In “The Great Disruption”, author Paul Gilding confesses a rather sobering reality. Environmentalists like him have been unsuccessful convincing us to respond to the challenge that “we have passed the limits of our planet’s capacity” to support us. They have been telling us for years – the book notes a cranberries ban in 1959 – that we cannot keep doing what we are doing. Could this be the greatest communications challenge that no one has solved?

Ample negative buzz affirms that we have not risen to the challenge, but progress across industries, regions and communities is significant.

Momentum in Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI) is a great example. Per Thomson Reuters Nelson and the US SIF Foundation, SRI reached $3.74 trillion in Assets Under Management (AUM) in the U.S., outpacing growth of broad-based AUM from 1995 to 2012 by an estimated 29.2%. Within that trend is the dramatic rise in investment funds that incorporate Environmental, Social and Governance factors (ESG). Total net assets in ESG funds grew from $12 billion to $1.01 trillion during that same time period.US SIF ESG Investing Trend

Still, we have a lot of work to do. Our biggest challenge may be the 24/7 news cycle and fascination with bad news. The unintended consequence: we are showered with negative reinforcement. I have always thought that positive reinforcement is the best way to inspire change. Should we not start there?

© 2014. Sources: US SIF Foundation, Paul Gilding.