What we have already done to our planet by maintaining economic growth.
We have and are over populating it, which is reducing our per capita of resources and our functionality. But worst is we must grow the economy and to do that we must burn more fossil fuels, which’s changing the biosphere that increasingly retains heat that’s raising the planet’s temperature to an unlivable state, and furthermore those gases are absorbed in the oceans acidifying it, thus endangering its life. Forest coverage is shrinking and their fires are uncontrollable and extreme, burning in the north and south hemisphere at same time, lasting much longer and are more frequent, causing multiple fatalities and severe health problems over large parts of the planet. Droughts are more severe and frequent, as are floods, also groundwater has to be pumped from deeper bores, which uses more oil. Spending on the military worldwide keeps increasing, is a drain on nature and on people who maintain societies’ liveability, also and even worse, and it perpetuates fear of the other. It’s aggravated by the disparity between people’s wellbeing, which’s widening nationally and globally. Furthermore, species of wild animals and plants all over the planet are decreasing at an alarming accelerating rate, in the air, land and water; if we keep on course it will be the slow part of a looming extinction. Relation between civilised nations is on a knife edge as the clock keep’s ticking on the possibility of nuclear extermination.
But none of that deters our economists as their aim is firmly fixed on economic and population growth, while politicians are concerned with the next election. That obvious nonsense is accepted worldwide practically unquestioned but there’s a limit to growth and we have passed it, so today, growth is at the expense of an increase decline elsewhere. Our civilised culture has not only separated people from one another, but also from other life and things as the more one feels apart the less feeling one has for the other. Also the less concern one has for the ones we abuse the easier it is to do. Yet we still have responsibility for one another, it’s seen so often when a stranger needs help due an accident or in a dire situation like drowning, people will risk their lives to save another it has been observed numerous occasions, because it’s our normal response to someone in need of support. It’s our hunter-gatherer culture that’s still very much part of nearly every one when it can be expressed if there’s no financial pressure.
To end life on our planet all we need to do is carry on as we have done since we’ve used fossil fuels to its bitter end. We’re not in control of that energy; this is due to the paradoxical system of social-competitiveness with its unknowable outcomes. Yet it’s the decisive factor for societies’ future, for it’s near impossible to be in control when competing one has to go with the flow. It’s the last phase of civilisation. It is one of many beliefs that reflects a culture and within that system we can only try to accelerate economic activity, which will, with fossil fuels, bring us quicker to a bitter end. This will involve everyone eventually in an unimaginable amount of violent turmoil as needs increase on a depleting planet. It’s taking a great deal of effort to end life on earth. On the other hand if we prioritise our survival instead of dominating life, it will be not only much easier, but our children will survive, it will give us self-esteem and a great deal of social satisfaction and happiness within a vibrant ecosystem.
However, we have capitalism and that’s based on financial aggrandizement. So we, the wealthy, the destitute, the learned, and the ignorant we are all in the process of killing “our” planet’s life due to financial demand. To survive we must end civilization before the planet self-emitted so much greenhouse gases due to a higher temperature.
Ability without feelings is the essence of dominance in civilisation.
Science for science sake is knowledge without feelings.
Computers have ability and memory without feelings, a little like psychopaths, but psychopaths have motivation to dominate us.
Those who lack feelings for their fellows will only strive to get an advantage for selves.
To encompass and justify the ruthlessness in civilized societies of various forms, beliefs and legal systems were used that required instituting a narrow focus that enhanced the domineering class’s education and information system that changed according to knowledge obtained from the technology of its civilization. The educated can’t see the whole because it’s a distraction from the particular; the vital issue in a competitive system. There is a strong need to outdo so as not to be outdone. That is a major part of the uncertainty for it’s not competitive if there’s certainty. Social planning, agreement, and helpfulness between individuals and groups is non-competitive and will minimise demand and output; it’s therefore seen as fraudulent, which it is in a competitive economy, but it’s wise, and fair therefore honest in a cooperative system. Competitive systems must be largely unrestrained, creating uncertainties producing psychological problems that have emotional pain, physical illnesses, and waste resources, but it will be fatal in a few decades if maintained. On the other hand, cooperation is assuring, efficient, controlled, and produces a compassionate life. But that’s not possible within civilization so it will have to be a very different world if we are to survive.
This would be impossible if the problem was human nature, but one only needs a glance at all the different lifestyles we had as late as last century and compare the difference. We’d see the very social cooperative extremely peaceful people who had little to no personal position in those few hunter-gatherers who were still left in areas that civilised people couldn’t see anything of value. That compared to any civilised people where personal property is of primary importance. Furthermore, In those bands every one’s character was understood, respected, and were made to feel worthwhile and to maintain that state, hunter-gatherers minimised their personal achievements by stating it was just a bit of luck to equalize the status in the band as the aim is to ensure everyone feels important and valued. The cohesiveness of the band was uppermost at all times; it was their emotional and physical strength. Each band had its own territory, which was considered sacred, like today’s nuclear family one’s home can only be entered by invitation.
So, if those “primitive” people can function well for the common good, what’s the reason we don’t. As mentioned we are knowingly destroying the planet’s liveability. It’s not in our nature except for a few probably less than 1 out of 50 of us who lack emotional feeling thereby can use whoever and whatever to satisfy their desires regardless of consequences if there’s a chance of success. But they can be heroic and assets for society provided they’re not in command. However, we have a competitive society and the best competitors are the ones who have the least feeling for others. So there is a critical mass of people that will change society from an equal power social base to a dominant society controlled by very few people found in all chieftains and civilised societies.
So how can we remove their control of societies as they war the instigator of oppression and wars? Nevertheless, that’s not our primary problem. Ours is to realise what’s going on, it’s the difficult one has historically we’ve looked on civilisation as almost sacred and blamed our human nature for the violence, oppression, and the plundering of people, or things to give a few individuals and associated their desires without responsibility. (“Après moi, le déluge) (“After me, the flood”). But we don’t have options. We have to participate. It’s not only our nature but it’s the only option to satisfy our socialness. The responsibility rests with us but we aren’t given options or the information to understand. Burning fossil fuels has enabled us to do an amazing number of things and support so many people, some in grand style, but we now need to reduce our numbers and our consumption, which is impossible in a competitive milieu. Therefore we need to change our social arrangement to living in small communities in a self-contained and practical way for the time. The ideal sustainable lifestyle that will give people the best life is to live in small highly social communities of less than a hundred adults enabling all adult members to interact and be collectively responsible for all the children’s welfare. It would enable the necessary reduction of our population and it would increase everyone’s wellbeing, particularly for children as living together within all ages the older one looking after the younger one is nature’s way, it used to be the way we spent our leisure time as children before they were organised by professionals. This would relieve the burden of parents without reducing the joy that children can give. Sharing within the group lessens the responsibility as well as increasing the freedom of everyone. The joy it would be wonderful for the young would give security and freedom with a wider experience. This is likely to look fanciful and would require massive changes but the alternative is a slow painful extinction, it doesn’t require any change to our lifestyle to that bitter end.
Unless we come to our senses and live cooperatively that’s controlled by the majority, that’s about 98% of all the people who have feelings for others including other life and our planet that will bring out our real humanity. Otherwise to keep on the present course will create an unlivable planet as it keeps heating up towards a Venus state.
To avoid that fate all we need to do is help each other locally and worldwide, this nearly is everyone’s natural desire and hope. This was so during the WW2 within a few countries when those nations realised they were in danger and needed an all-out effort. Therefore, what we need to do is to be honest in estimating world situations.
Lionel Anet is a member of Sydney U3A University of the Third Age, of 20 years standing and now a life member