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Planet Earth Under Threat

A Compass Bearing

  • Julian Hector
  • 6 Oct 06, 09:42 AM

The tragedy within the Amish Community of Lancaster County Pennsylvania this week brought with it images of their life style. The pictures reminded me of a community of people who for countless years have been content living without the conspicuous trappings of wealth. What can we take from this in the context of our lives and living with climate change?

My heart goes out to the Amish of Lancaster County coping with the loss and injury of their young daughters. But it's neither the appalling events of last week nor their form of Christiantiy that I write. My thoughts on this blog were jogged by the images on TV news - of their wooden houses, their horse drawn carts, harvesting by hand. As I sit here writing and thinking I'm not suggesting that we let everything go, trade in our town houses and head for a sentimental rural paradise (and I'm not suggesting this is the Amish life style) - But it hit me, like a freight train crashing into my life, that we have to go in the direction of wanting less.

WWF reckon that if everyone on Earth were to live with the trappings of the west we'd need three planets to support it. Yes, 3 planets. Look at their campaign "One-Planet Living".

UK MP Clare Short, who was until May 2003 Secretary of State for International Development, told the BBC Natural History Unit in a recent interview that all of humanity should be entitled to the things that we need to give us a good quality of life: access to food, water and shelter - holidays - going to the theatre...what ever it is in our particular culture that gives us a good quality of life, BUT "....we have to cease finding the meaning of life out of more and more goods and wealth....We are trashing the planet in doing so.....And it's making us unhappy".

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a recent interview for us in the BBC NHU made some interesting comments. One of his statements really stuck with me. He said, "It's not just a matter of avoiding disaster [reversing climate change and it's consequences on the natural world], it's about imagining our humanity freshly....we're no longer brains on stalks ...living in an artificial bubble, we're part of a system and answerable to other parts of that system.[...not easy for the West [to change].

Our challenge is to roll out a simpler life style in which we're both happier and more content than we are today - something that one lonely earth can support - And crucially it must be relevant in an urban context, the setting, after all, in which most of us live.

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I agree with you in this blog. Unfortunately, the Republicans and Democrats [as well as the Old Left and Right] with their ambitions will stop at nothing.

At this moment, I read that the Green Party Candidate for Senate Rae Voeggler has been excluded from a debate with the Republicans and Democrats by Wisconsin Public Television.

For people to discuss what to do with saving the Earth, many opinions and alternatives should be heard.

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  • 2.
  • At 02:44 PM on 07 Oct 2006,
  • Kathryn Carr wrote:

I agree with the comments made above. But this is still only talk and until we see some action by world leaders our destruction of our planet will continue unabated. When are we going to see governments put the preservation of our earth before other national policies. If we don't act now there will be no need for the NHS as we will all succomb to some man-made natural disaster anyway. Government policies are all for the short term trying to convince us to vote them into power. I would like to see one of the parties actually using environmental policies as a vote winner rather than relegating it to the back pages of any policy document.

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  • 3.
  • At 05:20 PM on 07 Oct 2006,
  • Julian Hector wrote:

Kathryn and Roberto - Nice comments. The last two programmes of the series are about conservation and futures respectively - How do you reckon we should feature global leadership on climate change. What would you like to hear?

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The issue lies partly in defining 'quality of life'. Unfortunately, our western (if not global) culture focuses heavily on consumerism and holds up as icons those who have become rich upon the same values. Every role model for youngsters seems to equate personal success purely with material gain. Furthermore, governments exacerbate the issue with their own focus upon greed and power, rather than noble achievement. Even war is big business and is often directed with the same cynicism as the globalisation of consumerism. Not wearing animal skins is commendable (if a little late) but this is nothing compared to the damage caused by the industrial giants, hand in hand with government. The occasional politically correct statement at election time is not enough. We need some sort of international organisation to be looking out independently for the future of civilisation in harmony with the natural world. The challenge is how do you keep such an organisation free of corruption and manipulation? Not an easy task, as history shows us.
JA

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I agree with Julian Ashbourn with one exception. Change starts with one person and then spreads. Of course it would help if in the USA [at least] there is a Libertarian Green Multiracial Multiethnic Government.

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  • 6.
  • At 03:10 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Julian Ashbourn wrote:

Carlos reminds me that a number of small changes (by individual action) can indeed bring about a larger impact. Indeed, I practice this by giving over my small garden as a bird and wildlife sanctuary. If sufficient numbers of individuals did the same, it would have an impact upon the decline of species. However, such small scale ideas are often overtaken by larger development initiatives, and this is where we need the higher level of support as outlined by Kathryn. One of the issues here of course is that, politically, no-one wants to own the problem, especially long term. This will not stop them trying to gain political mileage by scant reference to such matters. What we need is something to measure them by. This could perhaps be put together by the international scientific / academic community as a sort of preservation index - for both the environment and civilisation as a whole. An ambitious idea, I admit - but surely not an impossible one? We have to think positive - after all, we are of the same species who built the pyramids and discovered the universe - we can surely do better in this area!
Regards to all,
JA

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My hero, Wendell Berry, considers the Amish the best of farmers. I have never seen land in better heart than in Lancaster County, except perhaps in the Basque country. My heart, too, goes out to them.

For some appropriate words, try
http://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/forward.html

We must surely go in the direction of wanting less.

Vaya con Gaia
ed

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