Imagine for a moment that, prior to your birth, your soul knew the conditions of the planet on which you would soon be born. Imagine that you volunteered to show up in this current slice of time and space, because your compassion was full and you knew you had the strength and insight to grapple with the planet's daunting issues and contribute to planting the seeds which would create a new world.
It certainly feels like the world is a mess. Yet, when we look deeply, it appears that our planet is more than a little messed up. Envision that we are constricted inside a rigid Gordian Knot, which is becoming ever-tighter. Will we be able to cut through it in time - while we still can breathe? The essential adventure of our time is the shift from the "industrial growth society" that is consuming the planet to a life-sustaining civilization.
Looking past our day-to-day busyness and perceiving clearly - what do we see?
Authoritarianism and fascism are gaining ground around the world. As an example, the Trump years have left a great many people with depression, anxiety and despair. In a recent large-scale survey, the Mental Health Foundation found that a feeling of powerlessness was, by far, the most common response to global issues. Yet, while our pain for the world alerts us to the urgency of the situation, we may view planetary crisis as beyond our power to affect. This is understandable.
Philip Slater offers this caution:
While arguing that "authoritarianism" is a dying culture, he adds: "but cultures don't die easily and we can expect a long and bitter struggle before the democratic mega-culture is firmly rooted. At some point authoritarians usually resort to violence in resisting democratic change - given their psychological and structural rigidity, it is usually the only response they have left."
Those of us who can "see tomorrow today" are both blessed and cursed with binocular vision.
On the one hand we can perceive a great unraveling. The great unraveling of the early twenty first century includes economic decline, resource depletion, climate change, social division and war, and mass extinction of species.
The bubble of continuing economic growth depends on a continuously increasing input of resources and generates ever-higher levels of toxic waste. The more we push beyond sustainable limits for both of these, the greater the unraveling.In the twentieth century global consumption of fossil fuels has increased at least twenty-fold. Oil has been our dominant fuel and as of 2016 the world was consuming more than 93 million barrels a day - with an increase of 5.9 million barrels predicted in 2021. If we continue at this rate, it is expected that we will use up available supplies within a few decades. An increasing number of people believe that the deep event of 9/11 was a false flag operation, designed to justify and launch a war for oil. Even more crucial to life on this planet, the availability of fresh water is also in decline. A recent United Nations report warns that within twenty years, as much as two-thirds of the world's population could be at risk for water shortages. Meanwhile, an article on Common Dreams entitled, "'The Future We Are Looking At': Wall Street to Begin Betting on Water Scarcity", states that" "hedge fund managers and public water agencies are poised to begin profiting off water scarcity, which experts say will worsen in the coming years in the U.S. as well as other countries."
The term runaway climate change is now used to describe the dangers of our current situation. A professor at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change has warned: "This is a matter of life and death" it's extremely unlikely that we wouldn't have mass death at 4 C. If you have got a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4C, 5C, or 6C, you might have half a billion people surviving."
At the moment, the poor of the world are bearing the brunt of societal unraveling. Around the world, more than enough food is produced to feed the global populationbut more than 690 million people still go hungry. After steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is on the rise, affecting 8.9 percent of people globally. From 2018 to 2019, the number of undernourished people grew by 10 million, and there are nearly 60 million more undernourished people now than in 2014. Meanwhile the number of millionaires and billionaires has exponentially increased, while nearly half the world's population lives on less than $2.50 a day.
In 2020 The fifth edition of Global Biodiversity Outlook concluded: "In effect we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of Earth, and the greatest since the Dinosaurs disappeared, 65 million years ago." With rising pollution, habitat destruction and climate change - a third of all amphibians, at least a fifth of all mammals and an eight of all bird species are currently threatened with extinction.
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