“The world has physical limits that we are already encountering, but our economy operates as if no physical limits exist.” -Christopher Martenson
What will the earth look like in 50 to 100 years from now? To some of us that may sound like a long time, but in reality it will be here before we know it and even if we are gone, the children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren of billions of people living now will still be here.
Think of today, think about the lack of opportunities available to people trying to live free, happy and healthy lives and how many are struggling in various ways to achieve this basic standard of living, leaving millions homeless and begging for decent paying jobs or assistance. Think about the challenges the planet earth and all of its inhabitants have faced since the growth of modern human civilization. Entire species have been eliminated or are currently endangered, entire ecosystems are being destroyed, 75% of our rainforests have been cut down, oil prices are rising as fossil fuels become more dangerous and cost more to extract, and fresh water aquifers lose more and more water everyday.
Now think for a moment what life will be like for future generations as this continues to get worse. Have you ever thought about the change you have seen since your childhood? Think of the places where you grew up that were still vacant and natural areas, now turned into shopping malls, highways and office buildings. I believe most of us can easily say A LOT has CHANGED and is still changing every year. In some ways we can say these changes have been positive, in other ways not so much.
With economic growth comes destruction of one world and the development of another. But is this development sustainable; meaning will it last? Will the future be left with collapsing buildings, crumbled roads and massive landfills? Will the shelves still be stocked in our stores, will businesses even be able to stay in business under a system entirely based on economic growth and profit margins? What’s more important… Economic Growth or Sustainability?
Our Current Economic System
The current economic ideology combined with most governments in developed nations are structured in such a way that without money it is extremely difficult for most people to live. The human species has slowly over time designed and implemented a system where land, water, human and animal labor, products, services and raw materials are given a certain value monetarily and any one person or small group of people can own it all and be defended by laws, governments, police, and military. In some ways or from some perspectives this has been extremely positive by encouraging the advancement of technology and helping many innovative, hard working and intelligent people to live comfortable lives as well as pass this wealth and legacy onto their families. However, it has also created many problems such as extreme poverty for less fortunate families, massive inequalities and the destruction and depletion of the earths natural resources.
Considering the future and the exponentially growing population, I believe we should be asking ourselves a few extremely important questions.
How much of everything is left? How much oil and gas? How many forests, trees and natural habitats are still thriving? How much fresh water is left? How many minerals, metals and materials are left? How much will be left in 50 years, 100 years, 200 years? Who is entitled to what’s left? Who gets to decide who gets what? So, if you cannot afford food or water in 50 years - too bad, you just die of thirst and hunger? Wait a minute, that’s already happening… Did you know that the most recent estimates say that over 850 million people go hungry every day and that every minute an average of 15 people have died of starvation?
Can we as individuals be less wasteful; can we begin to live more future-consious lifestyles? Can we make a difference? Yes of course, but why not question the source of these ideologies as well and find out what caused us to live this way to begin with? If you find out you have some horrible disease you want to treat it right away and do whatever you can to get rid of it right? But an important piece to this is finding out where it came from to begin with for prevention purposes if nothing else. So why do we buy and sell, waste and replace, burn and destroy SO MUCH in today’s world? Did the business leaders, leading economic thinkers & philosophers and governments of the past ever think about the future of the planet or future generations? Are they thinking about it now? Are you?
“We’re constantly bombarded with the claim that we have to keep the global economy growing at 3 percent per year. Anything less than that and economists tell us we’re in crisis. But think about what this means: it means that next year we have to turn more than $2 trillion worth of natural resources and human labor into commodities and sell them… It’s mind-boggling, really.”
What exactly is Sustainability? It’s simple… Sustainability simply means to endure and to last. Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It could turn out to be the most important and urgent issue of our time; the transition from a growth based economy to a sustainable based economy.
Think about it…
If you knew that you only had a gallon of water to last you until next month, would you drink it all today, or save some for tomorrow?
How can we begin moving towards a more sustainable economy?
I think number one, we should get rid of the idea that growth is automatically a good thing.
Number two, we should start cleaning up our mess and replanting trees & vegetation using more sustainable and bio-diverse methods.
Third we can develop the best alternatives possible to our most common products and tools that are made from and constructed in more sustainable ways.
Fourth we can stop wasting and replacing everything and start recycling, creating and re-building.