One day, a few years ago (during the reign of George W. Bush in the US), I had a radical thought about how we might actually survive as a species… I started to talk about my idea, and everyone’s eyes glazed over. It was too big, too far off, too hard to conceptualize… is what they said. But the thought wouldn’t go away…
I, along with many, am very concerned about over-consumption and over-populations – how this effects our species and our biosphere as we now know it. For example, this week I watched the documentary film Building Bombs (1989). I learned the largest atomic bomb making plant in the US (itself the size of Washington, DC) had been burying acres of radioactive waste in cardboard boxes for 30 years.
The waste takes 100’s of years to neutralize and in the meantime, the cardboard boxes are breaking down and leaching their contents into the soil and thus into the Savannah River tributaries and potentially its huge underlying aquifer. What made watching this documentary bearable were the men involved who eventually realized what was going on and spoke out: publicly raising awareness and forcing changes on a large scale.
So what is this idea I have which won’t go away? Ok, I’m going to share it with one request. All I ask is, if you could, please take this vision as it is offered… from my heart as starting point towards the healthy survival of our biosphere and all within her.
What if we all agreed to leave a living legacy to our children’s children 1,000 generations from now? Yes, that would be at least 25,000 years and our sun will be going strong, regardless! What if, somehow, we all agreed to go in this direction, to have something good to pass on to our children and grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren?
- Vision. If you want to accomplish something difficult, the first thing is to set a goal.
- Motivation. The key to survival – for our Earth’s biosphere to continue with a rich variety of life forms including us – is figuring out how to marry our natural survival instincts with an altruism about the future – beyond the lifetimes of any of us.
- Freedom. The goal stands beyond the solutions. There should be freedom to pursue a wide variety of answers at an individual, family, neighborhood, town, national and corporate level.
- Opportunity. We are in a time of opportunity because of crisis and because of hope: the global economic crisis and the election of US President Obama with his call to all of us to take action and be proactive within our own spheres of influence!
Background Assumptions about Environmental Sustainability of Life on Earth
I am very concerned about the degradation we humans have brought and continue to bring to our planet. Currently life as we have come to enjoy is at risk from many angles, for example: global warming; various kinds of pollution including nuclear waste, contamination of air, water, earth; mysterious death of bees and other disruptions in food chain and cycles of life; epidemics and mass contamination and/or extinction of food supplies; war and so on.
The source of the problem in simplistic terms seems to be a) over-population which can be controlled by education and human rights for women and a decent standard of living; and b) over-consumption. Therefore we as a species must learn to control the natural instinct to procreate and all the related socio-cultural-economic forces layered along with this basic drive. We must also face the literally dead-end reality of over-consumption and evolve a new basis for the economy which is sustainable rather than relying on infinite growth.
Some say it’s impossible to change human nature or to actualize solutions for our current habitat crises. Nonetheless, to borrow a concept from Buddhist philosophy, I would say, it’s absolutely logical to try.
© Olivia Fermi, M.A. 2006 – 2009