Getting turkeys to vote for Christmas
I have been using this analogy a lot recently. This is because, as I explained to potentially-baffled readers on Learning from Dogs recently, I am using it to summarise the essence of the final part in Schalk’s recent series on the unfolding collapse of the global economy: That the people with the power will not relinquish it voluntarily and, in the meantime, they have our politicians completely fixated on burning fossil fuels simply because “they are there”…
This may be a legitimate reason to climb mountains; but it is no way to manage a planet.
I summarised all of the above in my previous two posts but, once again, with my thanks to Schalk Cloete (Oneinabillion blog), let me re-state the potential solutions and the obstacles we face, as simply as possible:
The potential solutions (see Schalk’s Heal the System):
– Minimise our wasteful consumption of non-renewable resources and energy.
– Eliminate business and economic practices that encourage over-consumption.
– Live within our means and start paying-off our currently mortgaged future.
– Educate women in poor countries to eliminate excessive population growth.
The obstacles to implementation (see Schalk’s Practical Challenges):
– Convince hundreds of millions of people that consuming things will not make them happy.
– Invest in things that benefit society (not those who are already wealthy).
– Spend less than we earn and save the rest (not spend more and borrow the difference).
– Acknowledge the needs of future generations (not just assert our rights to please ourselves).
With my thanks to Pendantry, one of the most faithful visitors to this blog, I have become aware that the day on which our annual consumption of the Earth’s resources exceeded its annual supply, Earth Overshoot Day, was 22 August this year. I find this particularly shocking because Earth Overshoot Day was 27 September last year. That is 36 days earlier (86% of the time it took last year). I am not sure how such a large change since last year can be possible (it is certainly not sustainable) but even if the goalposts have been moved in some way, we certainly should not be complacent.
Use it up and wear it out is OK when cleaning your teeth; but it’s no way to manage a planet.
With my thanks to JPGreenword, another faithful friend of this site, I offer these very prescient words of wisdom from one of the greatest scientists that the World has ever known:
“The world will not evolve past its current state of crisis by using the same thinking that created the situation.” – Albert Einstein
Finally, I must return to something else Schalk has written, this time as a guest post on Learning from Dogs, where he says that we must… “motivate people to take action by strongly emphasizing on the immediate personal benefits of making these lifestyle changes…”
It is often said that charity begins at home but, so to, it seems, will revolution. However, the revolution we now need is not merely political – it is psychological and metaphysical. To be sure, political revolution has been tried; and it has always failed. Therefore, what humans need now is a revolution of the mind; such that we may all perceive what we are doing to this planet and – in addition to living within our own individual means – live within the our planetary means.
I’m spending my kids’ inheritance is OK as a car sticker; but it’s no way to manage a planet.
I think the solution therefore lies in getting our politicians to look beyond the ballot box – to see the World that we are currently bequeathing to our children – and if that requires widespread civil disobedience, so be it. We may think we live in a democracy, where government of the people, by the people, for the people, has been a longstanding benefit. Sadly, however, if it was ever a reality, it is now a cruel myth because, in almost every case, what we are suffering from at present is government of the people, by the politicians, for the plutocrats.
I believe we can get the turkeys to vote for Christmas.
However, nothing worthwhile has ever been achieved without a struggle. Therefore, in order to do this, we must break the stranglehold that big business has upon our politicians. Sadly, this is an almost impossible task but, if anything can precipitate it, I am certain that the realisation that we face an impending ecological catastrophe can do it. The alternative, of course, is that which Jared Diamond has described in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, in that governments spend more and more money ensuring their own survival rather than tackling the cause of their growing instability.
I really do hope we can avoid that scenario but, if we are to do so – if we are to get our political turkeys to vote for a carbon-free Christmas – we will have to convince them we must all become “vegetarians”; and invite them to join us as we celebrate with the nutloaf of renewable energy instead of the meat of fossil fuels.