Monday, November 28, 2011

Now the elections are over time to think of the 'big picture' - only the Greens had real focus on sustainablity!

The earth's climate was changed dramatically by a meteor in dinosaur times, and of course over time there are natural variations, but today it is humankind that is creating a crisis of its own that will effect all nations. So far world wide efforts to face up to this crisis has run up against national interests.

I have just read 'Here on Earth' by Tim Flannery ( author of the 'Future Eaters' and the 'Weather Makers' and Australian of the year in 2007) and his new book is an argument for hope.

The book is a provocative and visionary read providing solutions to the crisis facing us all.

Politics , as exemplified in our recent election, is still locked into selfish and destructive practices that place self interest about the common good - the market still rules although it is obvious world wide it's 'trickle down' theory gas failed - it is more a 'trickle up' - the rich get richer and the poor poorer. Flannery's book is  a warning about worshiping self interest if we wish to live in a fair and equitable society -a warning ignored by National voters in our recent election!

Flannery writes that there are two fundamental sentiments that decide an election - hope for the future , and fear of it. If hope prevails we elect more generous governments but if fear prevails we look inwards to a 'me first' mentality -  Darwinian 'survival of the fittest' ( or the rich). Our future depends , he writes, on which of these ideas prevail. It is worth thinking about the  self destructive fate of the Easter Islanders!

When it comes to surviving we need a sustainable 'win win'  co-evolutionary  cooperative scenario - the Greens best represent this and their followers are growing. Growth at all costs ( Nationals programme it seems)  creates pollution if only by apathy. Farmers and industry spoiling our rivers a good example - our  rivers are like canaries in coal mines. Competition and 'bottom line' rule supreme while cooperation is neglected. James Lovelock developed the Gaia theory describing the earth as a living interconnected self regulating world but , in contrast to Flannery, because of human change is pessimistic about survival of life as we know it.

Flannery's 'History of the Earth'  illustrates we just can't keep shifting our waste from one place to another and tells us that if we wish to keep our planet fit for life then the most humble and routine things we do must change.

We have escaped from co-evolutions grip  and broken free of environmental restraints that protect our fragile eco systems. Since the evolution of humans from Africa  human history has been a tale of destruction but as cultures evolve co-evolution slowly drew them into balance with the ecosystems they created. The problem is humans are evolving so quickly the fate of the environment has been forgotten in the search for growth and personal wealth. Modern humans live their lives, Flannery writes, without the slightest thought about the consequences.

Thankfully their are a growing number of people who who are beginning to realise it this understanding of relationships, rather than our technology, that will determine our fate. Flannery believes that after population the greatest obstacle in our path is lack of sustainability.

Flannery introduces the idea of people who act 'discounting' future consequences of their actions by using unwisely valuable resources and at the same time developing grinding poverty through greatly unequal societies; the rich reaping rewards while destroying other areas of the world in the process. This is a world of greed and markets of unrestrained top down systems - a selfishness that erodes common bonds and futures , and that erodes the value we place on understanding complex relationships.

Future successful countries  will embrace  business strategies with sustainable technology  and social accountability for the benefit of all - policies pushed by both the Greens and Labour in our elections. New Zealand should lead in this development not avoid this responsibility as the almost defunct ACT party was asking voters to do. And poverty should be everyone's enemy in a global world. Countries like Sweden leave New Zealand in shame when it comes to looking after their young - and in Sweden the rich do not mind paying taxes for social cohesion unlike National voters who believe in 'conspicious consumption'.

Well regulated markets build sustainable wealth - poverty is not inevitable. Flannery quotes John F Kennedy who said, 'if a free country cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich' -advice ignored in the USA and New Zealand. New generations, those  currently protesting against the rich world wide,  may develop new ways of thinking about the challenges.

Flannery envisages the day when international governance of our environment will be so complete that we will be able to avoid ecological disasters by providing adequate warnings -   worldwide environmental forecasts  to assist in sustaining life.

Flannery believes we are poised between destruction of our life supporting systems and and our ability to unite to secure our common wealth. He believes that through human history we have shown an ability to cooperate and live in successful communities by sacrificing for some individual wealth.

The climate challenge  is humankind's first test and Flannery believes we now have the technology to develop a sustainable  world. We , he writes, are just beginning to develop this planetary consciousness and if we do then, unlike the doomsayers, he believes the world will be healed and a sustainable life lifestyle established.

Flannery concludes his book saying, 'if we do not strive to love one another, and love our planet as much as we love ourselves then no further human progress is possible here on earth'.

A great read - a great Australian.

World wide politics is the future challenge.


Ozy Mandias said...

While the book sounds interesting as a teacher I cant vote Green's after I have read their policies on Education.

Bruce Hammonds said...

No one asks you to vote for Green - just to think about the planet. Personally I couldn't think of voting for the Government's reactionary educational policy.