It's the People's Politics, stupid - For the road to contain climate change, just follow the Olympic Torch!
Just imagine, you've taken a snapshot of the world population and put 100 people in a giant plastic dome for a year or two to see how they get on. If you don't know what I mean but you watch a lot of reality TV in between the Olympic build up, then just imagine Big Brother on steroids but without a policy of deliberately choosing the most self obsessed odd-balls in society to take leading roles - then again that sounds quite familiar!
Solving complex problems is all about breaking them down into manageable chunks. The idea behind creating a mini-global village inside a giant transparent dome is to put the sustainability challenges facing the world into a more manageable context and find out how we can live our lives better.
Continuing on from my last blog, if these global villagers had the resources, skills and life experience they would probably try to better their lives through simple measures and tiny improvements, understanding the need to protect themselves and their fragile mini-world and using innovation to develop new ideas and theories. The focus of their actions would be visible and have an impact for all.
Therein lies the challenge of life on Planet Earth Plc. If the ground around the 10 mile radius were able to sustain a closed system for human life, if we were to alter the balance slightly, the ramifications would be dramatic. If we increased the number of villagers we would need more land to grow food. If we cut down trees the air quality would soon become compromised. If we polluted the fresh water, we would struggle to keep hydrated. To be honest, it doesn't sound like we would be able to do much in this situation does it!
Some would doubtless try to form systems of governance, moral direction, social order, specialist skill sets and perhaps an economy. (The paradox of a growing environmental awareness and indebted global economies!) Basically, we'd innovate to enable us to do more by doing less while understanding the 'interconnectedness' of everything and the need for co-operation with, and for, each other and our living environment.
However, although living in a sustainable way makes undeniable sense, there are elements of confusion thrown into the mix when you amplify the global village idea to take into account the entire 7 billion population of the world. Although this sounds like an unmanageable number, they are governed by a very small group of political and corporate leaders.
So how would the residents of the global village live? With just 100 people to get to know each other, would the small scale of their existence lead to harmony and actions for the collective good? Or would the lack of space and seclusion simply reinforce mankind's worst tendencies for self-interest at the expense of others.
Personally, I struggled for many years to find something to believe in; leadership that one could trust. Traditional religion seemed less and less popular and historically greedy and bloodthirsty with under-hand double standards. Global politics didn't appear to have any long-term solutions or direction. National politicians are constant battlers; defensive and often described as selfish, toothless and untrustworthy. Their military remit focused on traditional national values rather than unified global challenges. Corporate bankers and investors suppressing everything and everyone except themselves, funneling into a financial, social and environmental black hole.
I looked at the heroic pursuits of sport, economics and science. After examining everything from gaia and the noosphere theory to environmental impacts of epigenetics, social economics and the causes of global conflict, it appears to me that, slowly but surely, a worldwide collective consciousness is emerging. One that represents more positive human values rather than the kill-or-be-killed values that seemingly underpins the natural world, religion and national military agendas.
Gradually, the ethos of sustainability and innovation is seeping into the public consciousness. For the most part we want to live our lives well. We want to love and be loved, we want to learn and trust, protect our children and encourage good values and best practice from the greater global society. An ethos of sustainability allows us to do that. Life is not and need not be a biological, religious or economic battle for most of us. It's about acting responsibly, to love, to worship and to sacrifice perhaps. To pass on the best of the human spirit, to learn from the past and look to the future and if we don't like what we see, be empowered to act, respond and innovate.
I'll leave you with the word's of Bishop Ethelbert Talbot from 1908. For me, it perfectly captures a vision of sustainable living: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."
As humanity is more able than ever to communicate with one voice, traditional barriers, ideologies and restraints are breaking down and people from around the world are uniting. That being said, although we still have a difficult journey ahead and the road to contain climate change will be difficult in the face of political and economic denialism, the signs are very positive.