267 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 14 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Path To A Better Future

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Jerry West
Become a Fan
  (3 fans)

My son turned forty years old this week. Reflecting on that made me think of how much things have changed since that day in May when he came into the world at the base hospital at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan. It was a time and place far removed from the world we now live in.

In 1969 the population of the planet was a little more than half of what it is now, and humans were living sustainably, using only about three quarters of what the planet could provide to support them. Of course even though our consumption level was well within the sustainable limits, our economic and social patterns were heading us towards a future disaster.

Very few people in those days seriously thought that humans faced any real limits in their capacity for growth. Those that did often met an avalanche of detractors, and the obvious equation that determines how we can sustainable live was ignored. That equation being that what each of us can take from the system sustainably is limited by how much the system can sustainably produce divided by how many of us there are.

Such thinking was anathema to a system built on the belief that there was always enough somewhere, and any failing was just a question of distribution or inadequate production. The fact that problems can also be a question of over consumption was heresy in a system built on consumption. Instead of reducing consumption as our population increased, or limiting the birth rate and shrinking the population so that we all could consume more, we went for the have your cake and eat it too option, increasing both population and consumption.

By my son's fifteenth birthday we had crossed the line. Global population had gone up by more than a third, and the level of consumption had passed into the realm of unsustainable. As a whole the human race was consuming too much, and individually many of us were consuming way too much in relation to what was available for all of us to share. In much of the developed world, aside from the back to the Earth crowd, the party was still on. And, if you weren't getting it, you wanted to, which is just as bad for those of us who make up two thirds of the world's people who already have more than their share of what it is possible to sustainably produce.

By my son's thirtieth birthday the world's population had gone up to two thirds more than when he was born. Forests, fish, fresh water, farmland and such were in crisis, and global warming was finally on the public radar screen. Not without controversy, of course. Taking responsibility for our environmental collapse and actually doing something substantive about it poses a direct threat to our social and economic system.

Our system is based on growth and the false belief that we can actually create wealth, not just move what is there from one place to another. This is in defiance of reality, and on my son's fortieth birthday it is a belief and a defiance that still dominates much of our thinking, and certainly the business world, and by extension the political world that business money controls. It is a belief that if we do not abandon it, will lead us into a future which none of us should want our grandchildren and future generations to have to endure.

The results of our cancerous economic growth are everywhere. In the state of the forest, the fishery, fresh water, and the climate. Despite the arguments of those still in denial, climate change is upon us, and it, too, is a result of our expanding foot print upon the planet. The truth is that we can not continue to expand, increasing our numbers and our collective demands on the system, and hope to make things better. A better future requires that we shift from a mind set of growth to one of reversal of growth. Anything else is futile.

Rate It | View Ratings

Jerry West Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Jerry West grew up on a farm in California and is currently Editor and Publisher of THE RECORD newspaper in Gold River, BC. Graduate with Honors and graduate school, UC Berkeley. Member, Phi Beta Kappa. Vietnam veteran and Former Sgt. USMC
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

There Is No Cornucopia

The New Feudalism

Environmental Sustainability - The Core Issue of Our Times

Who Put Christ In The Solstice?

Books Are Not Sacred

Tea-baggers Are A Riot

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend