Hacking Planet Earth, a new book by Thomas Kostigen, will be released March 24th by TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group.

by Thomas M. Kostigen

Hacking Planet Earth shows us the world we are in for and what we can do about it with forward-thinking fixes. Fate cannot be left to chance any longer. We have to forge our own way ahead using the one faculty that separates us most from all other living things on Earth: our ability to think, to innovate—our ability to reason. It’s only our ability to reason with an increasingly hostile planet—made hostile by our own doing— that will allow us our future.

But this movement won’t work at the grassroots level. It is time to turn our collective attention toward supporting industry and encouraging the business community, scientists, and technologists—innovators!—to step up and do what they do best: invent, pioneer, disrupt the same old ways of doing things. Yes, industry, the sector of society responsible for much of human-caused global warming to begin with, has to turn things around and lead the charge to help mend our climate.

For decades, environmentalists have sounded the alarm about the effects of climate change. The plan was to foster demand by the public at large that would compel businesses to change their practices and, in turn, bring about socially positive climate policies and regulations. But that is a pinball game of a plan. It is based on environmental education that incites public action that in turn presses businesses to change and governments to adopt better policies. That plan has failed. We can still press the buttons and ring the bells, but we’ll never get the climate into livable shape before irreversible catastrophe. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we have only until 2030 to act before unprecedented changes in all aspects of society will occur. Visionaries have changed society quickly in previous eras. Climate change necessitates such expediency—now.

Henry Ford didn’t take surveys of horse owners and get consensus buy- in before he built automobiles. If he had tried, people would have thought him mad. Imagine him saying this: “It’s a machine, you see, with wheels. It will cost you a fortune and, by the way, you will need petroleum to run it. So, we’ll have to drill for that. And then we have to build roads on which to drive. The auto won’t go faster than the horse you are riding. And to make autos in mass quantity, we’ll have to build huge factories.” Nuts. A complete shift in society, urban planning, natural resource extraction, labor force, and infrastructure. But he did it. Bill Gates cut a similar path with the personal computer. Telephony has put phones in everyone’s hands. The Internet has connected us. Innovations and individuals forced the world to change—fast.

We need a radical disruption by engineers, investors, and visionaries to break us through the climate hold we are in.

Thomas Kostigen is a New York Times bestselling author and longtime journalist who contributes to numerous publications worldwide. His forthcoming book, Hacking Planet Earth, will be released March 24th by TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group.

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