Posts Tagged environment
Humans tend to assume that they have a degree of intelligence that gives them awareness that isnt afforded other species.
Criteria that are used to justify this perspective include lack of evidence of empathy, of emotions including fear and sadness, and of gratitude. Or an ability to assess a given context, and to calculate an appropriate response to it.
Every day, visible instances occur that prove these assumptions are just wrong. They imply an arrogance in humanity that is breathtaking. Other creatures are sufficiently sentient to respond to both circumstance and to other creatures as we are. How could they be alive otherwise?
Here’s a small example:
We have to reappraise our relationship with the rest of the world. To imagine that we’re somehow seperate from it is folly. The whole system that we observe and are able to analyse because its systemic, includes us as a key component. As it does every other creature. This is what makes it a system. How to extrapolate this? Discussions about ‘universal conciousness’? Perhaps. How is a component within a system able to see the system from outside? We can’t know this external perspective. We can only know what we see and experience, and deduce. And we can clearly experience sentience and awareness in other creatures, even with our own emotions and intuition, as opposed to powers of analysis. And deploying this experience usefully, must surely lead us to deduce that we arent a seperate cognitive function of the universe but just a part of a mathematical curve that, if we allow it, will extrapolate. And this is the ultimate goal of evolution.
So, some compassion and respect is called for I think… and a little humility. Otherwise we risk compromising the very system that defines us.
For the past ten years or more, I’ve pondered the state of humanity and the world we believe we’ve created, dependent as it is upon a natural environment that we continue to take for granted. I’ve looked at most issues – from antibiotic resistance to population growth via land use, deforestation and biodiversity reduction, economic inequity and excessive consumption, pollution and climate change. I’ve seen how all of these problems are interlinked and are interdependent. How all cause each other.
I’ve seen how our political and economic systems manage these issues as stovepipes, independent from one another. And I’ve seen how religious and political dogma work against the human ability to rationally assess contexts and solutions. How ignorant people are led by ego driven fools. And I’ve seen how our simple minded greed is driven by our selfishness.
In short, I’ve seen how our ignorance is driving our demise, as well as that of most other species, compounded by our stubborn stupidity and ego.
I believe that human civilisation, as we understand it to be, will be no more eighty five years from now. And that within four decades, we’ll be experiencing a sense of upheaval that will render most people’s lives unpleasant at best, untenable at worst.
That by the end of this century, humanity will comprise some ten percent of its current volume, some existing self sufficiently, growing their own food and living a simple life, whilst a minority contiue to try to utilise our knowledge to our advantage, but in doing so come to represent an elite that may have complete control over the rest. The ignorant will finally become subsumed, and the fate of humanity will rest with the ability of those with knowledge to resist becoming arrogant. Our final destiny lies with these people.
I don’t have much hope.
You achingly dark spangled depth.
How does my mysterious sparking
Of elemental syntheses
Mirror your endless
The qualitative universal components
That make my observations what they are.
So small are my thoughts.
Like splashing drops in an ocean wave
Crashing upon a shore,
Unrelenting in its logic.
The cigarette smoke world curls around me,
changing shape and fading away.
The present I see includes the past
as well as imagined futures.
The trees are bare now.
They had leaves and will have again.
The whorls and whirls of the wind
swirl remnants of the past year,
as beady squirrel eyes watch
the world move on.
Earth spins and moves and does its thing.
Fox and Owl make their noises in dark woods,
Jaguar prowls and Bat flits.
In some African savannah,
Kudu is eaten alive by lions.
Nearby, self obsessed termites
build webbed cities.
In the middle of this maelstrom
of whirling world things,
weather and wind and life passing,
I stand bewildered by the pace
and irresistible process
of which I’m a part with no control.
But mostly I’m amazed
by humanity’s contempt.
And I play my part,
and wait to see the consequences.
May my sons forgive us.
From my window I see cars
Parked like soldiers ranked
On black tarmac that in
Street light is silver,
Whilst the sky above
Has turned black from white.
I think I’ll go for a walkie-poo.
Actually it’s something I really must do.
And as I do my walkie-poo,
I’ll do a dance, just for you.
In the spangled sunshine.
Under the tree
With spread-eagled fingers.
I’ll kick the golden leaves
And see the flighty clouds spin overhead.
Whether the majority of us know it or not, humanity is undertaking massive genocide of hundreds (actually it’s thousands) of species of other creatures. We are proactively creating the Sixth Great Extinction, the last one being of the Dinosaurs. In doing so, we’re destroying the very biosphere that supports us. We are without doubt, unfathomably stupid.
The last Great extinction occurred 66 million years ago. And it took at least a thousand years, probably several thousand. If you map the lifetime of the Earth to a 24 hour clock, humanity has been around for about 4 seconds. In this blink of the planet’s eye, we’ve eliminated at least a third of the world’s forests and hundreds of thousands of species. If we’re so stupid as to commit collective suicide through religious and political dogmatism and ignorance, that’s our choice (and it is a choice). But we have no right to take every other species down with us.
And all this derives from our value systems. The way we perceive what wealth is, and how we manage it. Money. Particularly debt based money. And the externalisation (leave the consequences for someone else to clean up) of the bad impacts of wealth acquisition. The conventional political right and left both maintain these value systems, and many religious perspectives, especially in the US, support and advocate them under the guise of ephemeral supposed ethical standards like ‘freedom’ and ‘the work ethic’. How many corporate CEOs and bankers attend church every Sunday? Did you know that the pay of CEOs has risen 127 times faster over the last thirty years than 99% of the US population? What do you expect the consequences of such greed and inequity to be, particularly at a global scale, if not conflict? And as this money wealth is squirrelled away or squandered on yachts and stupidly big houses, it’s unavailable for such things as building cities that are worth living in for everyone, for education and the encouragement of more enlightened perspectives, the protection of the very biosphere that contains and supports us, and every other crying need that the fruits of all our labour is supposed to allow us to cater for. Yet the religious right encourage it.
Factor in other emerging crises like the impending failure of our medical systems through antibiotic resistance, shifting and more extreme climate events, ocean acidification and the consequent destruction of marine food resources, desertification and water shortage.. and a host of others, virtually all caused by humanity, and there’s good reason to believe the better minds than mine that predict global ecological, societal and economic collapse within just a few decades.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that global problems and issues are the result of human nature. A couple of years back, when the Somali pirates were frightening factory fishing trawlers away from the East African coast, indigenous local Kenyan fishermen suddenly found that they could catch enough fish to feed themselves, and have enough to sell again. Because the bloody foreign trawlers weren’t in there taking all the fish. Indigenous people worldwide don’t overfish. It’s the fishing practices of the so called developed world that do the damage. So called developed simply because they have a sophisticated consumerist, market economy. And this is where the root of the problem lies. Our economic model derives from an experiment that emerged after the second world war. It was called the ‘American Dream’. As many cars and gadgets as possible in every household, and a household being based on the nuclear family model. Out of that has sprung an economic system that is obliged to grow, because its debt based money creation system needs growth in order to pay the interest on its money (making the banks rich). So everyone is encouraged to consume. Our societal narrative is to consume means success. No form of natural capital is seen as capital until its converted into cash. And then we think we have economic growth, when in fact we simply have a process that converts one form of capital into another, to the detriment of the first form which is finite but isn’t regarded as such.
We abuse our resources because our economics don’t see those resources as capital. And our social values are such that we assess each other on how much the other owns (or consumes). But this is a societal narrative, not some genetic driver born of ‘human nature’. We chose to run things this way. And we have a political system that puts power in the hands of people who are ignorant of the facts, namely democracy, which itself is then undermined by industrial vested interests whose only concern is to play the game they understand, which is to make loads of money, and stuff everything else.
It’s a human invention, this system. Not a force of nature. We don’t have to manage things this way. But in the UK we can choose between the Conservatives (name speaks for itself) and Labour (who are so close to the other lot as makes no difference), and in the US you have the Democrats who can’t fart without permission from corporate demagogues, or the Republicans who are, in a nutshell, the same corporate vested interests, sometimes hiding behind stupid religious children who don’t understand the world. So democracy, as we’ve chosen to implement it, is failing. Our systems are failing. They’re tired and outdated and have become corrupted. The experiment needs to be evaluated now. This is the challenge now… to reinvent our narratives and to start again with a new approach, taking the best of the old and casting off the poisonous bits, reinventing our societies and bringing them back inline with values that are more true and which make more sense.
You’re sitting on the shore
Of a glassy lake at dawn,
Surrounded by mountains
With tops hidden in cloud.
Behind you is the house,
With warm orange lights.
Your life glowing mellow
Against the blue dark.
Then a fog sweeps in over cold water,
Silent and ghostly.
And gentle and beguiling.
The sounds of the house fade away
And everything is smothered
In milky uniformity.
You sit alone in a space that has no echoes.
That offers no view.
That offers no perspective.
That’s silent as the grave.
What do you see?
What do you hear?
What do you sense?
You know nothing of where
Or when you are
Bar your memories
And your preconceptions.
So be careful what you hold to be true.
Because when eventually you face
The dispassionate silence,
You will need to know yourself better than you do.
There was a woman who stood beautiful,
Who being made of stone and soil, was as tall as the clouds
And who looked down even as her legs were blasted to dust.
As she cried her imperious cry to the righteous,
Her voice was drowned by the sound
Of the driven masses.
As she reeled and collapsed into the swarming crowd below,
She pleaded with them to hear her dying message
As she shrivelled and shrank before her time,
And crumbled into her own sweet ground,
Reaching out to the plaintiff sound
Of her own kind as they died.
That the power of markets and democracy are two different things.
Power and voice like oil and water.
One floats upon, and smothers, the other.
That the land of the free has become the great illusion,
Corrupted by the greed of the few,
And allowed by the complacency of those
Who think they know better.
Leaves turn gold and die.
Trees now pleading with the sky
To bring warmth again.
When I’m walking through the beautiful world,
And I suddenly see the uniformity.
The same stuff and consistency,
Those moments that last so long
And yet you always forget.
When you know with absolute certainty
The true nature of everything
And its contiguous homogeneity,
And that your place is so small.
I’d ached for a long time.
Waiting for a break.
One day I saw as one sees in a dream,
A world about me that closed in upon me,
And crazed and shattered liked stressed glass.
I last remember screaming
As my world exploded into a glittering dance.
A dance of varied circumstance.
Soon all became quiet and I opened my eyes.
An ocean of people stood watching me, waiting.
The air was still and wet with despair.
The oceans stilled by flotsam and filth.
The land lay hard and died stripped bare.
Then some spirit of wisdom rose up and declared
That love and respect and considered desire
Was what was required.
I told them. I showed them.
And still they denied.
Driven by lust and short term want.
Now sighing winds blow through their bones
Sadly singing their epitaphe.
A quieter world now.
Where when the wind sighs,
It sighs gladly.
The problem is that things that have no significance
Have overtaken those that have.
My phone bill sits here in front of me
Whilst soft rain falls outside in pashy drops
That shake bright flowers
And sends them trembling,
And small creatures run for cover
While I sit here watching and smiling.
I find my life is made small,
Like a leaf being whirled on a whorl
Of water spiralling down.
But then a warm wind blows through my hair
And thunder rumbles and rain falls
And something of a natural order
Passes by my place.
And in the aftermath
I ask why that felt so different.
So much better.
So slowly trudged my river
Laden with brown and stuff
That it smelled like something dying.
Under the bridge
Where the big cars ran past without looking,
A bedraggled duck swam.
Past sorry meadows ran my river,
Watched with saddened eyes
By creatures that couldn’t know
Why the sun no longer sparkled as it used to.
And as they saw and knew,
Their song died also
Because there was nothing left to sing to.
Amidst bleak English fields in February I walked.
Past copses and crooked fences and blackbirds that talked
In repeating sermons of foxes and hawks.
And turning a corner in the deep mud lane
I saw a flat field that was empty and plain
Save one single dead tree that stood there alone,
Crooked spine curved by unending wind,
Wizened arms twisted and bent all ways
And long twisted fingers that curled like snakes
Round unseen currents of air.
I stopped still for a while and watched.
The blackbirds grew quiet and the wind grew still.
Grey clouds hung low and swept overhead,
Bellies pregnant with wet and depression.
The witch tree twitched and a single finger curled,
Suggesting I draw near,
And as I did some crows rose,
Cawing and fluttering to rise into the air.
They flew round me in circles.
The spirit of the tree,
Scattered and laughing at me
And challenging me to move closer and see
A more true view of me.
In that windswept field I stood small
Against open grey space and blackbirds and cawing crows,
Rushing clouds and blowing wind that sighed
Some language I failed to understand.
As I grew closer, my vision melded with that of the tree
Such that my view was mine but was also that of the tree.
And the crows that circled grew quiet and watched
Even as they followed their wing twitching way round my head
And the witch tree’s fingers writhed
Like a pianist playing the sound of the blowing wind.
Then I stood next to her and I turned to look
At that bleak landscape I’d just traversed.
I saw a world that disdained her and that took
Fright at her for her difference and now ran from me too.
It’s something to be different.
It means standing alone with crows
In fields with wider than usual views.
But the blackbird’s sweet song gives hope.
Whenever I consider alternative perspectives to the status quo, for example those espoused by E.F.Shumacher (whom I read when I was 16), I can’t help but visualise the sentiments expressed being sold to the majority of the world’s population, which of course is what’s required. Be those prospective recipients of ‘the message’ residents on a tower block estate in Liverpool, or a slum in the scrambling chaos of India, or rednecks in endlessly consumerist America, or aspiring young executives in Nairobi. Or even disease ridden children in Sudanese refugee camps. And then I wonder just how one would apply such ideals. Youfs in Liverpool just want lager and football, and money to pay for them. Slum dwellers in India want a house, and land and status in a country that just doesn’t have enough room. American Republicans have enormous power and also have an ideal that they too cling to tenaciously, however simplistic and naive it may be. And people all across the world, from Sudan to Bolivia via the South Pacific islands need electricity, and medicine, and a framework that allows them rights of tenure and the means to acquire the goods to build themselves a house and pay for everything from education to windows. This is the way the world is. The experiment that was the twentieth century and the resulting economic and social paradigms that grew from it has, unfortunately in its entirety rather than selectively, been accepted as the way to do things. And another unfortunate truth is that, as things stand, the kind of large scale commercial operations that now exist may represent the only sufficiently large scale approach that can provide sufficient economies of scale to provide all these things.
It seems to me that there are a few key variables in the human context that have primary influence over our ability to manage things.
One is population growth. If, theoretically, the population of the world was suddenly frozen where it is, then we’d have time to rearrange things to bring those that don’t have enough, and those that have too much, more into align with each other and with available resources. But as things are, each unit of progress is swallowed up by another unit of population growth, and the physical constraints of resource availability ever more stressed, are ignored.
Secondly, there’s the question of wealth creation and distribution, and what we consider to be wealth. The twentieth century experiment has produced a system where the entities that are supposed to allow us to organise to generate wealth have a twisted idea of what wealth is, and at the same time, they are designed to function in a system that requires them to only generate that form of wealth, and then only for a select few, namely their shareholders. The scale issue mentioned two paragraphs above suggests that we need large organisations. That’s not the problem. It’s who owns them, how they’re run and for what purpose that needs to be considered. There are many forms of wealth and cash is only one of them. Whilst cash works if treated as a means to achieve contentment for all, it doesn’t work if its seen merely as an end in itself and ‘success’ is deemed to be the acquisition of more money than one needs. It’s possible to be a lonely and depressed millionaire in New York as it is a depressed homeless person on the streets of Mumbai.
Finally, there’s the problem of establishing a sustainable common view of what humanity should aspire to. If we assume (and I’m really not sure) that democracy is an ideal, or is anyway the least undesirable of all of the alternatives, then this is a fundamental requirement for moving forwards in the right direction. But in countries where democracy does indeed exist, the majority of the populations are largely ignorant of what the true issues are. Be it climate change (clueless about the science) to economics (dunno… just want to get this mortgage off my back, or worse, get a bigger one to outshine the neighbours). What is the practical way then to initiate a kind of massive paradigm shift (apologies for the cliche) in people’s perspectives such that they shift their priorities? How do you do it? How? Unless the majority of people, in democracies or not, from the Liverpool footie hooligan to the Mumbai slumb dweller via the New York corporate CEO, change their understanding and their aspirations, and the focus of their concerns, requisite change that might make a real difference and divert us from what appears at the moment to be a disastrous route, is surely unattainable. And just how do you persuade religious fundamentalists that they need to change? Be they nutcases in the US, or even greater nutcases in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
I actually have a more positive perspective than this rant may suggest, although I fight shy of trying to explain to myself why. A key tenet of the book I’m supposed to be writing (if I ever finish it) is the concept of temework. Not a spelling mistake but an acronym that stands for technology, education, moderation and equity, brought together into a strategic, societal framework that emphasises policies designed to encourage each of these aspects. We need technology. We need really clever technology that’s designed to suit our real requirements. An example of a real requirement is clean energy. 3D television is not a real requirement. A solution to providing clean energy lies with some really clever, bleeding edge stuff that costs a hell of a lot of money to research and develop… so we need institutions that have the cash and are incentivised to spend it in this way – think about that. Certainly for me, as a cynic of corporate organisations, it’s food for thought.
For example, it’s possible to burn coal, which is by far and away the most plentiful resource (ok.. what about wind and waves etc.. but think realistically about scale and cost and implementation) in such a way that hydrogen is generated, which can power fuel cells, the only by products from which are water and CO2, which can now, thanks to some phenomenal and very expensive scientific work, be combined with silica to make house bricks. Wow. Clean energy and cheap building materials, from the worlds most easily accessible energy resource. The kind of intermediate solution on the road to ubiquitous renewables that might actually be useful in a world of 9 billion people, most of whom are homeless and energy starved, in a world threatened by CO2 emissions. And remember that this coal resource is being used anyway. Now. That’s the reality. The Chinese are building masses of power stations based on this fuel. And neither you, nor me, nor anyone else is going to stop them. We haven’t got time to discuss niceties. Climate change is happening. We have to work with the realities. And technical innovations like this CO2/fuel cell stuff might allow that. But it wouldn’t be happening if as a society, we just turned away from the institutions that we have instead of working with them and modifying them. And they need modifying. Both corporates and Governments, to reflect different and more pressing realities. Why on earth are our oil companies subsidised with tax payer’s money? Because our Governmental priorities are all wrong. Why is the development of clean energy technology driven only by the corporate profit motive and not as a desirable thing to happen in society? Because in that simplistic, 20th century model, money is the only way we have of reflecting value or defining aspiration.
So that’s technology. There’s also GM crops, and alternatives to antibiotics (would we be objecting to those if they wee just being invented?), and nuclear power, and the meat debate, and the vulnerability of mega cities, and desalinisation, and a whole load of technologies that could have the kind of short term beneficial impacts that we need. But that would take too long to talk about. All take loads of wonga though, and very complicated organisations to make them happen.
What about education? Again, the problem seems to be one of trying to shift established paradigms. We in the west, and elsewhere now, raise our children to aspire to make money. In a sense we have no choice, because by virtue of the fact that we ourselves (in the main) are spending most of our lives focused on that objective, our children of course acquire the same habit. And its all exacerbated by the trash media that promotes such aspirations as being proper. There’s actually nothing wrong with seeking to be comfortable, but no one is ever taught about the costs. No one is ever taught about the context that enables us to be acquisitive, and what it actually means. How many American children realise that whilst the US comprises some 5% of the world’s population, it uses some 25% of its energy and creates about 26% of its waste? All that energy is sucked in from other parts of the world, where people can’t afford it. And the ignorance of those American children who, were they to know the facts would probably act to create a better world, is down to an educational system that just doesn’t tell them. The whole system rattles on as though it were still 1895 and the internal combustion engine was emerging as a catalyst of a whole new dawn of humanity, that led to that great 20th century experiment. It’s daft. The world has changed, as have priorities. But just how the hell do you change a global school education system? It’s hard enough faffing about with primary school syllabi in the UK. And then there’s religious fundamentalism, and celebrity culture, and home influences related in turn to poverty and ignorance etc etc. And don’t get me started on stubborn adult ignorance.
Then there’s moderation. Oh dear. Big one this. Has fingers in every pie. Everything from the education system to social hierarchies, to workplace ‘success’, to pension systems all point towards more and more acquisition and stuff. The whole idea is so entrenched in just about every aspect of every society on earth. And who’s to tell those in developing countries that they shouldn’t aspire to more than a mud hut and one meal a day if they’re lucky? But as such realisation manifests, the great machine kicks into gear and all of a sudden, a level of wealth that approximates to a global average kicks in as the minimal desirable objective. Of course, we all know that that average is hugely distorted by unequal distribution of resource use, but (back to education) how do you convince millions and millions of people that that’s the case? And that the rich should become less materially well off so the poor can become materially better off? And then there’s meat eating, and water use, and power use, and land use etc etc.
Finally there’s equity. Touched on already (all these issues are interlinked and interdependent). The debate about inequity isn’t based upon the idea of equitable distribution. It’s based upon the idea of everyone having the same degree of material wealth as the wealthiest. That’s what economic growth is about. That’s what ‘developing ‘ countries are developing for. To be the same as the US or Europe. But it’s not possible. Or rather it is, but only if some really smart tech is embraced really quickly, and then there’ll be a different sort of price to pay from the environmental decimation that we’re witnessing now. Rather a sort of environmental modification. Where wild spaces are no more but exist only due to benevolence, and most are utilised Be that with bloody great wave or wind farms, or factory farmed GM agriculture, or organic farmholding forced on people who’d rather not have their material aspirations capped by government. Consider the practical ideal of Contraction and Convergence, as espoused by Aubrey Meyer. Yeah, yeah. Well done Aubrey. Completely agree with you. Now go and tell the Chinese and the Yanks.
Which ever way it plays out, a crowded planet, with too few resources, lots of ignorance, too much religious bigotry and prejudice and an economic system that’s not only too inflexible but is based upon the wrong objectives, is not a context where higher ideals can be applied. One might believe in them, but there’s a danger that doing so is only to satisfy some selfish need to feel good about oneself. OK, OK. Better than doing nothing.
We have no choice but to hope that a greater wisdom will come to prevail. But the truth is that it isn’t going to happen quickly enough, and the sheer scale of the global change that’s required is too big. Unless we all stop arguing, look at what we have, become far more realistic about what’s required and what’s possible, and very rapidly implement global changes that must include the adoption of technologies like nuclear power, and hydrogen power, and solar and the rest, and GM crops in the right (non commercial) way, and land redistribution, and the changing of the whole prerogative and raison d’etre of all out of our economic, religious (fat chance) and commercial institutions, implemented according to national and local circumstances and needs, to reflect the actual global priorities that we now face. Not to mention changing the personal aspirations and value sets of millions of people. That requires a complete reassessment of what is meant by democracy – less big govt and more devolution. National institutions that exist to serve a national need, such as health, pharmaceutical research, energy research, education. Economies that are structured to reflect real, local needs, including changing the way people belong to organisations. People are not ‘human resources’ . People ARE the organisation. The organisation exists to serve our needs. Not the other way round. Look at the Mondgragon Corporation for an example of a different and better way of organising corporates, with broader and more realistic objectives and priorities. Local organisation to allow differentiation and freedom from enslavement to an outdated economic dogma, and the profit driven corporate institutions that represent it.
I doubt it’s going to happen. But I live in hope. Only just though. And I switch between stressed out ‘aware person’ and ‘oh fuck it’ resigned person.
Consider a number of the issues that humanity faces right now. Population growth. Increased resource use. Increased energy requirements. Increased food requirements. Increased water requirements.
Consider the context in which these requirements are being expressed. Increasing droughts and floods. Increasing corporate hegemony. Huge changes in global balances of power. Universal aspirations to the traditional American -way-of-life. A consumerist model, with an economic system that’s based on debt, both at an individual level and a national one. So growth is required just to pay the interest on the debt.
Where does all this reach some sort of equilibrium? Some real balance between supply and demand. Some state where people are happy with their lot.
Climate change is just one part of the dynamic that’s changing the world we live in. But why it’s significant s that it permeates all other aspects of our lives and our plans and our aspirations. It affects all of the processes that we rely upon to achieve our objectives. It causes disruptions to food supply. It causes floods and great storms. It fundamentally alters the physical context in which we operate. It changes our world. Therefore it has huge implications for the way our societies operate.
Climate Change is not the only issue that we face. There are a whole army of them. Most are caused or exacerbated by climate change but all are increasing in significance at exponential rates. Whilst climate change is a fundamental driver for many of these issues, we also have to deal with:
- Growing populations and their inherent increases in demand on resources.
- Simultaneous growing affluence and its resulting increase in demand on resources, such that this demand is accelerating.
- Microbial resistance to antibiotics and the consequent inherent threat of the undermining of many medical advances since the mid 20th century that are dependent upon antibiotics.
- Oil and energy resource shortage as demand increases and supplies become ever more hard to recover and ever more tenuous and unpredictable in their longevity.
- Increasing inequity between a small minority of people in the world, who increasingly control mote of its assets, and the vast majority who, on an average basis at least, have very little and who are powerless against a system where money is all powerful.
- The evolution of mega cities, where all of our problems become concentrated.
- The loss of biodiversity, the very aspect of the natural world that supports us that enables it to do so, and which allows for a flexible planet that’s able to accommodate typical crises.
- Competition between the need to use land to grow food, and the need to preserve natural environments and biodiversity that enables the ecological systems that support the production of plant and animal based food in the first place.
- Water shortage as more people use more, depleting underground aquifers, whilst climate change alters supply as rainfall patterns change, glaciers retreat and deplete dependent rivers, and precipitation that once fell as snow now falls as rain and runs away, causing floods.
- Accumulating waste as we continue to convert natural resources into short term material products that are discarded and thrown back into an environment that can’t break down their constituents quickly enough.
How the hell does all of this add up? The great challenge facing the people of the 21st century is how to reconcile their aspirations with what’s available to satisfy these aspirations. Never before has humanity been in such control. And never before has it been so hungry for more. How we deal with this conundrum over the next few decades will decided how we survive. Not whether or not we survive, because we will survive, but in what way we survive. We have reached a crux point, where we need to choose between different directions. For the first time we’re able to choose our own evolutionary path. And the worrying thing is that we don’t seem to realise that that’s the decision we’re in the process of making.
Consider all of this. Think about it. Look at the world about you. Research. Read. Think. And when you’ve realised for yourself what’s happening, take action. Join in. Rise and sing your own opera. For the sake of your children.
In a dream draped with dripping palm leaves
I saw Great Baboon combing his golden hair.
He paused and returned my stare with an air
Of authority that didn’t invite a challenge.
He laid down his comb and sat down there
In the damp dawn grass in his jungle lair
And considered me as a refugee
From something he knew nothing of.
He saw a pink beast that looked at him
With unseeing eyes that hoped for nothing
From this mere ape in my arrogance.
And the Hoopoe howled and the elephant screamed
Laughing at my preposterous intrusion.
Pompous fool with glowstick jewellery.
Then all went quiet and drip drip went the drips
And I squirmed in the silence as a row of bees
As still as full stops considered me.
They spoke together in buzzing song
Then turned as one to Great Baboon
And he smiled and laughed the ripe rich laugh
Of the wiser man I really knew him to be.
And the Hoopoe shrilled a gleeful sound
And I became known as the one who watched
With no comprehension of the world I saw
As I chose to stand and to stake my place
In the hierarchy that shall not be spoken of.
I knew that place would always be
As a fraud and usurper of the real beauty
Of that night of the Great King Baboon.
The god that was to die as my kind and I
Moved to take all for our own.
His laughter still rumbles in storms in the night,
Residual echo of a more natural might
Than our filthy uncaring machines.