Honored to be invited to join the IOES (UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability) Hollywood for Science Gala this Oscar weekend at the glorious home of Tony and Jeanne Pritzker. Thank you, Milutin Gatsby, Laurence Bender, Alexandria Jackson, and Daniel Weiss for hosting a brilliant event that brought attention to the most important narrative of our time in human history- climate change.

Indeed, as Rupert’s jarring, fast-paced climate change film demonstrated — around the world we are witnessing the most extraordinary, exponential ramp up of extreme weather events and abnormal climate change in human history. And, as Peter Kareiva (Director, UCLA’s IOES) sharp words reflected… “this is a holy shit” moment.

As I’ve recently written in my Globalization 4.0 Series (Part I& II-posted; Part II & Part IV, coming) reflections on climate change& a new deal for nature (Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum), we are in checkmate with Nature … and our next move matters.  If we want to win this game, then as Christiana Figures— former UNFCCC Executive Secretary stresses, we have to turn the page in our narrative on climate change— get passionate and excited and move quickly on the opportunity to evolve our businesses and lifestyles at the speed and scale now necessary to de-carbonization our planet in the next decade. We have the roadmap. We know what we need to do to: invest in public infrastructure, develop zero-waste-carbon neutral (or NET-negative emissions) smart cities (that function like an ecosystem), accelerate renewables, evolve battery storage, ramp up energy efficiency, modernize transportation,

Rauschenberg The 1/4 Mile LACMA

We have to do it now. We have to do fast. We have to do it all at the same time. We have to do it in a coordinated way and on an exponential hockey-stick trajectory. It’s the impossible Joe Campbell hero’s journey—the bones of many Hollywood films… all over again. It’s an epic tale-complete with mentors, obstacles, villains, trials, deception, opportunity, fear, honor, trust… and treasures on the other side of change when we reach our carbon neutral, new economy future destination.

Giselle, Barbra, Lauryn Hill, Tom Brady’s Parents- Galynn and Tom Sr. Brady

We have to believe in ourselves and in humanity to step up in our personal lives, in our professional endeavors, and in our communities… to be the heroes of today we’ve been waiting for. Turning off lights, recycling plastic, and occasionally taking public transport is simply window-dressing in a much deeper, more profound human+nature narrative…  Disruptive, regenerative, transformative change is now necessary. And this requires a much more profound change— a shift in our mental models-our view of the world-our perspective on nature, our biases toward one another, and ultimately a positive arc in character… that leads us to a new sustainable, socially equitable, peaceful world. We need to visualize more and more, and in many ways the architectural design of that world to realize it in reality (not just virtual reality).

Rauschenberg The 1/4 Mile, LACMA

We have to believe we were born at this moment in history for this moment in history— to transform, to be the change agents, global shapers, future makers, heroes of the century- who save nature and save humanity from itself. And, we can’t just talk about it; write about it; observe it; analyze it; strategize around it…we have to live it. How? Here’s one good guide- The Exponential Climate Action Roadmap.

We are the first generation to witness human-caused climate change and the unraveling of the ecosystems in our biosphere… and the last to transform our lifestyles and world cultures to course correct, protecting the stable Holocene climate (Garden of Eden) we have enjoyed and where life has thrived for 70,000 years.

Rauschenberg The 1/4 Mile, LACMA

If we want to continue to flourish together in Earth’s Garden of EdenOur Planet, then we need to increase our investment in regenerating the natural capital of our planet…and we need robust, science-based strategies — like the natural sea breaks, ecosystem-level regeneration of intense fire-affected areas, microbe-enhanced food production, algae-based biofuels, and human-crafted, naturally-regenerating coral reef structures that sink carbon… implemented in highest-risk affected areas, and scaled rapidly. These are the kinds of research-climate solutions ventures top university like UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability, are pursuing.

And, the good news is that 1000’s of other initiatives, research programs, and entrepreneurial ventures in the direction of transformative climate adaptation and mitigation programs exist all over the world.

Everyone is important and necessary in this new future we are shaping— entrepreneurs, scientists, policy leaders, corporate executives, community leaders, considerate neighbors, creative artists, designers, architects, engineers…to take vision to action in service of people and planet.

So, thank you, to all the celebrities, advisors, and event chairs for the IOES program, especially Giselle Bunchen and Barbra Streisand, whom we honored at the Hollywood for Science Gala, for using your platform and star-power to reel more people into this active community for climate change.

Thank you, Giselle Bunchen, for all your work with UNEP- the UN’s Environmental Program to draw attention to deforestation, land, water issues in Brazil, Kenya, and the US. Thank you, Barbra Streisand, for all your philanthropic work on climate change– investing in the Clinton Global Initiative’s Climate & Policy track, advocating for the Paris Agreement, and inspiring all to live conscious, honest lives. You both stand for truth and justice and integrity of character… thank you.

Barbra Streisand, Hollywood for Science & Oscars 2019

Barbra, you were the perfect pick to introduce Spike Lee’s Black Panther at the Oscar awards… and your recent “Don’t Lie to Me” song on your new album Walls; that you dedicated to the millions of young people, finding their collective voice nails the people’s narrative to the Wall.

We need a Naturally Intelligent New Deal for Nature– one where our deal points are nature-inspired, informed by our native cultural roots and respect, and intuitively honest. Giselle, all you represent in health, wellness, family, and spirit… models humanity’s right relationship to nature.

We need a new climate, nature, and action narrative… and in this new narrative we all now have the moral responsibility to show up as our best selves— climate-nature heroes during these transformative times.

Catherine Cunningham and Natural Intelligence Media is committed to awakening Natural Intelligence in the World. We produce multimedia content — books, films, and podcasts aiming to inspire you to live a happy, healthy, nature-conscious life.

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  • Catherine Cunningham, PhD

    Mission Possible: Awaken Natural Intelligence in Our World

    Natural Intelligence

    Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD is an ecologist, anthropologist, writer, filmmaker, and media host producing films, interactive experiences, and online multimedia for international clients who are focused on positive economic, social, and environmental win-win-win solutions to global conservation and climate change.

    Catherine has travelled, written, photographed, and filmed in 70 countries, producing creative films and music videos in support the UN Global Goals and the human+nature planetary health narrative. Visit Natural Intelligence.com to see where her work has premiered internationally. Over 20 years, she has interviewed hundreds of global thought leaders to promote sustainable solutions to climate change and conservation in creative ways. Catherine has written numerous articles on climate change, nature, and regeneration. She’s currently writing two books: “Naturally Intelligent by Design” — a fine art science and culture book for families and “Natural Intelligence”— a guidebook for well-navigating a post COVID-19 world by following nature’s principles. Partnering with Eurovision News and Events, Catherine is also an independent media host— producing content on nature, climate, and regeneration; syndicated globally by EuroVision’s News Direct. She is a regular contributor to Thrive Global and Medium. She currently produces communications for the Prince Albert II Foundation and participates in programming @ the World Economic Forum on Climate Change, Nature, and Biodiversity. As an university educator, Catherine taught undergraduate and masters courses in corporate sustainability communications at Arizona State University; global sustainability at Chapman University; biology, ecology, botany, and environmental science at Denver State College and Front Range College. In 2016, she designed one of the first university courses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also online), contributing to youth action on the UN Global Goals. She also created a post-graduate program with UNESCO on the MAB (Man the Biosphere) reserves. Catherine earned her PhD in Ecosystem Science at ETHZ in Switzerland, studying climate impacts on mountain ecosystems. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Cultural Anthropology and International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters degree from Utah State in Ecology. Catherine speaks fluent English and conversational Italian. She loves creative collaboration, media production, mountaineering, outdoor sports, yoga, wellness, and travel.