We should all be fed up! Or as the oft-quoted Hollywood line goes: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!”

Here’s why:

Alan Tratner

Alan Tratner

A very successful entrepreneur, who is very involved in community and charities as well as being a founder of the international Women’s Festivals, said recently that “if you listen to all the media, you’d think it was the ‘Fall of Rome’ all over again.”

Over the past three months I have been asked to speak at some major business, financing and Going Green conferences throughout Southern California, including at the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery. Three of the big ones were titled “Where’s the Money?” — certainly a bit prophetic. I also did about a dozen media interviews, with the reporters or hosts having me address the “recession/depression,” the general economy, the energy crisis, job loss and business failings — all from my perspective as an innovation and green expert of sorts. The negativity and fear propagated from much of media, pundits, politicians and leaders — and folks who should know better — is deafening.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best when he declared, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Today, we will elect a president who will be the most powerful human on this planet. And world leaders have actually come together in a unique
fashion, economically, instigated by the the Wall Street financial crisis.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to create solutions that can lead humanity and this planet into a brighter era. It’s said that “We cannot predict the future,but we can invent it!”

The solution?

A global mission in every nation, and in everyone’s own self interest, to invent a sustainable economy, fueled by humankind’s incredible creativity and ingenuity, compassion and talents while embracing environmental entrepreneurship, innovation and a concerted drive to supply civilization with abundant, affordable, clean, renewable, safe energy resources and technologies. All of them create sustainable economies with a bio-based agricultural foundation: Transitional biofuels to help solve the fossil fuels mess, reuse of all “wastes,” and the creation of plastics and other industrial materials from crops.

Let the oil companies make the transition (with proper oversight) — and anyone else in free enterprise — to be the New Energy companies. A drive to instill conservation of all resources — that is not negative or does not lower standards of living but is very positive in creating jobs, maximizing productivity and raising the quality of life for everyone — will buy us time.

Global economists and studies indicate that there are trillions of dollars’ worth of opportunities to reinvent everything that is a cause of pollution, inefficiency, transportation and building issues. As an example, 2 million children die needlessly each year because of filthy water. Technology and enterprise can, with sound policies and cooperation, come to the rescue.

We can address problems like never before, crank up R&D and discovery, and use the great assets created by space exploration to solve many problems, create whole new green industries, develop natural medicines and tackle diseases and afflictions. Human lifespans can be extended. The fragile biosphere can be protected. All are economic opportunities .And the right things to do.

Ecology shows us a truth: interdependence. We have had a rude awakening as a result of the current economic mess. We humans are part of this and, as a civilization, interdependent.

And what about the elusive dream of peace? Get everyone involved in global enterprise. My infamous lectures contain these two cents’ worth: It is a really bad business practice
to harm — or worse, kill — your customers, clients and suppliers! Sustainable economic development means opportunity for all. Make everyone stakeholders with a vested economic interest in co-venturing, cooperatives, micro financing and affordable lending. If everyone is engaged in the self interest of making a living, supporting a family and striving for
happiness, there are fewer motives for conflict.

Regional solutions and opportunities are available. Losing your job, lost your job? Very sorry. Some stupidity in upper management and government and some true greed in financial
institutions, along with other factors like energy/oil impacts, contributed to the current situation. So become an enviro-entrepreneur instead! You can become your own boss and create your own economic destiny.

Can’t do it alone or don’t know how? Team up with others in the same situation and go to networking events. The Central Coast is blessed with a premier business mixer-networking gathering called Tech Brews. These events draw innovators, tech enterprises, entrepreneurs, business people and nonprofit organizations, all coming together to encourage sustainable economic development. There are lots of opportunities. Also many other groups participate, such as Catalyst, Green Drinks, The Sustainability Project, Green Building groups, Santa Barbara Young Professional Club, National Association of Women Business Owners, Women’s Economic Ventures, Community Environmental Council and SABER.

Resources abound to give you free, low-cost assistance: area chambers of commerce, business organizations, associations, free counseling and mentoring from the SCORE-Service Corps of Retired Executives, SBA Resources, community colleges, universities, adult ed, economic development agencies and free monthly entrepreneurship and inventing workshops. Private business consultants offer fee-based assistance, too.

Need some great ideas for products and services? The international headquarters for Inventors Workshop International, 40,000 creative geniuses from around world, is in Santa Barbara County and offers licensing, investing and co-venturing opportunities with thousands of patented or pending inventions in all fields … from toys and games, to foods and cosmetics, to industrial and consumer products — all ripe for greening and exploiting/commercializing.

Need a place to start a home-based or grow a small new business? Look into the conventional and nonprofit enterprise incubators, such as Santa Barbara’s Small Business Entrepreneurship Center, the Santa Maria Enterprise Center, Green2Gold incubators and Ventura’s new incubator, among other locations.

The national average for startups succeeding within business incubators — due to mentorships, access to capital and resources — is approaching 90 percent. Invest in yourself, invest in America and globally. Ninety percent of American businesses are called Small — they generate most of all new jobs, create wealth, contribute to charities, provide volunteers in
communities and pay taxes. What a club to join!

Bottom line: Let’s live in harmony with each other and with this precious life-sustaining planet. Everyone has rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. And to make a living or — better — sustainability.

So, is it to be disaster or Utopia? It’s up to us. We can invent the future.

Alan Tratner, a former environment and energy professor, is founder of Green2Gold.