Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chance of a lifetime!

Powerful change!  Extraordinary opportunity!
These will not be the 'boring years'!
  • The last century has brought unprecedented change in the economy and the environment, in population and technology.
  • We face challenges, including that humanity now exceeds the long-term biocapacity of the Earth.  It can't sustain us in our current way of life.
  • Our response to such challenges has been limited as we work through institutions and ideas developed in earlier times. The gap between our challenges and our ability to address them seems to increase with each passing year.  We'll adjust and adapt, of course.
You might notice which national policy issues include consideration of the long-term sustainability question.  Many of our folks deny there are any such problems.  Perhaps they can do so because as a nation, we're wealthy enough to hold the problems and the reality at a distance.  Try looking with a global perspective though, and see what others see.

Making a place for everyone is perhaps the greatest challenge we face now.  Providing one meal a day for our children has become more difficult.  Population growth has been stunning over the last century, and most dramatic in the developing world. 

Energy is the enabling resource for our standard of living.  The next few decades will, of necessity, see radical changes.   We will peak in our capacity to produce fossil fuel based energy in this generation, by optimistic estimates.  Our children will see a sharp decline in energy available beginning around 2030.  We will make adjustments in every area of civilization.  Home, office, roadway, store, farm, shipping, entertainment, mobility, business, travel, all will change. We will adjust and adapt, of course.

UN projections suggest population will top out around ten billion or so in the next decades.  That limit will be triggered by population support capacity more than by any particular choice. Our ability to feed and house  ourselves is limited by energy, primarily, and there are a finite number of locations where populations might be supported as well.  We'll change to adapt.

At least, most of us will.  The worrisome side of such change is that often, personal needs and required adjustments are made by the wealthy because they can.  The poor, of course, are left behind.  Reports this year tell us of the wealthier folks in North Korean making the move to China because food is more easily available there. The poor remain behind where they live in great distress; many die, and some have begun to take their own lives rather than starve.  That's today's reality.  We're in the process of choosing tomorrow's reality.

For now, the wealthy gather themselves and their possessions and say of the rest, it's their fault they're hungry; they shouldn't have so many children, they should work harder, they should stay in school, they should plant more rice/wheat/corn/soy/tomatoes.  The rich draw the line at their borders and say of the rest, "let the rest solve their own problems."  They've discovered that they can indeed walk by on the other side of the street.  "So sad, but not my problem."

Here's our chance!  So, how shall we then live?  And how might we prepare our children?  Does our worldview contain a rational understanding of such things?  Or our theology?  How's our selfish/selfless balancing act these days?  The upheaval is now a given, and as it approaches, we get to choose our response.

We'll perhaps see: 
  • divergent societies - already visible among secessionists, preppers, offgriders, alt economy participants (millions,  perhaps 2-3% of pop now), philosophically now an emerging sub-culture; all good.
  • cultural separation between the 'havers' and the 'doers' - separatists now visible in every professional venue; formalized rebellion against fiscal/social model, increasing dissatisfaction with a pure capitalist market approach; all good
  • disintegration of nationalisms - already visible - embarrassed to be western, searching for non-nationalistic identity; not inappropriate
  • multi-fracture generational disassociations - greater numbers of young idealists drift off the mainstream, some discontinue participation in nation and state; perhaps for the best
  • abandonment of fiscal-centric in favor of member-centric communities/businesses/orgs/gov - we're perhaps a couple of decades into this emergence. The change is strongly opposed by federal and state governments.  'Occupy' is perhaps the recent expression of those most abused.  It's about time.
Large and perhaps a little frightening are the changes we'll see in the next generation.  Shall we let them sweep us and our children along, tumbling down the river?  Or might we take a step or two on our own?

Suggestions on finding our way?  :)

Off in the distance, our goals ...
            Powerful vision

Change makers and help bringers