A Green World

Sunday, 11 August 2013

My Starting Point

The natural world was perfectly balanced until human greed dragged us all to the cliff edge of destruction. That pessimistically sums up where I think we are but needs expanding, and also needs a bit of optimism about how we get back in balance.

Evolution created a natural world with a vibrant ecology that maximised biodiversity and biomass, (i.e. maximum interest and maximum quantity). I think the book 'Deep Simplicity' by John Gribbin first showed me how this is inevitable for any complex system, such as our ecology. He refers to James Lovelock and the Gaia concept, and along with 'The Selfish Gene' by Richard Dawkins, these formed the foundation of my understanding of how our ecology works to keep things in balance. This balance is not static, but a balance of predator and prey, complex interactions and of genetic diversity moving into competing ecological niches. We humans were part of this ecology.

A feature of this ecological balance is that as the genetic competition hots up over millions of years, there is a boom and bust cycle. Sometimes the bust is triggered by events like a giant meteorite impact, but it seems that the frantic genetic escalation just inevitably crashes once a peak of genetic complexity is reached. Maybe that's what's happening now, with the current mass extinctions caused by human activity. That is if you think of us as just being part of the natural world.

This boom and bust process seems to be a fundamental part of all complex natural systems. Look at everything from the rise and fall of empires, through the life cycle of stars, to the phases of the economic cycle, so beloved by Gordon Brown.

In order to feed our greed, this industrialised economy is consuming resources at an unsustainable rate. In fact the economy also needs our greed for new 'disposable' commodities, which creates economic growth based on credit. This growth is not sustainable, so we get boom and bust, while resources are used up, never to be replaced.

Clearly world resources need to be managed sustainably. I think this has to mean some sort of rationing, and the fairest and easiest system has got to involve quotas based on population.

We humans bring something new to the world. We have the intelligence to predict the consequences of our collective actions. The question is, do we have the collective wisdom to avoid the catastrophic ecological crash we seem to be heading for?

Ten years ago I would have estimated a less than 10% chance of avoiding catastrophe in the next 100 years, but there seems to be a new mood about, an awareness, a gut feeling that people need to change. So now I rate our chances at better than 20% and have joined the Green Party to try and improve those odds even further.

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