Monday, 18 May 2009

Asking the right questions

I have been wondering lately whether we are asking the right questions. Given that the impacts of peak oil and climate change are likely to be severe (particularly in combination) and that the timescale is short but uncertain, we need to think about what we actually need and what is achievable in the time available.

The question is not how we can maintain our comfortable urban western lifestyles. It is almost certainly too late for that. I think the question we should be asking is how can we survive the oncoming crisis?

We should invest the majority of our resources in adaptation. In the time available to us we need to change our paradigm completely. We need to focus on strategies which will alter us from a consumption-based, individualist, status- oriented society to one which can survive the challenges to come.

We need to envision the future, to create models of alternative societies. To do this we should look forward to examine the needs and constraints that we are likely face. Then, from various past and current cultures we can choose the tools required to meet our needs both socially and technologically. It is vital for us to seriously consider and implement a range of alternative social and domestic models in order to prevent us riding headlong towards the destruction of the majority of the human race.

Since the fall of state communism in the 1990s there has been no serious questioning of capitalism and with globalisation we have spread this model across the world. It is difficult to see how the capitalist model of continuous economic growth and ostentatious display is sustainable in a world with very limited resources. While I don’t believe that state communism is the way forward, we do need more co-operative thinking with more active and direct involvement of people in the processes of society.

Whatever our political views, we need to work together to meet the challenges facing us or face the possibility that we too, like the majority of species that have ever existed, will go extinct.


  1. Our two-party, first-past-the-post political system makes it very hard for elected politicians to make what will inevitably be unpopular policies for our long term survival, despite being well-informed about peak oil. I do despair sometimes.

    I think you are right, people and communities have to work together, I get a bit fed up with survivalist types who think (and I suspect relish the prospect) they'll get through it alone. We don't stand a chance unless there is some degree of communal action and consensus. Have you looked at the work of BioRegional based upon the notion of Bio Regions? This is definitely a step in the right direction but as you say, now we need to run to catch up.

  2. Hi Goo, thanks for the comments :-)

    Given the recent headlines, I wonder if many of our elected officials are seriously interested in much more than serving themselves, but the "next election" must make it harder to take the necessary actions.
    I have looked at some of BioRegional's work. I especially like the urban forestry and local charcoal or wood chip fuel ideas. I think that permaculture and the transition towns movement are also very good and should (and hopefully will) be more widely known, more bioregional communal co-operativ living is essential for us to survive

  3. Kester, In response to your post on Global / Environmental Crisis :

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

    Industrial Society is destroying necessary things [Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land] for making unnecessary things [consumer goods].

    "Growth Rate" - "Economy Rate" - "GDP"

    These are figures of "Ecocide".
    These are figures of "crimes against Nature".
    These are figures of "destruction of Ecosystems".
    These are figures of "Insanity, Abnormality and Criminality".

    The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

    The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature [Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land].

    Chief Seattle of the Indian Tribe had warned the destroyers of ecosystems way back in 1854 :

    Only after the last tree has been cut down,
    Only after the last river has been poisoned,
    Only after the last fish has been caught,
    Only then will you realize that you cannot eat money.

    To read the complete article please follow any of these links.

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

    Delhi, India