The world and everyone on it are headed towards a "flash point," said Luis Salaveria, director of Hawaii's department of business, economic development and tourism, at VERGE Hawaii 2017.
That includes communities, businesses and governments that have both benefited from modern advancements in agriculture, medicine and science and contributed to the environmental crises facing the planet.
"We spent a great part of human existence getting to a point where technology and innovation co-exist to allow for the population to grow," said Salaveria. Yet, he said, we convert our energy in the same way that we've been doing it since the human population was half the size it is today.
If the pace of growth remains unchecked, along with our procurement of energy and resources, we will fall victim to "the tragedy of the commons" — and there is no greater tragedy than to lose our common home.
Where there is a will, however, there is a way to innovate the technology and policies that will ensure a thriving, healthy future. What does it take for businesses to send the right signals to move policymakers and leaders towards a modernized grid?
"Approach the state with goals in mind" and the government will be your biggest advocate for sustainability policy, Salaveria said.
We can't afford failure, and the good news is it's not too late.
"The opposite of tragedy is fortune and the aversion of tragedy is success," said Salaveria. "In the context of sustainability, fortune and success are absolutes."