SUSTAINABILITY: Confusion reigns over “obvious solution”

NO ONE in the mainstream is talking about the OBVIOUS solution!

60Minutes LogoLast night, I watched the 60 Minutes segment on the billionaires’ “Giving Pledge” that aired last year. Not a single one of them said one word about the obvious solution to water scarcity or climate change—arguably the two most serious issues in the history of humankind.

With Charlie Rose moderating, they talked about dozens of worthy causes, yet not a single one of those initiatives will contribute significantly to our most serious problem—the sustainability of our civilization and, ultimately, our species. On the contrary, there was a lot of joking around and laughter as they each seized opportunities to offer up their “spin” on the challenge of giving away billions of dollars.

3-minute portion of that 60-Minutes segment (Nov. 2013)

Another leader speaks out. Last week, there was an article featuring the chairman of the largest food company in the world, Nestle. He makes a good point, people don’t seem to be paying much attention to the water crisis, which he says is more urgent than climate change. Nestlé warns water scarcity ‘more urgent’ than climate change. But he doesn’t mention how easily that water problem could be solved, while solving climate change at the same time. From the article:

Mr. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

Mr. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

“Today, you cannot have a political discussion anywhere without talking about climate change,”Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck told the Financial Times in an interview. “Nobody talks about the water situation in this sense. And this water problem is much more urgent.

“I am not saying climate change is not important. What I am saying is even without climate change we are running out of water and I think this has to become the first priority,” he said, adding that global warming got more attention because it had “better ambassadors” such as Nobel Prize-winning scientists and Hollywood film makers.

I featured him in one of my 2011 blogs. World hunger, energy, water — and the “obvious” solution. Although he mentioned the gross inefficiencies of our meat-based diet, he never mentioned the OBVIOUS solution. But he did make this point that verifies that he knows about the gross inefficiencies of animal-based foods:

“The demand for meat,” he says, “has a multiplier effect of 10. You need 10 times as much land, 10 times as much [feed], 10 times as much water to produce one calorie of meat as you do to have one calorie of vegetables or grain.”

Jeffrey SachsThen there’s Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. As one of the most widely acclaimed environmentalists of our time, you’d think that he might occasionally mention our food choices as being a great opportunity for curbing climate change or water scarcity. NOT!

In a 7-2-14 article on Climate Change in the Huffington Post, he talks about the 2 degree Celsius limit, yet makes NO MENTION whatsoever of food choices. Rather, he talks about the prospect of all nations working independently to burn less fossil fuels.

Sorry, Jeffrey, but that’s just not going to work. It hasn’t worked for twenty-two consecutive years, what makes you think it’s going to work now? From his article.

The 2-degrees C limit was adopted by all governments in 2010. Since then emissions have kept on rising, and we are running out of time to stay within 2-degres. More precisely, we are running out of our planet’s carbon budget, that is, the amount of carbon we can burn and still remain below 2-degrees C. In just a few years we’ll lose the remaining chance to keep the Earth’s temperature below the 2-degree C limit.

Yet, we can still succeed — if all major economies of the world begin to take strong and consistent actions to decarbonize their national energy systems in three main ways: shifting to low-carbon electricity; moving from fossil fuels to electricity in vehicles and buildings; and massive gains of energy efficiency.

A fourth main global pillar is to shift from deforestation to reforestation and to reduce emissions from agriculture. These transformations are deep, but they are feasible and will not only protect the climate but also boost prosperity if we apply our efforts and ingenuity to the effort.

Hey Jeffrey, to shift to reforestation, you first have to free up land and stop grabbing 30 million acres of rainforest each year so that we can produce more meat.

J. Morris Hicks, always trying to focus on the big picture.

J. Morris Hicks, focusing on the “obvious solution” and searching for that one powerful leader that can make it happen.

The bottom line. Our mainstream leaders are missing the obvious solution. And it’s due to a combination of MONEY, ignorance and popularity. Consider that NONE of our large environmental organizations (Sierra, Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, etc.) are talking about the leading cause of global warming.

Why not? As Michael Pollan says in the new documentary, Cowspiracy, “it would hurt their fund raising.”

Since NO ONE in the mainstream is mentioning or working on the OBVIOUS solution, I have made that my primary mission—to search for that one powerful leader. We need a globally recognized person with an open mind—coupled with a reputation for integrity and care for the environment.

Once we find that leader, we can then work on helping him/her grasp the “blinding flash of the obvious” that I’ve been talking about for a decade now: “We’re eating the wrong food!” As a corporate headhunter, my new one-pager is a tool that I will use often in that search.

One-Page Recipe for Saving our Ecosystem

Earlier blogs on this topic:

The following five books and one DVD can be purchased on Amazon for a grand total of less than $60—and will enable you to understand the overwhelming challenges we face—along with the single most-powerful solution of all.

Six-Pack from Hicks—for health, hope & harmony on planet Earth

  1. Healthy Eating, Healthy WorldThe “big picture” about food (our book)
  2. A life changer for millions, including James Cameron. Forks Over Knives DVD 
  3. An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell; the primary book that influenced Bill Clinton to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet.
  4. What have we done to our planet? Full Planet, Empty Plates by Lester Brown
  5. A horrifying wake-up call for leaders. TEN BILLION by Dr. Stephen Emmott
  6. Food choices are the primary cause of our environmental problems, yet our world leaders, scientists & experts are Comfortably Unawareby Richard Oppenlander.

Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes 2 or 3 minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, visit our 4Leaf page and also enjoy some great recipes from Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen. Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member since 2012; click banner for more info:

Nutrition Certificate

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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2 Responses to SUSTAINABILITY: Confusion reigns over “obvious solution”

  1. Jim, you mention Nestle and it’s CEO talking about water shortages and then last week I read on Twitter that Nestle is mining California water to bottle. I never checked to see if this is true. But my point is Nestle, like all multinationals, is in business to make a profit. If that means hurting the environment so what.

    I think real change will come not from billionaires but from the grassroots.

  2. Sal Liggieri says:


    Still looking for that one leader to change the world? I still say why would anyone listen to this leader or his message.

    Just spend an hour in any fast food restaurant and tell me that people would be receptive to any message about saving the world. We who did get the message are delusional in thinking we can change the world. Change will have to be forced on mankind by a pandemic calamity and even then I doubt that the potato will ever become a hamburger.

    But there is a bright side, the animals of the world would celebrate.

    Sal Liggieri

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