Opinion - October 20, 2021

My new book - " Réaliste - soyons logiques autant qu’écologiques "

Written by Bertrand Piccard 4 min read

My new book, "Réaliste", comes out today (in french only at the moment) published by Éditions Stock. It brings together my thoughts as a psychiatrist and explorer that aims to restore hope and get out of the dilemma between those who advocate for degrowth to protect the environment and those who believe that unlimited growth is the only way to make our society work. 200 pages where I share my vision with all those who are ready to question their certainties to secure the future of humanity.

The problems are known. What we now need are solutions. With my training as a psychiatrist, I know we cannot change human nature. I am convinced the climate battle won't be won by asking people to forgo modern comforts. Moreover, negative economic growth to save the planet, as some suggest, would lead to a collapse of our social system. In contrast, our society of waste and inefficiency threatens the very survival of humanity. We must therefore change our way of approaching human nature, reverse the discourse and propose another logic: that of an economically profitable ecology. But we must also awaken enthusiasm and bring the population, environmentalists, companies and governments in a climate action where everyone will find something in it for them. Replacing what pollutes by what protects the environment is an opportunity to be seized and represents the industrial market of the century. To show that this vision is not just wishful thinking, but a concrete reality integrating all stakeholders, we have identified, with the Solar Impulse Foundation, more than 1,300 clean, efficient solutions capable of creating wealth and jobs. They are proof that a new scenario is possible.

I therefore invite you to change altitude and approach environmental protection in a different way. From the childhood memories that forged my ecological sensitivity to my work today as a "climate psychiatrist", I would like to share with you my commitment to "realistic" action. You will find the foundations of a third way, "qualitative growth", reconciling ecology and economy.

No need to be pessimistic, or even optimistic, let's just be realistic: a unifying approach that lives up to the very high stakes hanging over the future of our planet. 

A book to help you find your way around the current debates!

Buy the book

The book is available in french only in bookshops from October 20, 2021.

The copyright will be transferred to the Solar Impulse Foundation, a public utility organization working to accelerate the implementation of clean technologies.

Extracts from the book:

“If we can save energy on a large scale, dramatically reduce waste of raw materials and production of waste, all in a financially profitable way, is advocating degrowth still necessary? Philosophically yes, that is understandable. Instilling sobriety in a world that is drowning in its excesses makes a lot of sense. Becoming less materialistic and bring people back to the fore, too. I would be in favor of it if I saw it as a possibility. But what do you do once you've said it? Because humans are also beings in search of work, leisure, comfort. So, is this really desirable? Is it even realistic? ”

I consider so-called unlimited growth a dangerous aberration and degrowth a philosophy without psychology, in the sense that it ignores human nature. Neither of the two, in my view, offer a realistic path to avert the disaster we are preparing. If neither of the two paths meet our needs, we must break through any conventional divides and find a third path. This is what I call qualitative growth. "

“It is therefore essential to choose a third path, that which I call qualitative growth, in which the creation of wealth is stimulated by all ways possible to reduce waste and inefficiency. Because we cannot reason on of growth or decrease in black or white terms. You have to let some things grow - income, wages, education, health, efficiency - and others decrease - waste, inefficiency and excess. "

"Why deny the poorest of the prospects of comfort when we can continue to increase value creation the creation of value through solutions compatible with environmental imperatives? It is a duty to do so, since it has become possible "

“This is economic growth, but focused on the environment rather than consumption.”

Written by Bertrand Piccard on October 20, 2021

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