The Power of the One Degree Shift

Stacy VereenBlog

view of clouds from a passenger jetliner window

It doesn’t always require large solutions to solve large problems. Sometimes lots of little solutions will do the trick.

The One in 60 Rule

The success of a commercial airline flight to get from one location to another is dependent on the aircraft’s ability to stay on a carefully plotted course. If a pilot makes the slightest one-degree error in his aircraft’s flight path, after traveling one mile he will be off course by 92 feet. And after traveling 60 miles, that error adds up to being a mile off course.

If he were flying from New York to L.A. a one degree shift could put him in, not Los Angeles, but Irvine, more than 40 miles to the south.

What’s this got to do with rivers?

The One in 60 Rule example shows us that a single, tiny shift of one degree can lead to a much bigger outcome over time. While pilots and navigators use this rule as a way to chart their course and to prevent that small one degree shift, anyone wanting to make a positive change in their life can do so by flipping the scenario and intentionally making a one degree shift.

If you make a small, positive shift in your behavior, can that lead to big results too? You bet.

And this answers a question that gets asked a lot:

What impact, if a any, can I make?

Chart showing airplane flight path using One in Sixty rule

One person. One degree shift.

When it comes to things like solving environmental problems like clean streams, can one person make a difference?

So often do we think large environment problems because of their complexity require large solutions, solutions that are bigger than “me”. When you believe we won’t contribute to the solution; when we think our little part won’t matter, we end up doing nothing.

Perhaps we think someone will come along and invent a new billion dollar contraption to remove all the plastic from our waterways and oceans. Or perhaps Congress will institute new regulations to prevent x, y and z from polluting our streams.

Those are nice ideas. But waiting on solutions that may never show up prolongs the inevitable: it is going to take behavioral shifts from me and you to bring lasting results.

By taking a one degree shift you can achieve big things. Yes, just you!

For example, a mom who decides to use cloth diapers for her two infants instead of disposable ones—which take an estimated 500 years to degrade. This may seem like an insignificant choice but in reality it will keep roughly 4000 diapers out of the ground in a single year.

If we each do a little, we can achieve a lot.

And when two, three, 50, 300, 1000 people make this tiny shift, the combined result can be staggering. A thousand moms using cloth will keep 4 million diapers out of landfills each year.

Nashvillians and a One Degree Shift

When we take this example and apply it to Nashville’s waterways we can do amazing things including:

  • Reducing the amount of household chemicals that contaminate our streams simply by disposing of them properly.
  • Minimizing the amount of harmful pathogens in our water just by picking up and disposing of our dog’s waste properly.
  • Reduce flooding by planting a tree in our yard that will help store water.
  • Volunteer for a stream clean up and help our rivers be free of debris
  • Conserve rainwater to use for plants by installing a rain barrel.

Just one degree…

If we each do a little, we can achieve a lot. And the Rivive! One Degree Pledge was created to help us do just that. It is meant to challenge you to make that tiny shift. From volunteering at one of our organizations’ event or planting a tree to properly maintaining your lawn so that it promotes healthy streams in your neighborhood, your one degree contribution can make a huge impact on keeping Nashville’s streams and water clean.

We ask you to take the pledge today!

Pledge Now