4 Aug 2013

Devon Dark Mountain meeting - 28th July 2013 - Laurence’s Musings:

Following our meeting, Laurence produced these excellent notes:

What keeps drawing me to these meetings is the unexpected turns our conversations take. Yesterday was no different. Five of us met up at Culmstock. Topics veered and careered round any idea of an agenda.

A recurring theme was the need to wake up to what's around us. Chris talked about the uniformity of thinking and seeing. 'We live a great deal in a semi-conscious state,' he said. 'Are we really ready to get up when the alarm bell rings?' I think he was talking metaphorically. 'We're no longer seeing living things, but objects,' he added. I shouted, 'Did the rest of you hear what he just said?' In an easy-come, easy-go world, wise words slip by.

Chris paraphrased Krishnamurti: 'In order to learn you have to return to a state of unknowing.' We all need to change our outlook but, on so many fronts, people don't see the need for change. Chris, a one-time probation officer, recalled offenders who said, 'I'll end up in prison again. So what?' They used to slot criminals into 3 categories: sad, mad and bad, though bad could also masquerade as sad and mad! He offered the view that there are people so bad that they have no conscience, no redeeming features and no possibility of redemption. Patrick, whose work involves him in dealing with mentally disturbed people said he couldn't write off anyone but went on to say that one psychopath could take up as much of his time as 1600 others. It came down to priorities.

How do you change attitudes? Frivolously I asked Phil whether he'd ever 'converted' anyone. Chris countered that 'we're destroying the planet at such a rate that we don't have time for conversions.’ It may take a cataclysm to change thinking but Mozz stated it was unlikely we'd have a global cataclysm big enough to affect humanity at all levels for about 20-30 years.

Where does that take us? I hoped that a summary of  the 3 dimensions identified in 'The Great Turning' initiative might help.

The first dimension is 'Holding Actions': campaigns, petitions, boycotts, rallies, legal proceedings and all forms of direct action against practices that threaten our world and its support systems.

The second, 'Life-sustaining Systems and Practices', buttresses the first: rethinking the way we do things, redesigning structures and systems that govern our society and influencing change by our choices about how we travel, where we shop, what we buy, how we save, etc, helping to shape the development of a new economy.

The third dimension, 'Shift in Consciousness' underpins the first two.

The 'Great Turning' people, Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, believe the key to inspiring people to embark on projects is a wellspring of caring and compassion that follows from the connected self and anything that deepens our sense of belonging in and to this world. This might involve insights from spiritual traditions as well as understandings from science.

Essentially we're back to attitudes and, I believe, Dark Mountain's potential sphere of influence, if only the new stories we are supposed to be telling are engaging and potent enough. The big question is how: how to reconnect with ourselves and the planet we so easily forget is home.

There were other strands to our conversation. We bit the bone of whether the world has a meaning. Phil felt there was a purpose behind it. Chris didn't agree. Mozz said you can guess at a meaning but thought it was pointless looking. Phil said you have to believe there's something bigger than us. Patrick subscribed to a deeper meaning. Perverse as ever, I toyed with the idea that everything is random.

We tossed around the business of labelling and naming. Chris said that from his experience the naming of a condition meant he could deal with it. But someone else (?Goethe – see note below) said that naming is the first distancing. Patrick said there used to be 11 diagnoses of mental illness. Now there are 550+. It's easy to medicalise behaviour. Chris said, “If we talk to God, it's praying. if you hear God, you're a schizophrenic.”

It was much easier dealing with the agenda which came down to the Last Festival and

(1) What are the plans for 2014? Do we want to organise a Devon DM Fete (?Fate) to cover the gap. Phil suggested Dulverton Camping Barn and Site as a venue (minimum 15 people) Phil to enquire about available weekends in August.  

(2) How are we to communicate with the wider DM world when the website offers no contact details?  

(3) Where does DM go from here? I suggested that, with the rather autocratic decision to make this the Last Festival, the founders of DM had relinquished control over its future direction. Wasn't it up to us now?!


Mozz's note on words and distancing: John Zerzan said “As soon as a human spoke, he or she was separated”, and Lao-Tzu said “The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao; the name that can be named is not the true name”.  And finally Charles Eisenstein said “Our entire civilization is built on a story, a story of self. The separate human realm is not in fact separate—just look at how it has altered the planet. In the future we will wield the world-creating power of word consciously, to tell a new story, and thus usher in a consciously creative phase of human development.

24 May 2013

Collapse: What it might look like. And how we might respond.

This post attempts to briefly sketch out why and how our civilisation might collapse over the next couple of centuries.  It’s mainly guesswork, but much of it is likely to be true.

Civilisation stands on the brink of collapse.  And what is scary is that so many people appear to be unaware of this.
Civilisations in Collapse

Seeing the signs:

The signs are clear enough. Most people are aware that we are running out of oil, and that we’re a civilisation that is addicted to oil.  And most of us are now aware that climate change is upon us. And yet, since 1990 (when we became aware of its seriousness) CO2 emissions have increased by almost 50%. The global community has made no dent in the inexorable rise in emissions. At some stage the global community will have to respond, and that will have significant impacts.  And the machine of perpetual economic growth is near its end.  The 2007 financial crash might just have taken us into a world of the flatline. And food?  Surely most us must be aware that the combined Oil, Climate Change, and Financial crises will lead to food shortages?

But what about those ecological and social crises that don’t reach the daily news?  The biodiversity crisis - for example - that threatens our survival. 200 species disappear every day; we are in the midst of our planet’s 6th Mass Extinction event. The first such extinction that has been caused by an individual species; us.  Another story is provided by the fact that antibiotics, which our health service relies upon, are increasingly becoming ineffective.  This coupled with the deterioration in human auto-immunity suggests that a future epidemic could lead to millions of people falling ill, and swamping our hospitals.  But this might provide respite for another dilemma; overpopulation.  Global population is set to rise to 10 billion well before the end of this century.

I could have mentioned many other crises; the Energy Crisis, the Debt Crisis, the Arms Trade Crisis, the Soil Depletion Crisis, the Security Crisis, the Corruption Crisis, the Income Gap Crisis, the Poverty Crisis, the Computer Virus Crisis, the Fisheries Crisis.  And I’m sure you will now call to mind a few others that I haven’t mentioned, because I am confident by now that you have got the picture. 

Resources decline:

But I have left the most significant predicament to last.  The Resources Crisis.  We are running out of all the resources that this society has exploited so remorselessly and cheaply in the past to build the current edifice that we ironically call civilisation. In essence, all the raw materials like oil, gas, coal, iron, aluminium, copper, tin, silver, nickel, phosphorus, silica, and rare earth minerals etc. will be become unavailable to us at some point in the future.  The resources might still be under the ground, but they will be in such small concentrations that we will not have the energy or the machines to extract them. And even if we did no-one would have the money to finance it.

"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist"
... Kenneth Boulding.

The following chart is from the New Scientist, a few years back…
How Long Will Resources Last

The civilisation that we know today will cease to exist at some stage in the middle of this century.  But we will start to see clearly the slow decline within the next 2 decades. 

The slow decline:

It’s unlikely that civilisation will collapse like a house of cards.  There is still some resilience in this civilisation. But it will be rocked by successive events from which it will partially recover, only to be hit again.  It is difficult to predict the next crisis; it might be financial, it might be energy or climate related. These big events might happen only once every 5 years or so. But within 20 years, it should be clear to most of us that a pattern is developing, and it is unlikely that we will return to the easy comforts we experienced in that period from 1980 to 2005.

At a guess the slow decline will end sometime in the latter half of this century.  During this period we can expect to see shortages in fuel, food, medicines and consumer items, increasing queues at shops for essential items, the end of the car, public transport breakdowns, brownouts, blackouts, breakdown in gas and water supplies, mass unemployment, hyperinflation, the collapse of national governmental bodies and the increasing insignificance of money.  The National Grid will become unreliable and break down. Computers and mobile phones will stop working. Such technologies will be available only to the super-rich.   Even renewable energy will fail to work without essential rare earth metals.

And all this against a social background of mounting confusion, anger, lawlessness and violence.

Many of us who campaign for a fairer and more sustainable world have realised by now that the collapse will have a good outcome in that the pressure on unstable ecosystems will diminish.  Civilisation cannot be changed for the better, but its damaging progress can be blunted, and if that saves just a few species it will be worthwhile.  A simple way that anyone can contribute to the slow decline is to stop buying anything that is not essential. If 10% of us can do this, then civilisation will collapse a little bit sooner.  But most importantly we will be learning how to live more frugally, which will be very useful in the times to come.

Many people (me included) will rejoice at the decline of this civilisation, as we recognise that it has bought us the luxuries of a comfortable life only at the expense of huge unjustified destruction.  But those that enjoy the lifestyle that civilisation brings will be reluctant to change, and will hang on to its exploitative nature for as long as possible.  And this will sadly result in lawless violence, as times become even harder.  Our society must anticipate and prepare for this. If people know what is on the horizon, they are less likely to resort to the knee-jerk gang culture.

"We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about".
.... Charles Kingsley.

The age of salvage:

Well before the end of the 21st century, a new kind of economy will emerge.  Some of the products of civilisation will survive and remain useful for many years.  Hammers, garden forks and other hand tools, if looked after, will last for a century or so.  Glass will be treasured for its passive solar effect. And there will always be wood and simple tools to cut and shape it. Traveling quickly will require the bicycle or the horse. And that limitation of travel will strengthen communities. For many centuries it might be possible to eke out a peaceful way of living not unlike the American Indians used to enjoy before the coming of the white man.

How to respond positively to this:

Let us put our minds together to see what life we can make for our children”.
... Chief Sitting Bull

Preparation work for the collapse to come cannot start too soon.  We do not advocate the survivalist mentality of taking to the hills and stockpiling essential commodities.  Quite the opposite.  The most important thing is to be fully engaged in the communities where we live.  As national institutions break down, local forms of organisation will become crucial.  Initially local authorities will be able to play a useful transitional role in ensuring that people don’t go hungry, and are secure. And friendly police forces might be needed to deal with the increasing possibility of violence and lawlessness. 

We will need to focus on those things that are essential:
  1. Wholesome Food.
  2. Clean Air and Water.
  3. Shelter.
  4. Warmth.
  5. Friends and Conviviality.
  6. Music and dance.
  7. Love.
  8. A Mission.
We will need to acclimatise to a world without non-essential luxuries.  How long will it take us to realise that we can live quite well without the mobile phone?

Most of us will need to learn new skills, as specialist hi tech jobs become redundant and pointless.  There are obvious skills like gardening, cooking, sewing, knitting, basic building, mechanical engineering, caring and the ability to make rudimentary energy.  We will need to recover our ability for story-telling, because as the old civilisation collapses, we will want to invent and tell new stories in order to educate ourselves about the new civilisation to come.  We need some guidebooks for the future.

The Gift Economy will ultimately replace our reliance on Money.  Cohesion in our society will inevitably rely on generosity. The gift economy is about using what gifts we have for the well-being of our friends in the community.

There are some things we need to plan for now.  In the immediate future, there will be no cheap fossil fuels. In the long term, even hi tech renewable energy will not be an option.  The energy future is wood for warmth, intermediate technology and 12 volt electricity.  We need to plant millions of trees now, so that they will be ready for burning in 50 years when we need them.

Prophesy of Doom?

Of course many people will react to this prognosis with the view that this is just doom-mongering. But I feel like the doctor who knows that the patient has got cancer, and believe it’s the responsible choice to tell the patient the truth, so that he can prepare for the rest of his life better informed.

11 Apr 2013


"Happiness is dependent not on producing as much as possible but on producing as little as possible. Comfort and understanding are dependent upon producing only so much as is compatible with the enjoyment of the superior life. Producing more than this involves a waste of mankind's most precious possessions. It involves a waste of the only two things which man should really conserve--the two things which be should use with real intelligence and only for what really conduces to his comfort. When he destroys these two things, he has destroyed what is for all practical purposes irreplaceable. These two things are the natural resources of the earth and the time which he has to spend in the enjoyment of them."

Above all, this civilization is ugly because of the subtle hypocrisy with which it persuades the people to engage in the factory production of creature comforts while imposing conditions which destroy their capacity for enjoying them. With one hand it gives comforts--with the other hand it takes comfort itself away.

Ralph Borsodi--- This Ugly Civilization    1929

22 Mar 2013

The awesome destructiveness of the smartphone

A recent business article in the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jan/06/smartphone-sales-1bn-2013) suggested that 1 billion smartphones will be manufactured in 2013.  Indeed they say that 2013 will be the “year of the smartphone”. This will add to the 1.2 billion smartphones already in existence.  Considering that the implementation of this technology is only 5 years old, this is a meteoric rise.

It might be as well to start looking at the implications of this, as we would not want to go blundering into a potential problem without considering the pitfalls.  Amazingly no-one appears to be aware of the horrendous problems caused by smartphones.  We need to lift the lid on this destructive gadget.

A good place to start is to look at the component materials that go to make up a smartphone.  The list is long, but some of the materials require deeper investigation.  For example Indium and Gallium; Rare earth metals that enable the touchscreen to work so sexily that they give the smartphone its unique selling proposition.  Without rare earths, I’m sure the smartphone revolution would not be taking place right now.

Indium and Gallium:
Indium and Gallium might be termed rare earth elements but they are not that rare and can be found in many places on the planet.  But there is one catch, they exist only in very small concentrations (hence rare), and the amount of rock that has to be extracted and blasted to get to the Indium and Gallium is huge.  And thus starts the inventory of environmental damage…
·         Huge amounts of energy being expended (and that is principally fossil fuel energy);
·         Ecosystems being destroyed, stripping of forests, and creation of mining wastelands;
·         Disruption and subjugation of the local population and indigenous peoples who very often just happen to be in the way. Sometimes this involves covert slaughter of these people.
·         Disposal of huge volumes of mine “tailings”;
·         Pollution of river courses;
·         Pollution of the sea.
A further problem is that the mines are always located in countries that have an appalling record in environmental protection.

At the moment China accounts for 97% of global output of these precious rare earth minerals, with two-thirds produced in the remote region of Inner Mongolia.

The picture on the left shows a toxic lake, 10 sq km in size, near the town of Baotou, where there is a smelting plant which produces hundreds of chemicals that are used to process the 17 most sought after rare earths. No fish or algae will survive in this lake, and the shore line is covered with a black crust that is so thick it can be walked on.

The lake also contains radioactive elements like Thorium which can cause cancers of the pancreas and lungs as well as leukaemia.  Since 1958, when the smelting plant was built the area has been devastated.  There used to be farms here where watermelons, aubergines and tomatoes were grown.  Not any more.  Local  people now have to inhale solvent vapour, particularly sulphuric acid, as well as coal dust, clearly visible in the air.  The population of the nearby village of Xinguang Sancun has fallen from 2,000 to 300 as the farmers have moved out.

Indium is mixed with Tin to form Indium Tin Oxide (ITO); a principal component of touchscreens.  More recently Gallium has been used for touchscreens, in this case mixed with Arsenic to form Gallium Arsenide.

Tin appears to be an innocuous material, but isn’t.  Research from Friends of the Earth has unearthed the ghastly environmental impact of Tin mining on the tiny island of Bangka in Indonesia, where much of the world’s tin comes from. Their investigations found “shocking evidence of: dangerous conditions in the unregulated unofficial mining sector, with police figures showing that an average of one miner died a week in 2011; destruction of lush forests and farmland and little restoration of mined land, leaving soil in which it is difficult to grow crops and craters filled with mosquito-attracting stagnant water; and uncontrolled offshore dredging destroying local fishermen's livelihoods, killing coral and the sea grass eaten by turtles”.  Tin from Bangka is found in Samsung and Apple smartphones.

Smartphone batteries are most likely to be made of lithium, a toxic substance that shouldn't be thrown out with the rubbish.  But sadly this happens a lot, as many people are not aware of the WEEE Regulations. Almost every landfill is packed with discarded lithium batteries. But it doesn’t stop there, because the battery will need to be recharged daily, thus consuming massive amounts of principally coal-generated electricity.  (More on this later when we look at the carbon impact of smartphones).

Tantalum is another rare earth mineral which is used in the integrated circuits of smartphones.  Most people will know of this through the name “Coltan” (or Columbite-tantalite).  Wherever mining occurs, there are always huge environment and social problems that stem the political nature of the beast.  And in this case the story of mining Coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo is sadly no exception.

It is clear that the presence of large Coltan reserves in the Congo is fuelling the bitter war between militias from Congo, Ruanda, Burundi and Uganda.

The United Nations noted in its 2001 report on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Congo that "The consequences of illegal exploitation has been twofold: (a) massive availability of financial resources for the Rwandan Patriotic Army, and the individual enrichment of top Ugandan military commanders and civilians; (b) the emergence of illegal networks headed by either top military officers or businessmen."

The working conditions for the workers are atrocious.  Coltan is laborious to mine, as it takes about three days for the workers to march into the forests to scratch out the ore with hand tools and pan it.  The mining process is lawless and uncontrolled. The health and safety of the workers is non-existent, but the tragedy is that casualties are not recorded because of the warring militias which create a climate of fear.

Because of uncontrolled mining in the Congo, the land is being eroded and is polluting lakes and rivers, affecting the ecology of the region.  Miners are far from food sources and have been hunting gorillas. The Eastern Mountain Gorilla's population has diminished and is critically endangered.

Nothing electrical can survive without copper.  There is no other substance on the planet which conducts electricity like copper.  But the mining of copper is associated with probably the most heart wrenching environmental and social damage of all.  One of the world’s largest Copper mines is located in the mountainous rainforest of West Papua.  Operated by jointly by Freeport and Rio Tinto, the mine is located in the mountain of Jaya Wijaya (the mountain where the souls of the dead find their rest).  Even though it is remote, it is clearly visible using Google Earth.  The mine has ripped the heart out of the sacred mountain of the West Papuan tribe’s people.  The removal of the indigenous tribes from this area of West Papua has entailed the killing of about 200,000 people over a period of 30 years.  The mining security firms, aided and abetted by the Indonesian Army which absorbed West Papua into Indonesia in 1969, have been responsible for clearing the huge area not only of the rainforest, but the people living there.

Further investigation of Google Earth will show the course of the mining tailings; an orange sludge that travels south down the now toxic river to the Arafura Sea.

Sustainability: Peak Indium, Peak Gallium, Peak Copper and Peak Everything:
Mining the precious minerals that go into smartphones is just not sustainable, by any definition of that word.
The Brundtland definition of sustainability is "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The Aalborg definition is “the rate at which we consume renewable and non-renewable material, water and energy resources should not exceed the rate at which the natural systems can replenish them”.

Either way it is clear that we are extracting these materials at a grossly unsustainable rate.

As a result Peak Indium and Peak Gallium will occur before 2030, Peak Copper about 2040, and the vast majority of most materials on the planet will be economically exhausted before the end of the century.

Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation:
As smartphones rise through the technological spectrum; 2G to 3G to 4G, so the resultant electromagnetic flux increases.
In the words of Spanish biologist Alfonso Balmori of the Institute for the Environment (Consejería de Medio Ambiente) in Castilla y León “the electromagnetic field is a perfect secret agent: you cannot see it, you cannot smell it, you cannot hear it, you cannot feel it, and its effects are slow but relentless”.

Very few people die from the electromagnetic flux caused by smartphones and their transmission equipment, but the health of everyone inside the electromagnetic field will deteriorate inexorably.

Climate Impact:
It is the climate impact of smartphones, where the scale of the problem becomes starkly clear.

According to WattzOn the embedded lifecycle energy of a typical smartphone (in this case an iPhone) is about 219kWh. In order to calculate the CO2 emissions we need to apply an emissions factor.
It seems sensible to assume the emissions factor for China where the smartphone is likely to come from and where most of the constituent materials come from.  This is 0.764 kgCO2/kWh.

This calculates as 167kg CO2 per smartphone.  (219 * 0.764)

Multiply this by a billion (1,000,000,000) for the mobile phones to be manufactured in 2013, and the total carbon cost of this single technology works out as 167 million tonnes of CO2 per annum. 

To make it clear, this is equivalent to the annual emissions of the Netherlands.   Let’s make this clearer.  In the short space of 5 years humanity has invented a new technology that is now adding the equivalent carbon emissions of a country the size of the Netherlands.  And that carbon burden is growing at an exponential rate, because the replacement rate of smartphones is of the order of two years, (for some it is an annual upgrade) and increasingly people have more than one smartphone.  And in addition to that we are adding even more intensive technological gizmos, like Kindles and Tablets.

But let’s put this in a more frightening context:  In order to avoid dangerous climate change we need to limit global temperatures rising above the 2 degrees C threshold, humanity needs to start reducing all greenhouse gas emissions, by about 3% every year.  For Western nations like the UK, that reduction needs to be sharper; somewhere between 5% and 10% per year. 

That is a year-on-year reduction. Even in a world-wide recession greenhouse gas emissions are still relentlessly rising.  Smartphones are simply not compatible with the immediate endeavour to avoid dangerous climate change.

So what can we do?
Clearly we need an immediate world-wide ban of smartphones and similar gizmos.  I really can’t see this happening anytime soon. But as individuals we have a choice. We can reject the technology, and make the decision not to purchase a smartphone.  For some this will be a hard decision.  Others have already made that commitment.

But I want to make this decision unequivocal.  Can you openly buy a smartphone if – having read the above article – you now have a full understanding of the awesome destructiveness that this gizmo inflicts on our world and our future?

30 Jan 2013

The Myth of Progress: 100 Global Mega-Crises all attributable to Civilisation…

The following is a list of just some of the truly serious problems we face today.  They are not in any particular order. Some are huge, some maybe not so.  But they are all part of the growing multi-faceted disaster that can be attributable to one cause; Civilisation.

And most significantly this convergence of these crises cannot continue for another 30 years without threatening the very survival of our species on this planet....

1           Climate Change, Sea Level Rise and Arctic Melting
2           Peak Oil and Gas
3           Resource Depletion
4           Over-population
5           War
6           Growing Gap between Rich and Poor
7           Famine
8           Increasing Desertification
9           Coral Bleaching
10        Tree Death
11        Rainforest Destruction
12        Topsoil Erosion
13        Habitat Destruction
14        Loss of Biodiversity
15        6th Mass Extinction of Species
16        Increasing Waste Arisings
17        Radioactive Waste
18        PCBs
19        Dead Rivers, Lakes and Oceans
20        Increase in Auto Immune Diseases
21        Heavy Metal Poisoning
22        Increasing Pollution
23        Obsession with Economic Growth
24        Ponzi Economics
25        Unsupportable Debt (Government, Business and Personal)
26        Poor Diet and Deteriorating Health (Physical and Mental)
27        Reliance on Pharmaceutical Drugs
28        The Surveillance State
29        Corruption of Politicians
30        Media Control of Politics
31        Global Power Elites
32        The Arms Trade
33        Narcotic Drugs and Desire to Escape
34        Terrorism both Real and Induced, the Culture of Fear
35        Global Corporate Monoculture
36        Sweatshop Economies
37        Torture in Prisons
38        Alienation of the Dispossessed
39        Destruction from Mining Operations
40        Increasing Complexity of Technology and Society
41        Trivialisation of Lifestyle, Celebrity Culture
42        Increased Gambling
43        Child Pornography and Exploitation of Minors
44        Nuclear Weapons
45        Nuclear Power Station Safety
46        Nano-Particles
47        Genetic Modification of Food
48        Extreme Energy – Fracking and Tar Sands
49        Geo-Engineering
50        The Love of Money
51        The Gun Culture
52        Water Stress
53        Global Food Shortages
54        Graffiti and Vandalism
55        Sexualisation of Children, Sexting
56        Over-Fishing of the Seas.
57        Exploitation and Killing of Indigenous Peoples
58        The Israel-Palestine Problem
59        Homelessness
60        Advertising Everywhere
61        Street Riots
62        Obesity
63        Christmas Consumerism
64        Infringement of Civil Liberties
65        Racial Hatred
66        The Plastic Island in the Pacific
67        Bullying
68        Loss of Children’s Play
69        Light Pollution
70        Climate Denialism
71        Food Waste
72        Retail Therapy
73        Human Selfishness
74        Free Market Capitalism
75        Suicide
76        Mass Killings
77        The Revolving Door: Big Business and Politics
78        Right Wing Extremism
79        Intolerance of Organised Religion
80        Planned Obsolescence
81        Institutional Violence
82        Apathy
83        Lack of Purpose in Life
84        Cheating
85        Irrational Love of Technology.
86        The Desire for More
87        The False Need for Full Employment
88        Mistrust in the Police
89        The Blame Culture
90        A Sense of Hopelessness
91        Growing Gang Culture
92        Antibiotic Resistance
93        Chemicals
94        The Theft of the Commons
95        Acid Rain
96        Authoritarian Bureaucracy
97        Security Mindset
98        Rape
99        Excessive Television
100      The Inability to Connect the Dots
101      … add your own.

The network of mega-crises above covers both cause and effect, and the issues are interlinked and converging. All the predicaments very often appear to be unsolvable, and in many cases are not even being tackled by society as recognisable problems. 

But they are in effect the same problem.  The Problem of Civilisation.

And it’s important to realise that our current Civilisation cannot be saved.  It is – by definition – unsaveable.  It can be blunted, however, and that is our immediate priority for survival.  If we fail here then this Civilisation we have created, will take us into a new Dark Age, marked by chronic warfare, starvation, ecological collapse and abject misery for the world’s population.

Underlying this “Problem of Civilisation” is in fact just one solution;  Re-connection.
Re-connection with nature. Re-connection between ourselves. And re-connection with the spirit of life itself. 

In reality what this means for each and every one of us is two-fold.
  1. Resistance:  We must resist wherever possible the worst examples of civilisation.  Not to reform civilisation (that is impossible) but to prevent civilisation’s destruction completely engulfing us.
  2. Rebuilding:  We must rebuild communities from scratch with shared values of sustainability, equity, simplicity, and peace.
Well before the end of this century, whatever happens, civilisation in its current form cannot exist. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: “What will we choose to take its place?

More details on our choices will appear in future posts.

We leave you with some wise words about a beautiful world that our hearts tell us is possible …

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing
… Arundhati Roy

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”
… R. Buckminster Fuller