents that felt the same. I wonder if this is because we still tend to think of ourselves as independent rather than dependent? More telling was the attitude toward economic growth versus climate change. Two out of three Europeans (69%) were willing to slow growth for a better environmental state while majority of Americans (43%) were not.

Yesterday IDEO launched a web site called "Living Climate Change" as a preamble to COP15, the UN Climate Change Conference being held in Copenhagen this December. We asked each studio to create a short film envisioning the world 20 years from now if carbon emissions were reduced or increased. Twenty years isn't that far away so it's no George Jetson or Blade Runner scenario. Imagine yourself with pegged jeans in 1989 and you'll understand what I mean. Over the next few months we'll continue to add new films and content to the site, hoping to create richer dialogue about the challenges ahead.

Rich dialogue is what I'm hoping for on this trip. I'm not well-versed in politics. I've not affiliated with a political party. I believe that people are more important than ideologies and I hope we can find a way to build empathy for one another rather than walls.