Posted by: KabeCicero | September 7, 2009

Global Challenges and Sustainable Futures

That’s the name of one of the courses I am attending at the University. Today we had the first introductory lecture pertaining to this course in particular (we had two introductory lectures earlier where students from different courses attended).  We did an values exercise where the opposite ends of the lecture room were labeled “Totally agree” and “Totally disagree”. Then statements were read out loud by the teachers and you had to go and stand somewhere along the continuum of these two positions. This then lead onto discussions of the different perspectives that people had…anyway – following are the statements read and a brief description of my current position in relation to them.

“Technology will save us”
In general I don’t think technology will save us. Having read a lot of material by the world renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell, one of the lessons I’ve glimpsed is that throughout time and ages technology has never been able to save us from ourselves (not necessarily agreeing we need saving – that’s an entirely different discussion though).

“Notice the strong walls of our city . . .
Now examine the inner walls of our city.
Examine the fine brickwork.
These walls, too, surpass all others!
No human being, not even a king,
will ever be able to construct more impressive walls.”

-Gilgamesh, Tablet I, 2IOO B.C.

Notice the strong walls of our city . . .
Now examine the inner walls of our city.
Examine the fine brickwork.
These walls, too, surpass all others!
No human being, not even a king,
will ever be able to construct more impressive walls.
-Gi/gamesh, Tablet I, 2IOO B.C.

If my memory serves me, in his book “The Long Emergency- Surviving the converging catastrophies of the 21st century”, author  James Howard Kunstler talks about how thinking that technology will save us is akin to the magical thinking of cargo cults and draws a very convincing parallell.

My basic stance in relation to this question is that what’s required for establishing a sustainable world-order is based more on a total paradigm shift in consciousness, coupled with a radical shift in values and cognitive processing style. I believe we already have the technology necessary for a total systemic re-structuring of our way of life. Choosing it now though would probably lead to more suffering in the short term while providing a platform for more prosperous life down the road. Most people would rather eat their candy now though…and wait for the shit to hit the fan before waking up.  So the evolution of consciousness is lagging far behind in all the relevant places.  Concluding, the answer lies not first and foremost in technological advances…but rather…within ourselves.

“Democracy is essential to sustainability”
Not the form of democracy practiced today. My suggestion would be to develop a new kind of democracy that is based on a different kind of selection critera. First of all decisions would have to be categorized by their scope of impact and in what kind of systems that impact would occur. You would qualify to vote on questions only relating to the kinds of decisions for which you are competent enough to consider the consequences. The highest level with veto-rights over all others would be the one where people eligible to vote have demonstrated that their top driver-values (the highest values that drive them) are related to the sustainability of the planet as one system, being presently the only body in space known to support the potential of human life. Other clusters of people with different top driver-values will be eligible to vote on decisions pertaining other sub-systems of the planet, however no decisions will be allowed to conflict or interfere with the highest level values.

“I will see a more sustainable world in my lifetime”
This is something I believe and agree with…but…probably not because we shape up and do all the rights things. Rather, I think it will be because of the inherent un-sustainability in the structures of so many of the systems that we depend on as a species that as we continue to try to save those systems we will force them into self-destruction. Chaos will follow. All systems exist on a continuum between equilibrium and chaos. When the internal dynamics of the systems are no longer able to change and adapt to the surrounding conditions it will collapse…this is what I think will happen. Fortunately, over time that will provide the response potential and free the energy necessary to re-structure into more sustainable forms.

“Economic growth and sustainability can go together”
Not with the present economic model intact. As Chris Martenson so aptly describes in his Crash Course , the economic system is  by design required to grow to keep functioning whilst at the same time being based on a surplus of energy and resources that can’t grow (or at least can’t grow anywere near the pace required to keep up). Also the top driver-values embedded into the economic model doesn’t  really seem to be compatible with the necessary drivers to build sustainable futures.


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