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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Hopeful Earth

Hopeful Earth

Date : 23rd April 2005, Source : Dr Glen Barry



The fact that the environmental crisis is exceedingly grim does not mean there are not solutions, nor does it ameliorate the need for urgent immediate responses. This will require vision, resolve and willingness to change and take risks. Recently I have presented a truthful review of the perilous condition of the Earth, and have already written of large scales solutions. This essay is an effort to capture some of the personal, economic, societal and political elements of an environmentally sustainable life - and hopeful trends and ideas in this regard.

Another name for environmental doom and gloom is the truth. Continuation of current social and economic trends will kill the Earth, rendering it unable to support advanced human societies. Truth must always be spoken loudly and frequently. It is a disservice to humanity and an insult to the Earth's peoples to suggest that they can not handle the truth, and that it is not strategic to let them know their children's lives are at stake because of the way they live.

There is much that can be done to prevent or minimize the impacts of pending global ecological collapse before it becomes irreversible reality. Ecologists and conservation biologists know many of the policies necessary to sustain and protect the Earth's ecosystems and biodiversity. An ecology-based Earth movement must lead in enunciating, organizing and implementing policy that will maintain an Earth that is healthy and comfortable for most if not all. There is no hope for the Earth if we are unable to confront the truth and fashion sufficient policies in response.

,b>Lots to Be Done by Each of Us

We must each seek to live as if we depend upon the Earth for our life, as indeed we do. Lead a green life full of joy, doing the best you can to minimize your impact upon the Earth, but refusing to give in to despair. Consume less. Have one or if you must two children. I have suggested that the safest place to be during coming ecological decline will be living upon and loving a particular piece of land. But of course not everyone can do so.

Seek to connect with the Earth wherever you may find yourself. Where does the water from your tap come from? Help protect the source. Community gardens can be established just about anywhere. Perhaps the single most important thing you can do is compost, ensuring your organic waste returns to the Earth, renewing her fertility. Recycle, reduce, reuse. Work to bring pedestrian friendly redevelopment of existing urban lands to your community.

There are so many ways to live more enjoyable and simple lives, while externalizing your love and dependence upon the Earth. Emphasize quality of consumption over quantity. Every individual need not have several of every material toy that is out there. But a musician will need beautiful instruments and a carpenter their tools. Consume what you need to be you - indulging in areas important to you - but not consuming as a way to provide meaning to your life. Live near your work - walking or biking to get there. Grow things - food and native flowers and trees.

When faced with the need to transport, house and feed yourself, use the latest environmental technologies when you can. These include hybrid or other low emission cars if you must drive, compact inflorescent light bulbs, front load washers, green building techniques and many others. Being ecology minded need not mean you live a luddite or impoverished life-style. But even appropriate technologies have costs to the Earth and should be used sparingly.

Steady State Economy

The global economic growth machine must be stopped and market based environmental solutions implemented immediately if capitalism is to have a future. It was recently suggested to me by a colleague that bringing environmental externalities into prices, taxing pollution (ear-marked for mitigation/offsetting) true-cost accounting, and getting rid of environmentally harmful subsidies are important first steps towards capitalism that does not eat itself.

I do worry though that ultimately capitalism's dependence upon ever greater growth, impossible in a finite world, may be its Achilles' heel. Technology puts off such resource limitations, but does not eliminate them. Ecologically minded people must throw their energy behind shifting our world towards a steady state economy.

Such an economic system is sustainable indefinitely by definition. This is achieved mostly by restoring rather than diminishing natural capital like water, an operable atmosphere and healthy terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems upon which we all depend. This will require a much reduced economy and controls upon industry. Greater equity in sharing the Earth's economic fruits would make most better off, all would have enough to meet basic needs, and those that work hard could still have an opportunity to have more.

Environmentalism is Rock Solid, Not Going Anywhere

And as for this "Death of Environmentalism" crap floating around the media and Internet - it reminds me of another flashy thesis utterly devoid of meaning a few years back - "The End of History". Such showmen like titles gather headlines and funding but are dreadfully lacking in historical and ecological understanding. It has been suggested that environmentalists must be more businesslike and willing to compromise to be effective. In other words, being seen as being effective is more important than actually being so.

Healthy ecological systems are a requirement for human and other wildlife's existence. This is a global truth and those that deny it are wrong. The first time a few thousand Americans die in one incident related to climate change, toxic release, forest fires, drought, etc. - something that will happen soon - the pendulum will swing right back. When the shit hits the fan and ecosystem collapse makes the news in a big way, global ecological sustainability will be better served by a movement that has not compromised away principles that are truly adequate and sufficient to actually deal with the situation.

A few miles more per gallon in fuel efficiency is good but will not stop climate change. Insisting upon radically reforming the energy sector - drawing up detailed plans to do so and organizing for its implementation, regardless of whether they are immediately implemented - is the only way forward. Hope for the Earth requires revolutionary change, and efforts to pursue evolutionary change while valuable must not come at the expense of radical change sufficient to actually meet the challenges facing us.

Conservative Idiots Kill the Earth in God's Name

Conservative ideologues are a feisty, aggressive bunch. The empty vacuous logic of neo-fascists must be revealed and hit back at hard. The fascist conservative vision is fatally flawed - based upon superstition, greed and power - while threatening the Earth's survival for the rich to have still more.

The conservative path is one of war, inequity, pestilence and environmental collapse. In the past several years in just America neo-fascists have stolen an election, installed an oil industry puppet, launched a preemptive war to secure oil, and stalled international progress to address climate change and other eco-threats to life, liberty and ecological sustainability. Conservatives are eco-terrorists.

Extreme neo-fascists misconstrue environmentalism as seeking to return humanity to a primitive condition. They lie because they are so beholden to the bubble economy they have created - short term economic growth based upon ravaging of the Earth's life-support systems at the point of a gun.

Liberal progressive greens offer a vision of hope, and sustainable happiness, comfort and well-being for most. There is beauty and justice in living in a way that preserves for all time our and other species. Bright greens must stop being cowed and hit back at conservative fascists. Our ideas, values and motives are better than theirs.

Bright greens are the only hope we have for a just, equitable and sustainable future. We are the hope for the Earth and all her humanity.

Dr Glen Barry (http://earthmeanders.blogspot.com/)


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Document last updated on Tuesday 30 August 2011

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