I must be one of thousands of bloggers who keep writing about us humans and our very poor and blindsided tenure of this planet.
I have read about a new book written by Lester Brown about the travails of a rising population and diminishing resources. He calls his book ‘World on the Edge – How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse’. This link is to an interview with Brown who heads the Earth Policy Institute.
Jared Diamond talks about how societies choose to fail or survive in his book ‘Collapse’ published in 2005.
Diamond gave a TED Talk on why societies collapse in October 2008.
Diamond agrees with Arnold Toynbee that ‘civilizations die from suicide, not by murder’ when they fail to meet the challenges of their times.
Joseph Tainter wrote ‘The Collapse of Complex Societies’ in 1988. Ronald Wright wrote another called ‘A Short History of Progress’ in 2004.
There are talks and references all over the internet, published on websites, advertised in the print media. People talking their heads off about the actual reality of what is happening in and to our planet – as Sagan said – the only home we will ever know. And, of course, David Attenborough in his speech in 2011 to the RSA, is as passionate as the rest of us. He sees the impact we are having on nature in the direst way. It frightens me, not sure about you.
My Aussie mate Tim Flannery has been banging on as well. He has written many books ‘The Weathermakers’ and ‘The Future Eaters’ are both books that helped to focus me on reality. In fact there are so many knowledgeable and articulate people writing, talking and advising governments on the state of play; trying to cut through the power/wealth structure of government policy makers to ram the point home that there is not much time left before there will not be enough food, water or fuel – the commonly called ‘natural resources’ – to go round.
Think the Murray-Darling Basin with the Murrumbidgee River catchment that goes dry. Think the Nile trickle on reaching the Mediterranean. Or the Colarado’s low levels. Arable land becomes unusable when there is no irrigation water. Food production suffers, people die.
Brown makes four major points:
Firstly – cutting carbon emissions much more quickly than 2050. Failure to do so will destroy the ice sheet of Greenland or the Tibetan and Himalayan glaciers that feed the major rivers of Asia. No fresh water to drink, people die.
Secondly – stabilising population. Either we accelerate the shift to smaller families or spreading hunger will overtake countries and families, which is happening now and the mortality rate starts to rise again.
Thirdly – and allied to population stabilisation is the eradication of poverty which is possible now. These last two really reinforce each other and are imperative if we are to survive.
Fourthly – refurbish and replace the natural support systems; reforestation, soil conservation, water table stabilisation, protecting oceanic fisheries and grasslands.
Everyone who has thought about the imminent collapse of our societies could not help but agree with Green:
“This is important because we know that no civilization has ever survived the ongoing destruction of its natural support systems. Nor will ours.”
- How societies grow old: Jared Diamond at TED2013 (ted.com)
- Ronald Wright: From the ‘myth of progress’, to the near-certainty of collapse (p2pfoundation.net)
- Can You Trust Jared Diamond? (3quarksdaily.com)