I recently watched a video containing some of the most revolutionary and summarizing information on the world’s current situation that I have ever heard so far.
Yes, I have read books, articles and watched movies about changing the world to make a better, healthier planet and humanity, but it’s hard to explain – let alone remember – all of that various information. It’s hard for it to all sit together in my head, even though some of it overlaps or goes hand and hand with one another.
But this guy, as far as I can tell, nailed it.
Paul Gilding, an activist and adviser on sustainable economy, starts off his speech with four words: The Earth is full.
It’s full to the brim. Gilding says while the common plan to solve problems like poverty and conflict is growth, growth, growth (in money, in food production, in companies, etc.), there is a flaw in that sort of thinking: we’ve already grown past out limits. When this overuse catches up to us, you bet there will be some problems.
He also says that technology is an extraordinary resource in communication and prediction, but once this foreboding crisis hits, what help will technology be? If millions or more people are unemployed, if inflation skyrockets even more than it does now, if there are 9 billion people on the planet, if there isn’t enough fertile soil left for crops, if the oceans are too toxic and polluted for living things to thrive in, if more nations are at war or conflict than there are now, if oxygen becomes scarce: what help will technology be?
A lot of people find these propositions astonishingly pessimistic or too outrageous to be true. Because it’s terrifying.
It’s not like it isn’t scary; people have every right to be afraid of this. Our world might not be able to handle us anymore? It’s far easier and less stressful to hide and ignore.
On the other hand, some people think that humans are the greatest, and we’ll be able to solve anything! Technology and we can accomplish the biggest of feats. We can take it…when it comes.
(These people aren’t necessarily wrong; more on that later)
Both of those views have something in common, though: reaction. The first thinks it to be more convenient to wait until the avalanche of problems comes (even though it’s already started…)and react, and the second thinks humans are smart enough to react and conquer the problem, so why worry. According to Gilding, we’ve apparently had 50 years of warning from science and economic analysis: it’s cheaper to be proactive. Why should we wait when we can lessen the impact now?
Because money = happiness, we’re not going to act until it seriously hits the economy.
But even that isn’t entirely true! These overgrowth issues have already hit the economy: rising gas prices, food prices, unemployment, the outrageous number of products we import to America instead of growing/making them here…
It’s hit other places, too: hothothot summers, snow in October (at least on the East Coast), earthquake after earthquake (ahem: Haiti, Turkey, Chile, Japan, Virginia…not in chronological order and there may be more but I forget), hurricanes, that volcano in Iceland, all those Occupy movements, the uprisings in the middle East, countless protests EVERYWHERE….why isn’t this surprising anyone?! Are the present times not just as scary as what could happen next?
The worst train of thought, however, is that these are all individual problems.
These are NOT all individual problems.
How could they be?
Think of the body: if you have a broken leg, is it ONLY your leg that is affected?
You can’t exercise that much (depending on how long you’re in a cast) so you might be fatigued more, or even put on a few pounds if you don’t eat right, you could get bored with lack of activities you can do, you’re work or schoolwork may suffer if you miss days of work/school, this could stress you out, stress leads to a myriad of other health problems, if you have a driver’s license you won’t be driving for a few weeks, which means you can’t go anywhere unless someone else can drive you, maybe your armpits and hands hurt from the crutches or maybe your butt hurts from sitting all day long in a wheel chair ….. you get the picture.
The world is like the body: everything is related. Especially everything that affects humans. Economic problems, health problems, population problems, pollution problems, environmental problems, international conflicts, wars, technological problems, protests….don’t you think they all have something to do with each other?
….how about: US?
Have we forgotten we play a major role in EVERYTHING?
If humans really are the dominant race, as some think, why shouldn’t we spearhead a movement towards a better and more sustainable earth?
Yes, it seems daunting, but as Gilding points out:
“It takes a good crisis to get us going. When we feel fear and we fear loss we are capable of quite extraordinary things.”
He asks us to think of a nation mobilizing for war – specifically after Pearl Harbor. It took four days. Think of how most nations prepared for war: food and energy rations, industries directed toward production of specific items, alliances formed between nations, highly intelligent military and political analysts and strategists map out a whole nation or alliances moves and tactics…
That’s freakin’ impressive. And it is all entirely possible. We’ve done it hundreds of times (Lord knows we’ve had more wars in the history of humanity than that). So why in heck can’t the human race mobilize against ourselves in a war for civilization?
“We can choose this moment of crisis to ask and answer the big questions of society’s evolution — like, what do we want to be when we grow up?”
What do we want to see in our future? A world crumbling or a world thriving? However pessimistic you perceive these words, remember this: those people who thought humans could do anything, they were right. Paul Gilding isn’t narrating a doomsday forecast completely. One has got to notice that he doesn’t say healing these problems isn’t possible. Humans just have to act…not react.
I agree with one of his last few lines in the video: this could be humanity’s finest hour.