Although I found this brilliant book an enlightening experience, I feel that the people who most need to heed its message will not. And though I am still optimistic that the human race will find a way through the coming challenge, I think it is far too late and too impossible for the medicine Gus Speth prescribes to be of any use. Furthermore, the medicine might be worse than the alternative.
In 1994 I made the point on the sleeve notes of “Tripping The Light Fantastic”
“We may think that we make rational choices and take reasoned decisions, but the bitter truth is that we are slaves to the dark hydraulic forces of the Id whose dominion over our often painful little lives is utter and complete.”
During the course of the music we hear the voice of Carl Jung telling us that it is man himself who is the greatest danger to man; “.........he is the great danger we are pitifully unaware of it.”
In 1997 I spoke more directly to the point in the sleeve notes for “White Goddess”.
“The most endangered species on earth is Man. Those who are worried that our race is spoiling the planet for future generations should stop to think a little longer because there will be no future generations if humanity cannot face its responsibilities as citizens of earth.
Instead we should be mindful of what Mother Nature has in store for us. Eventually this loving, tolerant and long suffering mother of mothers will completely lose her rag. Then it will be time for early bed with no tea. It really will.
In the end she will rid herself of this tiresome plague, this nuisance we call the human race and reclaim what has been taken from her as easily as she let it go.
This is the price we will all pay if we allow short term greed and long term blindness to dominate our political and financial institutions.
This is the great challenge and our survival as a species depends on it.”
Now it is finally upon us as we stand at the edge of the world staring into the abyss with unseeing eyes; refusing to see what is so plainly awaiting us. The world is at war with itself: It seems that there is to be no stopping the inexorable pursuit of exponential economic growth as it hurtles forward on a collision course with the consequences of unrestrained corporate greed and weak government.
The generation of children now being born will have to somehow deal with the damage we have done. They will be faced with population overload, irreversible environmental destruction and pollution at an ever increasing rate whilst hundreds of millions are threatened with a lack of fresh water; with spiralling climate change, violent weather, dwindling natural resources and severe food shortages; with rising sea levels, wide scale flooding, energy starvation and increasing global unrest.
The climax will eventually come with bitter genocidal wars as the peoples living in those regions of the world still capable of supporting life fight for their own survival in the face of mass migrations across a planet in turmoil. Only those nations who are not only fortunate enough to find themselves living in latitudes enabling them to escape entirely negative effects of climate change but are also equipped with the technologies, wealth, military superiority and the political will to survive at all costs, will have a future.
Some might say that this apocalyptic vision of the near future is way over the top and there have to be steps we can take to mitigate the worst effects. There are, I am sure. The trouble is that all the available medicine is extremely risky, very unpleasant and would require great personal sacrifice now.
For this reason, I believe no nation is going to do much more that pay lip service to any apparent remedies available. There are no steps that the current generation in power will take because of the consequences for their own lives. No politician or CEO has ever actually sacrificed themselves in order to protect future generations. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas – my generation knows that we will all be safely tucked away in our graves before any of this happens and though we may sentimentalise over our children and our children’s children we are never going to be able to agree to do anything of consequence. The next generations will have to cope with things as they find them.
As far as available remedies exist, they would all need to be draconian to have any real impact. And in any event, all of them that I can think of, however extreme would result in the collapse of our economies and our societies, leaving us entirely at the mercy of each other long before the full effects of the entire aforementioned take place.
One Chance Left
The only way we might possibly forestall the very worst effects is if the youth of the world will rise up and demand action. A Pan-Global coordinated refusal to accept business as usual is the only way. A mass movement of this kind will have to have a single unshakable message with an uncompromising agenda. This is your only chance and I prevail upon the younger generation to take action now.
If we survive, I envisage the future as a smaller world where the rump of the human race will have found a way to live in harmony with the planet, where the emphasis is on a quality of life based on serving each rather than the “me society” and where consumption and affluence are no longer the measure of human achievement.
I envisage a world where natural resources are conserved and governments exercise proper control over the entrepreneurial sectors of society; and where the citizens of this new order will need to be prepared to pay the true cost of consumption. What I mean by true cost of consumption is this.
Currently, when a factory starts operating in a town near you, the owner will only need to take into account the following costs of producing, say, furniture.
He will expect to factor in to his finished armchair the cost of raw materials (purchased from a supplier), the cost of labour, the cost of distribution and storage, the cost of energy and the cost of the factory building, plant and machinery.
What he does not need to take into account and currently gets for free is the cost to the environment, of the impact in the form of pollution, of emissions from transport, of waste disposal, cleaning up dirty air, eliminating nasty smells, and paying for the wear and tear on “the town near you”; as do those who supply his raw materials, the suppliers of energy (pumping out green house gasses), the manufactures of the plant and machinery, the construction company who built the factory - etc etc.
During the industrial revolution from about 1750 when the sea was teaming in abundance, where vast regions of the world lay untapped of their resources, these considerations would have seemed purely academic and irrelevant. But we are now at the end of that era.
The economies of future generations will have to be prepared to replace, compensate and renew all usage of the planet’s largess.
In the fullness of time, our technologies and our intelligence may overcome the mystery of space-time geometry and our descendents may yet colonise the galaxy. And long before that, we will explore and colonise our own solar system where natural resources are for all intents and purpose, unlimited.
Copyright Band Therapy Ltd