Is Our Number Already Up?

George Monbiot wrote  a recent  commentary  for the Guardian entitled “Its Simple. If We Cant Change our Economic System, our Number’s Up”.

In that  article Monbiot once again  traces human civilization’s inability to  look  at the reality of our circumstances;  our headlong  race to  “having our number called” because of the  inherent insanity of the  concept of “growth”  and “progress”  in  a  finite world system. It seems  extraordinary  for a  so-called “intelligent species” that  we globally refuse to  acknowledge the inevitable trajectory  of the “growth” strategy  almost every  human  being on the planet has subscribed to.

And not only are we fouling our own  back  doorstep  with  poisons,  the detritus  from our  consumption of  “things” and  the laying waste of the natural  world upon  which  we depend,  we are also  fouling the  world’s upper atmosphere with our “space junk”! We seem determined as humans to  destroy ourselves and all  the living beings we share this planet  with. In less than  a blink of an  evolutionary  eye, homo sapiens have largely destroyed the living fabric of this world.

The logic of this insanity should be absolutely  clear to  every  single human  being on  this planet, and yet  the argument that  ‘growth  and progress’ are anathema to our medium  to long term  survival,  is seen as heresy.   Look  around: the world we share with millions of other species on this planet, is rapidly turning into  a totally homo sapien centric world; where every  living and dead thing exists simply for our use and gratification.  We are rapidly closing down  this planet  as a living entity: – sealing over the soil  with   roads and buildings,  poisoning  the land with   chemicals,  burning pieces of it to spread into  the atmosphere at  colossal  rates, modifying the landscape to  meet  human  needs without regard to  the other species inhabiting  it, digging holes in  the ground so  we can  spread more detritus  over the surface of the planet, killing off innumerable  species to  feed our insatiable appetite-  the list  goes on  and on  and on….

What  are we growing into?-where are we “progressing” to? are we happier?, more contented?, more in tune with the world?,  kinder to our offspring and  other beings?. No;  we are more discontented, more avaricious, more grasping of things we do not have but which  mean  nothing,  and more determined to  destroy both other humans and the environment,  to   satisfy  our short-term greed.

How can  the supposedly so  well-connected  collectivity of humans on this planet have acquiesced to such  an insane model of living? Are humans so  blind that  they  can only see what is immediately before them and the immediate well-being and gratification  of their own species?    Humankind’s current 50 year strategy leads over a cliff.

What  does it take for there to be change?-and will  it be too  late?

We live in a  perpetual cycle of mutual self-justification of our crazy system which  creates a seemingly sane “bubble” of human world activity within  an insane and  dead-end construct. The self-perpetuating myths of  progress measured by  Gross Domestic Product (GDP)  are the  very  measures of change in  countries’ economic activity that  are driving  the world’s living things to  extinction.

Stead and Stead (p1) Joseph Campbell (1988) points out that these myths reflect the underlying  paradigms that guide the thoughts and actions of the people of a particular culture. Espousing society’s myths is a primary function of all of its institutions, be they political, religious, educational or economic. Campbell (1988) says that you can tell the dominant myth of a given society by examining the heights of its buildings. The multi-storey seats of economic activity that define the skylines of our cities today demonstrate that humankind’s most dominant current myth is economic wealth.”

In the  “Common Knowledge”  framework,  a paradigm shift of societal  knowledge can  occur with  the input of just  one new point of reference.
Our lives as social  beings are based on  shared certainties  of how the world works. Because those illusions are no  more real  than  any other “certainty”,  they  can  easily come crashing down, and a new set of “certainties ” or “truths” constructed. Game theory has also often been  used in  the area of economic assumption and speculation.

Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth. For the last five decades the pursuit of growth has been the single most important policy goal across the world. The global economy is almost five times the size it was half a century ago. If it continues to grow at the same rate, the economy will be 80 times that size by the year 2100.  This extraordinary ramping up of global economic activity has no historical precedent. It’s totally at odds with our scientific knowledge of the finite resource base and the fragile ecology we depend on for survival. And it has already been accompanied by the degradation of an estimated 60% of the world’s ecosystems.(from ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’, Tim Jackson)

And yet – despite the hype from corporates and governments, it will be relatively easy for most of us  to  change to  become part of a steady  state  economy. Within  a few decades we will have forgotten  the importance of having the latest  gadget, the  next holiday to  God-knows-where, or the latest fad or food. Small-scale organic farming provides a readily usable model to replace agri-business’ toxic produce, whilst producing   wonderful  benefits to  the world and our  fellow species. We will take our essential equipment for repair, instead of “recycling” to the landfill pit, we will accept as normal that everything we own does not have to be new and shiny, and rely more on local food resources and communities. Yes, the investment banks, multi-national corporations  and billionaires will disappear, but we will all then have the time to re-assess what it means to be human and happy and connected to our living world.



Insecticides put World Food Supply at  Risk
Can Humankind Change the Economic Myth?

Joseph  Campbell  and “The Power of Myth”

The Steady State Economy 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: