This morning as the EU is worried that fuel price protests might need to be addressed by some sort of tax relief and the talking heads say the US is concerned the rising fuel prices have caused Americans to reduce consumption by 1% over last year. OOOh! Scary! The only scary bit is that we haven't reduced consumption by 90%.
We still don’t get it do we? No-one wants to address the basics. Our economy is a sub system of the environmental/ecological system. Our system is dependent on limitless growth while the system it lies within is finite. That is unsustainable, as David Suzuki says “that is madness.”
I’ve recently watched the 11th Hour film and have pulled out some pertinent quotes. One of the most striking is from Ray Anderson, founder of Interface Carpets, who reckons our industrial economy needs to be re-invented,
“For every truckload of product...32 truckloads of waste are produced”
Our economy is a waste generating machine and now in our rush to consume our way to destruction we are drowning in it.
Nathan Gardels from the New Perspectives Quarterly states that consumer democracy has become the leading ideology of the planet. Even in China the state feels the need to allow it’s citizens to consume to distraction. I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation from Mr. Gardels,
“We need to be slower and we need to be smarter. Slow movement means disengaging from consumerism as the main avenue of experience. It doesn’t reject any consumption but it says we’re not going to live our lives mediated by the marketplace or what’s being sold. We’re not going to make our identities and our meaning based on that. Instead of the long commute, the bigger car, the bigger house, let’s enjoy the local produce, have time to our selves, understand that things are thieves of time. Because the more things you have the more time you have to spend working, the more life is chained to a rhythm to get those things. The other element is the smart element and there I think we have to re-introduce the term, an old term from before the industrial revolution, frugality. Frugality does not mean poverty. Frugality means the wise use of resources. The meaning of the industrial revolution was that nature was turned into a resource and so was considered endlessly abundant. That’s not true.”
Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest and The Ecology of Commerce, reminds us what is at stake,
“Every living system is in decline and the rate of decline is accelerating. There isn’t 1 peer reviewed scientific article in the past 20 years that’s been published that contradicts that statement”
That’s not a single living system, whether it be in the ocean, the boreal forests, the tropical rainforests, the atmosphere, or in your neighborhood, none of them are stable or improving.
Not to worry though. James Woolsey former head of the CIA, reminds us that from Pearl Harbor through to the beginning of demobilization after defeating Hitler and Imperial Japan took only 3 years and 8 months. America turned on a dime and got the job done. Quoting Winston Churchill
“Americans always do the right thing, unfortunately it’s only after they’ve exhausted all other possibilities”.
He thinks we’ve exhausted those possibilities and that maybe now we might be ready to get it right.
What do you think? What are we waiting for? Is it better technology? Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t yet have the technology. Kenny Ausubel, founder of the Bioneers, makes it clear,
“With existing technologies that we already have on the shelf or that we know we can develop in a rapid period of time we could reduce the human footprint on planet earth by 90%”
What we don’t yet have is the will to do the right thing.
Sandra Postel of the Global Water Policy Project,
“It’s not just going to be a matter of tweaking a policy here and there. It’s going to take a very broad societal mobilization. It’s going to take involvement at all levels, from the government through industry and on down to our communities and a welling up of involvement of citizens.’’
We just have to decide to do it.
Are we ready?
What have you done today to lower your impact?
We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.
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