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.