Green Communities

Musings from the midden and other worthy places: engagement.

Hearing about the changes occurring in Egypt is inspiring to say the least. Indeed, if we needed a reminder to show how effective people power can be, there it is right in front of us. The Egyptian people have decided change is going to be in their immediate future and they have taken action to make sure it happens. Of course it remains to be seen whether they will be successful or not, but they are trying.

Occasionally I revisit books read in the past. Recently I was leafing through The Population Bomb by Dr. Paul Ehrlich written in 1968. From a 2011 perspective some of what he wrote was pure nonsense and some of the predictions and time-lines have been proved to be incorrect. Much of what he wrote, however, has happened or is in the process of happening, in particular the core message there are too many people. He wrote, “The causal chain of the (environmental) deterioration is easily followed to its source. Too many cars, too many factories, too much detergent, too much pesticide, multiplying contrails, inadequate sewage treatment plants, too little water, too much carbon dioxide – all can be traced easily to too many people.” He also suggested the “conservation battle is presently being lost for two powerful reasons. The first, of course, is that nothing undeveloped can long stand in the face of the population explosion. The second is that most Americans clearly don’t give a damn.” I would add, not just about Americans, people are generally too removed from the consequences of their actions to be able to understand the consequences much less do anything about them. Collectively we are not engaged and so it is futile to hope we can get it together to tackle the issues requiring attention. Or is it?

Clearly, collectively we are not good at recognizing actions leading to damaging consequences, our part in them and the need to take action to prevent them. We function with our collective heads in the sand and a crisis mentality. When the problem becomes really bad, when our health and welfare are threatened, when the horses are out of the barn, then we do something. By then of course it is too late. I wonder if the epitaph of the 20th and 21st centuries will be “Too many people and too late.” To avoid such a damning and pathetic epitaph we need to get engaged, climb out of our bubbles, consider the consequences of our actions and yes we can do something about them, if we want to. Egyptian people power has begun a process of political change. We too can cause change to avoid the looming crises. We can boldly go where no one has gone before and we can get it right with informed, responsible, measured and collective action.

I am Steve Tubb