George Monbiot is a polemical campaigner who always provides well-documented support for his regular pieces in the Guardian newspaper and his blogs. He has a penchant for colourful phrases that stick in the mind and his piece on 28 May referred to the unwillingness of the political establishment and the mainstream media to discuss the simple mathematical truth that compounded economic growth dependent on finite resources cannot long be sustained. Economic growth means that the search for more of the ever-declining finite resources is accelerating the journey towards global economic, environmental and social collapse. Monbiot’s essay refers to global economic growth for 2014 predicted at 3.1% and examines the likely consequences. His case provides support for the Saving Spaceship Earth workshop slides included on this CASE website.
About the EoE
In the early 1990s a large-scale and very expensive experiment was conducted in Arizona call Biosphere 2 in which scientists attempted to create, under giant sealed greenhouses, a biosphere that replicated the self-regulating life support systems of Planet Earth. It was completely sealed from the earth’s natural support systems and was lived in for two years by eight researchers to see if humans might in the future be able to design such a biosphere for self-sufficient living that might allow escape from our evolved planetary biosphere. In this TED talk, Jane Poynter, one of the eight inhabitants of Biosphere 2 tells of her experiences and what the experiment discovered. here (for both the video and the transcripts in a number of different languages). The story and controversies of the experiment are detailed in Wikipedia here.
There are many serious attempts by individuals and groups to take action, whether personal or communal, on behalf of sustaining Spaceship Earth, as is the case with our CASE initiative whose blog offers links to many of them. The long-established Context Institute is one of these driven by Robert Gilman a former astrophysicist’s passion for community action . Here is an extract from its website:
Context Institute is an independent non-profit organization, founded in 1979 by Robert and Diane Gilman, devoted to helping all of us create the best possible 21st century we can — for each of us, for our communities, and for all of life. We are one of a handful of organizations that have focused on sustainability as a central theme for more than 30 years, and we are internationally recognized as an authority in this area.
Robert Gilman has recently posted a clearly presented, free-online, video presentation entitled “What time is it?” that provide a splendid historical context for how we need to shift our cultures from what he calls the ‘Empire Era’ to the emerging ‘Planetary Era’ –
- Part 1 – System Domains and 1900 To The Present
- Part 2 – Outline of History and Tribal To Empire
- Part 3 – Empire Era and Empire To Planetary
- Part 4 – Planetary Era
- Part 5 – Working with the momentum of history
Each of the five videos lasts between 16 and 23 minutes and all are particularly relevant to the ‘big picture’ thinking that is needed about Spaceship Earth and its prospects. Slides used in the presentation can be downloaded to be used in one’s own teaching. Gilman is still positive about the prospects for a sustainable future: “The reasons our society deals so poorly with the issues we are facing today are a matter of changeable culture more than fixed human nature. The key to understanding the core challenge of our times is to realize that we have inherited most of our institutions, values and concepts from a very different time in history. However well they worked when they were created, they no longer fit today’s contexts: population, technology, economic and environmental . They aren’t working to solve today’s problems because they weren’t developed in or for today’s context. Transforming our cultures to fit our new reality is the core challenge of our times.