Transition to Sustainability
There is a monumental disconnect between the pace of change in Australia and the needed adjustment in a carbon over-loaded world. In all likelihood this shortfall is true for most of the world.
The climate change report for the Australian government by Ross Garnaut (2008) recommends a reduction of 70-90% to achieve a sustainable carbon footprint. Lets say what is needed by 2050 is a reduction of 80%. (1)
Many people put their faith in the use of alternative energy sources such as solar power, wind energy etc.
Graeme Pearman (CSIRO) says using renewable energy sources will relatively easily provide a reduction of 25%. To go beyond that will be difficult.
In Australia in 2007 Kevin Rudd (prime minister) went to the election with a promise of 25% reduction. In Government he reduced that to 5%. Julia Gillard has held with this 5% target.
It is a long way from the required 80%.
If this reluctance to change is reflected around the world we can be sure that the impact of climate change will be felt strongly.
What are the effects we will reap? There will be increases in storms especially of the catastrophic variety. There will be an increase in the sea level. And rainfall patterns will change. There will be more in some places and less in others, but agricultural industries will be upset.
It is impossible to be specific about the details of the impacts. Just where will the impacts be felt most? Where will the tornadoes strike?
Sea level rise is more predictable. We know that some pacific island nations will be destroyed. But the more wrenching impact will come from the inundation of large parts of Bangladesh which is a very low-lying area. Their population of 100 million people could be decimated. Other parts of the world have specific vulnerabilities of monumental proportions.
The indifference of the developed world in dealing with this issue shows the moral bankruptcy of the capitalist economic ideology which guides the dominant nations.
Tim Flannery (The Weather Makers) claims that economists took the view that doing anything serious about climate change was too expensive to be worthwhile. (3) This amounts to ‘the effective murder of members of the world’s poorer populations.’ ( Meyer) (4)
According to Flannery civilization itself comes under threat: “With the impacts of extreme weather events, rising seas and storm surges, extreme cold or heat, water deprivation or flood, or even disease… cities will likewise begin to die…and by destroying our cities bring about the end of civilization.’
‘Humanity of course would survive such a collapse, for people will persist in smaller more robust communities such as villages and farms.’
So the global system is de-stabilized. Capitalism too is showing its vulnerability. European debt woes and the ‘Occupy Wall St ’ protest highlight the situation right now. Immanuel Wallerstein, veteran professor at Yale University says capitalism is coming to the end of its 500 year supremacy in the world of economics. It only remains to be seen what will replace it. (5)
The Progressive Utilization Theory (Prout) is starting to show its credentials as a plan for economics into the future.
A small minority of people across the world have seen the writing on the wall for some time. They are developing the tools of permaculture and so-operative economics to show the way for survival in a time of chaos. But they tend to be still tied to the apron strings of mainstream economics, as they are dependent on manufactured tools and machinery and commercial markets.
When breakdown occurs in the economy we will see the need to harness the energy of our communities, and to find ways to supply goods beyond farm produce. This need has been anticipated by Prout which sees fractions of the population in farm production, in equipping the farm sector for its work, and in using the products in food production. The rural situation becomes the central matter of economics, and other enterprises support it. Think of seeds, nurseries, fertilizer, tools, building and transport, as well as the need for education institutions and hospitals and medical institutions.
Ideally we would make the rational assessment – that capitalism is failing us and a progressive socialism should be built immediately. However as we have seen we are not addressing the issues rationally. We are waiting on the judgments of nature to prove we are making mistakes. In other words we can see that difficult times lay ahead. Most people struggle on trying to carve out a living in this collapsing edifice that is modern civilization. And the longer we put off the day, the more severe will be the chaos we have to live with, whether it is due to civil unrest, economic malfunction, or natural disasters.
A sprinkling of individuals have seen this crisis looming. Among the students of Prout philosophy some have understood that the rural survival centres have to be built now. Prout’s survival centres, known as Master Units, are intended to also be centres of culture. They have a bold agenda of organic farming and community living, spiritual inspiration, schools and social service activities. In this way Prout holds that the predictions of ‘the end of civilization’ are misplaced. Civilization will live on in decentralized rural communities across the globe. These centres, numbered in the hundreds, have been established in many countries of the world, and as the need is more widely recognized it is to be hoped that many more will be established.
In summary cities are in trouble and we would all do well to look to rural situations that can support food production for direct consumption. We need support not just from the land but from the community too, so look for communities where these ideals are prominent. And look up your nearest Prout ‘master unit’ and foster a connection for your mutual benefit!
1. Ross Garnaut, Garnaut Climate Change Review. Cambridge University Press, 2008
2. Graeme Pearman, Greenhouse: Coping with Climate Change, CSIRO Publishing, 1996
3. The Weather Makers, Tim Flannery, Text Publishing, 2005
4. Meyer, A., Contraction and Convergence, Schumacher Briefing No 5., Devon, 2000
5. Immanuel Wallerstein on the End of Capitalism, www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLvszWBf6BQ