Imagine; next Monday, a fresh-faced CEO announces something thrilling. He (it’s always a “he”) promises a product so transformative, so powerful, that it’ll affect everyone.
Overnight, the world’s population is sold. All 7 billion of us. And for awhile, the promises come true—inordinate amounts of progress are enabled. We bake the product into everything we do.
By Wednesday, questions emerge. Troubling side effects slowly surface, unforeseen by an over-eager public. By evening, scientists show that continued use of the product may produce massive, life-changing impacts. By midnight, political and religious leaders call it the defining issue of a generation.
Thursday brings a press conference, but there’s no product recall—the companies (there are many now) couldn’t undo their damage if they wanted to. Cover-ups ensue; industry-funded pundits appear on national news, trying to discredit the science; politicians exploit that seed of doubt to justify their own inaction. The startup, once so optimistic, cynically and surreptitiously opposes all private and public sector attempts at a solution.
How would you feel on Friday? You would feel guilty or conflicted about your own purchases, sure. But you’d also feel angry. Angry that such a situation could occur. Angry that solutions exist but those with power aren’t acting. And scared—scared about the consequences of a system that’s knowingly, uncontrollably, poisoning itself.