Repairing our intellectual ecology

Humanity is currently on a collision course with a resource crisis and global ecological disaster. In the Western Cape, as just one example, we will hit the limits of our water reserves in the next 20 years. (Perhaps then, we’ll finally outlaw golf courses, which are beginning to look like a habit as toxic as smoking.)

If we are to avoid this destiny, then it’s important to take immediate steps like trying to retool our energy economy, re-design production cycles and manufacturing processes, reduce waste production.

But even supposing the miraculous — that the political will to make these shifts is somehow mustered — will this be enough?

A very simple model of our relationship with the world might be this:

Desires –> Beliefs and ideas –> Actions and behaviour –> Material consequences.

To create deep change in our relationship with the world, we’re probably going to have to go beyond simply trying to change behaviour, and look deeper.

Changing desires is possible, but probably mostly within the realm of the psychological, and a subject I’ll reserve for another post.

So let’s leave changing desires for another day, and look at the realm of beliefs and ideas. What beliefs do we have that underpin our current worldview, that have effectively become toxic, and have pushed us into our current crisis? (That’s question one.)

It seems obvious that one such belief is that ‘economic growth’ is highly desirable, and is the single best indicator of a nation’s success or failure.

What are the shortcomings of the economic growth concept, and what might we use to replace it? (And that’s question two.)


About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
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