“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist” – Verbal Kint, The Usual Suspects (originally by Baudelaire).
Similarly, we are all seemingly under the illusion that the solutions to all the major crises affecting our civilisation (for lack of a better term) are yet to be discovered.
– global poverty
– sustainable energy generation
– sustainable food supply
– sustainable fresh drinking water supplies
– declining biodiversity, deforestation, depleted fish stocks, bleached coral..
– climate change
We are somehow led to believe that these solutions that will arrive are technological in nature and just over the horizon. They’re coming, but they’re not here yet. People talk about them as being in the process of being discovered and researched, offering tantalising glimpses to their marvels – and indeed a lot of this technology is marvellous. The only problem is that it’s a bit of a mirage. We’re still looking where the magician has redirected our attention. We’re convinced that the nature of the problem is technological and that it’s a race to get where we need to in order to deal with these impending crises. With just a bit more time, hard work and investment we will soon be able to triumph over this collective adversity.
I suspect many of us want to believe this. In part because these solutions are promising to be the ‘magic bullets’ that we so crave. The wave of the fairy godmother’s wand that makes it all go away and let’s us breathe a collective sigh of relief and get back to what we were doing. That’s what most people in the rich industrial, modern world want.
Let me say in advance that I’m sorry.
It’s not going to play out that way. That is the one scenario that I can guarantee will NOT come to pass. Whatever happens, change is coming. Your life, the way you live it today, will change. Sooner or later, this way that we live will be no more. It will end. Finish. Gone.
Exactly how ‘traumatic’ that is, depends on 1) how attached to this lifestyle you are and 2) how wisely we act (collectively) over the next generation.
Imagine being caught by a surprise gust of wind that picks up the umbrella you’re holding and carries you up into the air. Your first reaction is to hold on – fearing your umbrella is just going to be blown away – but soon it becomes apparent that the wind is lifting you off the ground and carrying you up and shows no signs of stopping. You can already see where this is going. You can hope that a hot air balloon or helicopter will miraculously fly past and pluck you to safety, but the wise move is to just let go because the harder you hold on the worse the eventual fall is going to be. Even if that chopper does fly by it’s going to be fighting the same winds that pulled you off the ground.
Anyway, enough of that analogy, hopefully you get the idea. We have some very serious crises to face up to and our two choices are; the easy way or the hard way. Act now at some cost or act later at horrendous cost. We do it now, we change slowly , we adapt, we get used to a new better way that’s sustainable. We wait and have to face a number of massive crises at once. Many, many people will die and things will get a lot worse before they get better. Your money, your compounds or your guns will not save you.
We need to act now but the problem seems to be that we’re waiting for that white knight solution to appear – the Magic Bullet. It was absurd in warren commission and it’s equally absurd to believe in it now. The truth is that we don’t even need a magic bullet. In fact this waiting for one is the perfect excuse to do nothing. We need to wake up this fact, see the red herring for what it is and the sooner the better.
All the knowledge and resources required to fix these global problems we already possess. You know it to be true. Just look around. Just think about it carefully.
The only reason that most (if not all) of these solutions are not implemented is because of the affect (to greater or lesser degrees) that it would have on our economies – and in particular the ability to generate profit, and thus growth, and so on.
We know how to end poverty. We know how to save fish stocks, stop declining biodiversity, generate unlimited energy from renewable sources and we know very well how to regenerate soils, grow abundant fresh organic food and harvest fresh water. None of this stuff is out of our reach, it’s just unprofitable and therefore inconvenient to a system that is based on scarcity – artificial scarcity at that.
We all know who’s at the sharp end of this, perpetuating the problem, leading the effort to consume as fast as possible – the ‘usual suspects’ – a matrix of government, money, power, vested interests etc. but never forget who’s really in the driving seat here. We are. Ultimately they have no power over us that we don’t give to them.
At some point we are all going to have to ‘man up’ and grow the balls necessary to just do what has to be done and let our imaginary economic or social systems be re-arranged around the harder issues of food, water, shelter and security – rather than the other way around. The question of whether we come to this realisation the ‘easy way’ or the ‘hard way’ is up to us. It’s up to you.