To adequately mitigate climatic degradation, population overshoot, and the global proliferation of poverty, hunger, and resource warfare within enough time to avert the rapidly approaching Armageddon, ambitious initiatives well outside our respective comfort zones and personal preferences and mindsets are required. Some would say that Armageddon is inevitable. Some even pray for it, and that the best we can do is prepare for rebuilding a sustainable world thereafter. I just don’t happen to be in that camp, especially when all we need to do is connect the dots.
The technologies, methodologies, know-how or whatever you’re comfortable calling it DOES EXIST. Those technologies simply have not been packaged in a manner that has mass appeal. Without mass appeal, we won’t get people onto first rung of the ladder out of the black hole. And where they go, we all go.
Toby Hemenway identified exactly the same thing with respect to one of those technologies and called in a “failure to provide recipes”:
“To be sure, permaculture’s ethics, principles, and concepts can seem abstract. This is one of the biggest structural stumbling blocks to the spread of permaculture: Only a modest percentage of people think in terms of design and abstract principles. Most people don’t. They want specifics. They want recipes. And there’s nothing wrong with recipes, properly applied.” From “Trojan Horses, Recipes, and Permaculture”.
What Toby identified is, in short, a marketing issue. And I mean “marketing” in its broadest sense – everything from concept and R&D all the way through deployment, market penetration, financial management, technical evolution by monitoring and user feedback, quality assurance, and stakeholder participation. The public wants convenient, easily accessed and traversed bridges to a better, more abundant lifestyle more in harmony with Nature. Creating those bridges is an ambitious undertaking. But it has been my experience that once rational people are provided a bridge to more convenient and sustainable goods and services that make more sense than what they are currently doing, they overcome their own objections and adopt the more rational alternatives (unless they have a vested interest in the status quo or some other hidden agenda). Whether creating those bridges is too ambitious is a question of whether such a vision exceeds the need, resources and capability. A candid assessment would reveal that we have an abundance of all three:
None of us here need to be convinced of the precarious situation mankind currently faces. I won’t bore you by reiterating the litany of dire indicators and impending disasters of which so much has already been written and discussed ad infinitum. Obviously, if we don’t greatly expand our estimation of what is actually required to rise to the occasion and thus fail to take exceedingly ambitious action right now, then failing to redeem ourselves as a species will have justly earned us our own extinction. It’s a duty and responsibility thing.
Social capital: We have luminaries with a great deal of personal social capital who, through their vast networks of influential connections, could bring considerable resources to bare, if they were of a mind to. We each also have varying degrees of social capital within our own networks, some of whom are Mavens and some of whom are Connectors. In any event, our wealth in social capital should not be underestimated.
Material capital: Fortunately, what we do does not require much material capital. We already have the tools, computers and other technologies – especially in the cyberspace commons – to do what we need to do. One thing we’re still missing is a cloud-based ecosystem restoration application, but there’s no reason we can’t create it.
Financial capital: We have billions of dollars tied up in governmental agencies, World Bank-type institutions and private foundations earmarked for social and sustainability purposes. And we have people who know how to tap those resources and have done so.
Living (or natural) capital: Living capital is made up of the animals, plants, water and the soil of our land, i.e. ecosystem services, which were recently valued at $36 trillion globally (rivaling planetary GDP), and which form the true basis of wealth for all life on our planet. Although this form of capital is rapidly declining through mismanagement and destructive practices, our collective intellectual capital can solve that and enable us to share the resultant abundance of living capital equitably.
Intellectual capital: We have the techniques and methodologies which have been evolved over decades. We have open source and other intellectual properties that can greatly increase our efficiency, lighten our labor load, and enable us to communicate, collaborate and coordinate actions instantaneously across the globe. Much of it is freely accessible on the cyberspace commons. For example, Google Earth makes accessible topographical maps, soil maps, watershed maps, hardiness zones, climate change modeling, etc. You’ll be shocked and amazed at the wealth of Graphical Information System data immediately at your fingertips. Or stop by Practical Plants or Plants for a Future‘s awesome searchable databases of plants. Why they are struggling for funding is a crime!
Experiential (or human) capital: We have thousands of trained ecologists, landscape designers, Regrarians, Bioneers, Permaculturists, Holistic Management specialists, etc., etc. all around the world, most of them idle. Their on-site observations, wisdom, expertise, experience, artistry, and human relations skills in creating landscape designs and mentoring to full fruition is an absolutely vital pillar in the process of achieving a sustainable world. We also have 2 billion (and growing) people at the bottom of the economic pyramid, over 1 billion of which are struggling with hunger, in desperate need of an easily accessible recipe for solving their problem.
Spiritual capital: Call it the morphic resonance, the quantum field, the Tao or whatever, but we also share a network of consciousness that transcends time and distance and enables thoughts to become things and memes, and when collectively focused does so almost instantaneously even at disparate locations. The ability to tap that power and incrementally create shifts of collective consciousness would make all the material wealth and power held by the oligarchy pale in significance and has already exposed many a wizard behind such curtains.
Cultural capital: In addition to the cultural capital of ancient wisdom, indigenous cultures and extant constructive cultures, we have the cultural capital described in Paul Hawken’s bestseller “Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming”. This relentlessly expanding global fractal is a juggernaut that, if networked and coordinated, has the power to materialize the world we all want to see.
The capabilities of the above list of capital resources available to us is self-evident. I will therefore not delineate them. However, there is one capability, under the heading of experiential or human capital, that requires special mention due to the fact that it represents THE PRIMARY BARRIER TO SALVAGING OUR SPECIES and thousands of others: THINKING THAT IT CAN’T BE DONE!
And that’s exactly how YOU ENABLE the planetary oligarchy to continue to rape our planet and kill off its life forms, when in fact:
“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” ― Victor Hugo