How a FRENZY can be our guide for positive change.

Apr 08, 2019

Rockström, Rosling and Godin give us good reason .... 

Thankfully, there is an abundance of optimistic examples of positive global shifts to keep us inspired to search for and take action towards a sustainable future. To enable us to see it, we need a Rosling-like reflection of big data, a Godin-like frenzy and a good sense of review on great shifts we already saw happen.


A good sense of review on great shifts we already saw happen.

Table 5 in the (Willett, Rockström et al. 2019) lists key changes over the last century from HIV/AIDS to tobacco controls where science illustrated damaging results and social action was taken. The authors called this table ‘Reasons to be Cheerful of systems change and systems action’ and is certainly a welcome reasoning for those working on goals for the future.


Table 5 in the (Willett, Rockström et al. 2019)


Big Data showing us we have something to celebrate

Clearly keeping positive change in mind is key, and Hans Rosling’s Factfulness book[1] which was published last year is another contribution to keeping the chin high. Rosling demonstrated with publicly accessible world facts on how the world has inched along to be less poor, more healthy and less dangerous than it once was. A fantastic contribution to critical thought is Rosling’s simple 10 rules of thumb [2]and the request to consider data when we see it in context to what it wants us to see. Personally, I love his #7.


Well, maybe it takes a frenzy

Some might call change a frenzy, which is what Seth Godin did this weekend in his blog[3].


‘There was an outcry when they banned cigarettes from bars in New York. The restaurant owners were certain that disaster was imminent.

And there was panic when we began to switch to LED bulbs, with concerned citizens and opportunistic politicians proclaiming that it was the end of civilization as we know it.

And when law firms started offering women partnerships…

And when seat belts were required in cars…

And when the building codes required fire exits and accessibility ramps…

And when work rules required more training and more rest for pilots and airline crews…

And when doctors were required to wash their hands before and after delivering a baby…

Change isn’t always guaranteed to work, but change often brings the frenzy.’

Seth Godin blog April 6, 2019


That last sentence got me by the throat when I read it. When I hear the IPCC call for significant and urgent action IPCC Report (IPCC 2014) and reflect on the #FridaysForFuture marches around the world.


To create this ‘sense of urgency’ required to make deep and impactful changes to our economic and consum-ing behaviours, we need to keep in mind the EAT Lancet’s positive examples of the past where we took action and in a frenzy, actually made the changes required.


What are your thoughts?



Recommended Reading and References:

  • 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. R. K. P. a. L. A. Meyer. Geneva, IPCC:
  • Willett, W., J. Rockström, B. Loken, M. Springmann, T. Lang, S. Vermeulen, T. Garnett, D. Tilman, F. Declerck, A. Wood, M. Jonell, M. Clark, L. J. Gordon, J. Fanzo, C. Hawkes, R. Zurayk, J. A. Rivera, W. De Vries, L. Majele Sibanda, A. Afshin, A. Chaudhary, M. Herrero, R. Agustina, F. Branca, A. Lartey, S. Fan, B. Crona, E. Fox, V. Bignet, M. Troell, T. Lindahl, S. Singh, S. E. Cornell, K. Srinath Reddy, S. Narain, S. Nishtar and C. J. L. Murray (2019). "Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems." The Lancet 393(10170): 447-492.



[1] Hans Rosling Factfulness Book

[2] Hans Rosling’s 10 rules of thumb

[3] Seth Godin’s blog