I’ve given a lot of thought to the problem of making human culture on planet Earth sustainable. This word “sustainable” is more than just an environmentalist buzzword. It encapsulates an essential truth about the very survival of the human race and most other plant and animal species living on Earth. That essential truth is this: ‘sustainable’ means (among other things) having a future that is worth living. Talking about sustainability is talking about having a future that is worth living.
Keeping Spaceship Earth from being sunk.
Way back in 1989, I actually thought we could save the Earth by doing a few things like being careful to recycle what we could. It’s pretty apparent in 2016 that we’ve got a really scary struggle ahead of ourselves if human life as we understand it can be preserved beyond another 100 years.
That notwithstanding, here is a tuneful plea that I wrote back then when I was performing more, and later arranged and recorded. Recycling alone will not save us, but in spirit, it’s still correct. I’ve included the words so you can sing along if you want to.
Now for every drop of water that goes trickling down your drain,
People won’t you please recycle the resources of the earth.
And for every piece of plastic that is in your garbage can,
And for every can of soda that you thoughtlessly discard,
Bernie Sanders may be an example of the “saving remnant.” But is even this enough?
Stephen and I had a good discussion of the recent Democratic and Republican conventions over breakfast this morning. Part of the reason it was so good, is that I have set down some new rules for myself in serious discussion. I will wait until the person is finished speaking, and if I have something to contribute, I will make sure I am not interrupting. So, most of the time, I can just interject my thoughts, but some of the time, I ask permission to add something, and sometimes—especially if my dialogical companion is in the heat of proclamation—I will just say, “Let me know when it is ok to continue in response to your thought.” Tangentially, it occurs to me that I could teach Chris Matthews of MSNBC a few new tricks.
I’m usually quite skeptical of books or media movements that predict impending doom. This time, reading the book, The Great Disruption, by Paul Gilding, he’s got me thinking soberly about the future of humanity. I bought the online book for less than $10 (now up to $13.50), and I’ve been reading one of the 20 relatively short chapters every day. What first caught my eye about Gilding’s message was his prediction that economic growth is no longer sustainable as a national goal. Here is something that I had thought many times. The news would come on, and I’d be saying to my partner, “They should be talking about quality of life, not economic growth.”
Love the earth or else.
It’s complicated, I know. And probably not much can be done about it. But doesn’t it seem to you that there are too many people on this earth? And doesn’t it seem like the people that are here don’t care enough about the earth? For lack of a better wor(l)d, let’s coin a word after the model of “altruism.” That word is based on an old French word, autre. So what about the word, based on terre, “terrestrialism?” It would have the meaning “selflessly caring about planet earth.”
Jim asks if it is too late to save humanity from hugely difficult environmental changes. He thinks it is.
You probably read the report in Reuters or The Age. The giant Wikins ice shelf in Antarctica is about to disappear. Scientists are agreed, global warming is the cause. Scientists are agreed, human beings are the cause of global warming. This requires commentary. Most of you are not going to like it.