New York Time columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, “We don’t have a ‘gasoline price problem.’ We have an addiction problem. We are addicted to dirty fossil fuels, and this addiction is driving a whole set of toxic trends that are harming our nation and world in many different ways. It is intensifying global warming, creating runaway global demand for oil and gas, weakening our currency by shifting huge amounts of dollars abroad to pay for oil imports…destroying plants and animals at record rates…..”
More fundamentally our problem is that six billion people (10 billion by 2050) are addicted to the consumption of our alive, interconnected, and interdependent planet.
That is not sustainable.
Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute, Washington D.C., wrote, “A sustainable society is one that satisfies its needs without diminishing the prospects of future generations.” Sustainability is the moral issue of this generation.
We will change how we think, and we will figure out how to live sustainably on this planet or we will not. Either way, something spectacular is going to happen. If we change, most of our immediate problems–energy, economic, and world affairs–will fade away. We will experience a new renaissance of ideas and relationships and an indefinite future. Nothing less will save our way of life and perhaps the young of today and the unborn of tomorrow.
People I believe (Al Gore, scientist Jim Hanson, philosopher Daniel Quinn, & explorer Will Steger) say we have 10 to 40 years to change. If we don’t change, the momentum that carries us to possible extinction will be too great to overcome. Without change, within 200 years we may perish as a species or a few islands of prosperity and privilege may survive surrounded by a sea of misery and violence. We need to move quickly and boldly.
We are experts at denial. We like quick and easy fixes to our problems. We expect magic or God to rescue us. No hero or heroine will rescue us. No miracle will save us. We are responsible for our collective fate. The great threats of climate change, population growth, species extinction, resource depletion, and global poverty have called for change for a long time. Are we ready to listen and to change how we live together on this planet?
Some signs offer hope. Global warming and the economic and national security threats posed by fossil fuels are in the forefront of our presidential election. As we consider which candidate’s vision for energy independence is best, consider Buckminster Fuller’s Law: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” In other words, we should not try to continue our dependence on fossil fuels. To do so only makes the problems greater. We should instead move to the solution on the other side of today’s problem and that is a full transformation to green energy sources.
Change will be difficult but ease or difficulty is not the issue. The question is: are we ready to change or not? If we are ready, we will get behind a new vision for the renewal first of the United States and then of the world and we will do what is necessary.
We put a man on the moon eight years after John Kennedy challenged the nation. We can be free of foreign oil and produce 100% of our electricity from renewable energy within 10 years.
Whatever we do, something spectacular is going to happen soon. We will experience an evolutionary bounce or an evolutionary crash.
Arctic Explorer Will Steger told area residents last fall: “I like situations that are do or die. We are in that situation now. I have faith in the human spirit.”
(Heuerman, Ph.D. is a consultant, former Secret Service agent, and Star Tribune executive. He lives in Moorhead, MN. Read more of his essays at http://www.amorenaturalway.com, www.viewfromfargo.blogspot.com)