Many of the ideas and commentary presented on this blog aren’t very popular. This is not surprising in the least. However, it bears mentioning for some extremely important reasons.
The general idea of reduced consumption, reduced development and reduced population isn’t on people’s minds. Instead, they are looking foward to a sense of “growth” in their own lives; a promotion, a vacation, maybe a relocation or just the coming weekend, when they’ll let their hair down and live it up a little. Or they’re looking forward to something else. But the idea of scaling back, living simpler and using less on all fronts, is pretty far from their minds.
Most people are too busy trying to survive in an increasingly complex world to really even care about what happens in ten years. This is unfortunate in the extreme, but understandable. I’ve been there myself, but I “withdrew” some years back from the corporate world and simplified my life as a response to what I saw going on around me. It helped a lot (imo) in shaping my ideas and viewpoints. But not everyone can do this, or even wants to, so it’s expected that people just aren’t connecting to what happening.
I was sitting in a restaurant today listening to these two guys talk about TIVO at a nearby table, and how to program their VCR’s. To my way of thinking, it was a bit surreal, but it reminded me of the fact that nobody really believes that things can change drastically for the worse. Or that they don’t want to dwell on it like I do!
But there is something else here I want to focus on and that is the opportunity that remains to create a sustainable future for self, family, community, country or world is fast slipping away, while we are worried about how to program our Tivo machines so we can record the last episode of Desperate Housewives. People are pretty blase when it comes to considering just how fragile their world really is. They’ve abused it for so long it seems like it will just last forever. Which is exactly why nothing is really changing. The weekends come and go and the general population is blithely unaware of the seriousness of the global situation and it’s progression.
Even simply telling them doesn’t work. It’s not real, it has no meaning, no impact, no measurable value, no significance in their daily lives. Most of the changes that are occuring on the planet are out of sight and out of mind. The stores are still stocked, the gas is still available, the paychecks for most people still arrive and they’re just not thinking on a much bigger level then living week to week. The concern and ultimately, lifestyle changes simply aren’t there.
I think it’s also important how people can be shown facts and circumstances, and still deny the significance of the evidence. Have you ever returned “home” to where you grew up? I have, at least twice. It’s not the same place, not even close. What was once rural countryside and vineyards is now completely covered with houses, pavements, strip malls and horrible ugliness The trees are gone, the vineyards are gone, it’s not the same place at all. But even this type of evidence doesn’t carry the impact and meaning that it should.
It should make us weep and cry, to see how much our world is changing in just one generation. Sometimes it does, but more often then not, it’s just a wistfulness that we feel when we see the changes wrought.
It should be obvious that our world is changing and we are quite literally, paving over what used to be where we lived. Places that used to be home, familiar and secure, places where family grew, lived and experienced life. Now these places are Burger Kings and 7/11’s, horrible eyesores, ugly examples of “modern civilization” that are meant to mean “progress”.
The unchecked growth of this past generation is considered by economist to be “good”, but by someone who longs passionately for a rural pastoral life, these changes are quite horrible. I’m in good company, the planet itself agrees with me, because every new strip mall, housing development or burgeoning city represents an incredible jump in wrested resources stolen from the land and the sea, torn from their “home” to rest in articial construction in a strange and foreign place.
All of which took energy to mine, log, manufacture, produce, transport, erect and build, pave and paint over. All so a few more people can pile up on top of each other in crowded containers of human engineering to ogle at the girls buying baubles and trinkets at the new shopping malls.
This cycle of “civilization” is extremely destructive, not only to the environment, but to our very way of life. What we once cherished as a favorite fishing hole is now a 4 lane bridge with polluted water running undernearth it. We’re losing our roots, the ties to the past that provide us with a sense of history, connection and togetherness. It’s sad and it’s tragic, that’s what it is.
Now to my point.
Expecting people to change for the health of the planet and ultimately, themselves is proving to be foolish. That is, people aren’t going to change, they simply don’t want to. They don’t know how. We’ve lost something of tremendous significance in the past forty years. We’ve become disconnected from everything that was once important to us. The world changed – and we went along with it, hook, line and sinker.
This is evidence by everything going on around us right now. We have warning signs everywhere, all over the planet, but what’s really on people’s minds? How to get ahead, how to move up ladder, how to make more money, how to get laid, anything but the really important issues that are global in scale. The sense of togetherness, roots, family, tradition and culture are distorted fragments of what they once were.
People are not thinking about their own personal impact on the planet, or even on their own city or neighborhood, it’s not important, it’s not significant. They’re thinking about buying a new car, or that new restaurant, or their new girlfriend. In other words, they’re emeshed in “life”, this modern artificial construct of glass and steel and plastic and electronic gizmos that is gripping the planet in a death-spiral.
This means that the party of capitalism, consumption, consumerism, whatever fits your ticket, is the defining focus for millions, billions of people. The momentum that these billions and billions of people create is quite frankly – unstoppable. There is nothing that can be done on a human level to change this. Nothing.
I have been hoping for a “sea change” which has been written about by people like Jan Lundberg, but I do not see any true evidence of this to be honest. It’s simply not there. Even when people do discuss (rarely) a change of lifestyle, consider what they are really asking for. Usually it’s just a modest change with a minimal impact upon the ultimate outcome. After the “discussion”, it’s time to order out and get a pizza. Or a Big Mac. Nothing changes. Even now, the Peak Oilers are guilty of looking for alternative energy sources, and “more fuel efficient cars” which means they also hope to continue the party as long as possible.
What people are not looking for is a real change, a lasting change that really represents a reverting back. A change that would have a global impact for the better – for all of the remaining life forms on Earth. People still want their fresh catch fish in their favorite restaurants, overstuffed grocery stores with zillions of choices, all packaged, wrapped and presentable and made neat and clean from the real slaughter, and everything else that comes with modern living. Modern madness is more like it. The insanity of it all is mind boggling. Where does it stop? More importantly, how can it continue?
The reason that the human race is in such trouble today is because of the way in which we live, which is based on consumption, a “taker” viewpoint of constant consumption. This voracious appetite is like bacteria in a petri dish. When the available food supply is depleted, then what?
What was required of us was to be caretakers, planetary citizens, caring and sustaining the planet and all of its lifeforms so that we could ensure our own survival. This planetary symbiosis was necessary by the only species of the planet that had both the means and the power to sustain life – or destroy it utterly.
I am fully persuaded that there is NO hope for humanity to make the necessary changes in time. This would require at least two generations, and a complete turnover of the world’s population to burn out the consumptive lifestyle we presently have. We don’t have that kind of time, which would span at least 50 years. More like 75 or 80, or even 100 years.
In fact, I’m beginning to believe that trying to tell other humans about what is necessary is a complete waste of time. Time that would be much better spent developing your own contigency plans.
An example of this is made clear here: If ALL of Los Angeles, a city of umpteen millions suddenly stopped driving today, what difference would it really make? Ultimately, none. The existing momentum in the world would continue, even increase, consuming the now unused resources no longer needed by those in Los Angeles.
Now, what are the chance that we could get all of Los Angeles to stop driving? Or even a lousy 10% to stop driving? You see? It’s not possible – it’s ludicrous to even believe that it’s within our grasp.
The reality is, we’d need hundreds of millions of people to stop what they are doing right now in order to affect any meaningful change. Maybe at least a billion people. A billion Westerners to be exact, since we are the most wasteful and consumptive group of all.
What are the chances of that? Zero. Zip. None. None at all. Which just might explain the reason so little is actually being done in the face of dire and repeated warnings by planetary scientist the world over. It’s not only too late, it’s far, far too late. The population itself is simply too big, too much momentum is now underway, no effective measures or protocols could possibly be implemented in time to forestall global disaster.
This may indeed be the reason we are seeing so little interest and so little meaningful progress on world levels. This then, has some really serious ramifications.
Number One: we’re wasting our time on the general population. We’re simply not going to affect enough of them in the time that remains. We already know that within 10 years, we are going have gigantic oil problems of such serious magnitude that it will plunge the world into a perpetual state of warfare for the remaining resources. This chess game is already being played out right now, and this is only a part of the equation. Global warming is considered by some to be past the tipping point already. Even an instantaneous vaporization of 3 billion people wouldn’t stop it now.
Number Two: This then means that a serious reassessment of priorities and tasks is needed. If the changes necessary cannot be implemented in time, what then can we do? Anything? Nothing?
The ecovillage is a working, functional concept that is being embraced as the answer for future sustainability. But is it? Nothwithstanding some of the concerns I have previously voiced on this blog, the village does offer some hope. But only for a few. Using our Los Angeles example, how many villages would be necessary for a city the size of Los Angeles to survive? I simply cannot count that high. And even if I could, how would this really affect the planet?
It wouldn’t be enough. Not even close. Not even fractionally close. It just wouldn’t be enough. Not if we had a million villages, which could only represent a tiny fraction of the total population. If each village was truly sustainable, they’d have to be managed on a small enough scale to not require massive outside energy inputs. The very concept of scale then becomes something that isn’t achievable. Not on a level required.
And to say that we couldn’t get a million people to suddenly change their lives and lives sustainably, let alone 15 million or 20 million, is an understatement. Try and find 100,000. Good luck.
No, this isn’t possible, it’s absolutely ludicrous for us to even think so. I see a lot of writing to this effect, the idea that “we’ll tear up the pavement and plant gardens”. Yeah, right. I don’t think so. People will hang onto this present lifestyle right up to the very end because they are very much married to this way of life, till the bitter end. If they really wanted to change – they would. But look around. Where do you see widespread, sweeping changes being made on a significant scale? You don’t. Nowhere. Not anywhere in the entire world.
This is yet another reason that the village is a failed concept. It simply cannot meet enough of the needs in time. It’s not even possible. The general idea is sound – but the requirements necessary for global impact aren’t being met on a broad enough scale to be meaningful.
What does this mean? It means that all of the energy and effort that is now being expended towards all of the present efforts to save the planet are miniscule compared to what is really needed. All of it. Global conferences on global warming, world forums on planetary changes, scientific meetings and warnings, greenhouse gas reductions, Kyoto protocol, ecovillages, all of it.
I’m not arguing that the ecovillage is bad, not at all, it’s just not enough. None of it is enough, nor can it be.
The significance of this is and it’s meaning is you are going to need to implement your own plans for future sustainability. I don’t like using the word “survival” with all of it’s negative connotations, but it’s appropriate here. No “global” program will – or can be implemented in time to ensure your own survival. Not even on a national level.
During World War II, the nation underwent rationing, with most of the young men off to the war. We are now a nation of at least double the size – and of a much higher complexity and a far, far higher sense of dependency and interconnectedness. We’re not going to make it this time – not as a group. How could we? We simply couldn’t implement enough changes fast enough as a group to make a difference. Not enough measures, not enough ecovillages, not enough anything to be perfectly honest.
These are some more reasons why collapse will be guaranteed. It can be no other way. Momentum, in this case, ensures a self-sustaining feedback loop that will be impossible to overcome in time.
If our energies are at present, misdirected, then a “consolidation of effort” needs to be implemented to take best advantage of the available time, resources and the remaining opportunities that remain. This consolidation would also mean to quit beating at the air regarding the general population.
I’ve written to this point, on this entire blog of the course of it’s Net life, to get exactly to this point, which is this: with all the various issues now taking place in the world, what is the best course of action that can now be undertaken? It is the fundamental question that I have been seeking on a personal level to answer. The question that drive me to even writing this blog and to “document the collapse”, something I have doing for over ten years.
I’ve not even begun to cover all of the issue that peturb me, but I have covered a few of them. But what I find more important is what can be done about any of these things. Blogs seem to be filled with commentary, but no real answers. I doubt very much that I am any different. But I readily admit that I am seeking answers, if there are any to be found.
I like to write. I suppose it’s an exegesis of sorts, expunging and examining my own thoughts, thinking and direction in life. Years and years before I discovered blog software, I wrote in a journal. I really don’t feel that this is any different, except that I acknowledge that there is (now) a public audience. I think that there are a lot of people looking for the same answers I am, which is really the only reason I blog.
The truth is, I keep coming up with the same answer, every time. Whether I document the failed presidency, the war, the environment, sustainable living, the collapsing ecosystems, global warming, politics, culture, all of it, the answer I sense deep down in my soul is the same irregardless.
And do you know what that is?