Why did I pick sustainability, self-sufficiency and resilience over and above other attributes for the Nature Order Zociety? I wanted to explain myself in today’s meeting and to invite others to contribute to the discussion. The reasons might be obvious but deserved further examination. In order not to lose focus, our group concentrated our conversation on just two aspects: human survival and the future.
At the moment, we are witnessing more and more people around the world struggle everyday with basic survival, like inadequate food, water, sanitation and health care. Politicians and political pundits like to play the blame game, like government corruption, wars and conflicts, bad political and economic policies and misallocations, personal irresponsibility, uncooperative weather or natural forces, etc. The fact is that nobody has ever ascertained exactly how many people can be sustainably supported by each parcel of the habitable land and its natural resources that they are dependent on for sustenance. For the whole world, Cornell University professor David Pimentel estimated two billion but we already have over seven billion right now. So it is a moot point to say that there is enough for everyone but…
Then of course it also depends on the demand and supply. We greedy humans always like to tinker with the supply and never try to tamper the demand. As a result, the disparity just keeps growing without resolving the conundrum of how to satisfy the insatiable human desire for more with the dwindling limited resources of this planet. When are we going to balance the ledger? Who is going to do it? What will happen if nothing is being done?
All these developments have come to a head. We agree that the imminent threat to our existence is climate change, fueled by excessive burning of fossil fuel, driven by overpopulation and runaway consumption, peddled by a self-serving capitalist for-profit global economy. Even if the climate disasters do not wipe us out, the entire natural environment and ecosystem are so messed up and spoiled by human interventions that mass extinctions are happening here and now, and then will eventually ruin us since we are part of the food chain, albeit at the top. It is not a matter of if, but when.
Even as more and more concerned citizens around the world are ringing the alarm bells, the rich countries are squabbling and dithering about how to pay for the solutions and the poor countries have no say and no resources to pay for anything at all. They all look to money and economics for answers when money and capitalist economics are the roots of the problems. While the rich are grabbing more and more for themselves, the poor is relegated to fight for less and less leftovers. No wonder conflicts, fear and insecurity are everywhere. The majority of us are too deprived, distracted, detached and/or disillusioned to even recognize the gravity of the issue.
The situation has reached a crisis of paralysis. If we cannot deal with the problem today, will we do it tomorrow? If we do not have enough resources for the current population, what will happen to the later generations? Why do we not care about the future? Don’t we care about our relatives, family and children who will have their own relatives, families and children after them? Is it right for us to come to this world and leave it in worse shape when we leave? Should we not be the responsible beings who take care of things handed to us? Have we become so selfish and self-important that we care only about ourselves and neglect others?
We all know the right answers to these questions, ethically, morally and logically, but collectively we fail to do the right things. It may be an overwhelming and daunting challenge for any individual, but together, as a human species, our group believed that we can rise up to the occasion, especially for us, the younger generations who will inherit the Earth and face its uncertain outcomes head-on. Whether it will be hell or heaven, we should care deeply and actively do something about it, for us and everyone else, now and in the future.
At this point, we got a little more upbeat and optimistic. We told ourselves that we just had to be creative, resourceful and unconventional. We had to go outside the box and keep thinking and sharing new ideas. We figured that somehow we had to go back to nature to seek the solutions. Nature, where everything there was, there is and there will be, is our teacher. She has been showing us the way for eons. Even as we go astray, she has been giving us hints to nudge us to stay on course. Even as we ignore her advice, she has been issuing stronger and stronger warnings to get us back on track. If only we are perceptive and listen… We know it intuitively that the answer is within our reach.
Nature shows us that sustainability is possible by examples of the water cycle, the plant life cycle and the food cycle (involving the food chain and the food web), which supply our life support system with water, oxygen and nutrients respectively. That is why Homo sapiens have been thriving for at least hundreds of thousands of years. If we follow the rules of nature, the cycles can go on indefinitely. By reverting to sustainable practices, we have a chance to slow down the vicious destructive cycle of climate change and start to reverse and perhaps undo the harm that wrecks havoc on the Earth’s natural systems.
With the change of the natural systems already set in motion, there will be a corresponding increase of variability, unpredictability, unreliability and ferocity of all natural forces. All the chain reactions can upend the equilibrium of the Earth or the norm as we know it, which will bring about a new reality. The fact that we are all set in our ways and not used to adapt over the period of Earth’s more stable time adds to our disadvantage. But it only reinforces the importance that we must prepare now rather than later and relearn to be sustainable, self-sufficient and resilient without delay.
Instead of acting like a sitting duck and relying on the governments or someone else for emergency preparedness and for rescue and recovery after the fact, we can proactively and collectively plan and organize self-reliant communities around the world to withstand even widespread and catastrophic disruptions. Climate change is already upon us. Should we continue to be in denial and delay any practical and realistic actions? Should we try to react and respond individually and hope for the best? Should we support and carry out a well-conceived collective master plan that benefits entire communities and has the best chance of success? Which option will offer us the greatest chance of survival? It seems pretty obvious to our group that if we start to live sustainably, become self-sufficient and build resilient communities now, there is a fighting chance that we can ride out the storms brought about by climate change. As a matter of fact, we will even double down on the SSR. We are voting thumbs up, hands down on (SSR)², which we dub as ‘smart, sensible and responsible’ ‘sustainability, self-sufficiency and resilience.’
Let us imagine what if…