Monday, May 2, 2011

Can Civilization Survive Industrialism?

An increasingly frequent and quite disturbing occurrence are the public pronouncements from people who should know better, such as climate scientists and environmentalists, that nuclear power can be a solution--temporary or otherwise--to our energy woes and quickly collapsing economy and environment.

NASA's Jim Hansen is the latest to join James Lovelock, George Monbiot and the other high-priests of the Church of the Techno-fetishist at the Rocky Mountain Institute in shilling for continued exploitive development with the myth of a need for green economic growth. Some people are pointing out that Bill McKibben seems to be not far behind. Even Lester Brown of all people has called for a need to protect and reinvigorate economic growth as long as it's done "greenly."

Why would otherwise intelligent people be advocating a return to the normal that brought us to the edge of this cliff, albeit with a fresh coat of green paint?

Is a green apocalypse (sustainable apocalypse, anyone?) really any better than what the captains of industry and their financiers have in store for us? The left likes to disparage religious fundamentalists, but the Green Divas' vision of a techno-rapture seems to be every bit as divorced from reality. They say their goal is to save civilization from the imminent collapse that is becoming harder to deny, but that's just a cover story. What they're really trying to protect is Industrialism, and it makes no difference whether the economic system at its base is capitalism or socialism.

Industrial civilization, which requires constant economic growth, which means continuing to regard Earth as both an endless supply of resources and a bottomless pit for waste, has become conflated with the concept of civilization. Intentionally destroying one's life-support system is just about the best definition of insanity I know of. It is anything but civilized.

Although, as we start discussing alternatives we must also keep in mind that civilization as we know it has some rather glaring shortcomings apart from Industrialism--just ask an Indian or any of the other peoples who have experienced genocide for land grabs. Or, open yourself to feel the suffering of other species and the planet itself from the onslaught of unrestrained growth, resource extraction, towering mountains of toxic waste, and festering pools of radioactivity just so a CEO somewhere can build yet another summer home in a protected wetlands.

One point I keep reiterating is that Industrialism is actually anathema to civilization, regardless of how Industrialism is powered--nukes, fossil fuels, or photovoltaics. It requires economic cannibalism in its single-minded drive to grow and subsume. Industrialism (not to be confused with technology) devalues both people and planet, and the underlying paradigm it emerges from--force based ranking hierarchies of domination and a pathological sense of the other--must be delegitimized and replaced.

Industrialism, however, is only one disease whose symptomology expresses in the wounds of empire. Others are spiritual transcendence, scientific reductionism, and various stripes of dualistic dichotomies that all assume a linear, mechanistic, disconnected universe that is unfriendly to life--at least in the here and now.

Yes, it is somewhat mind-boggling that Western minds claim this to be true--the latter point especially--while simultaneously insisting that they're rational.

Fortunately, there is a systemic alternative to all of this. It entails reconnecting with nature (our inner nature, each other, our communities, other species, and our living world--our planetary life support system) and relocalizing our communities and economies as a foundation for change. Reconnecting and relocalizing will improve quality of life for all life. This alternative is solidly based in the systems science of non-linear dynamics in an interconnected and interdependent universe, employs the principles of steady-state economics, and works with and benefits from the self-organizing tendencies of living systems to create mutually supportive relationships. Thus, it would require less energy and effort to make available more of what really matters in the human quest for progress and prosperity than the status quo of Industrialism can even dream of.

Which brings up the other point I keep repeating--we must realize that economic growth and increasing market share are not necessary for either progress or prosperity. We could quite rationally decide to shift our focus to becoming better instead of bigger. If we were to factor in all the waste in the current system, and add in planned and perceived obsolescence, the rational conclusion is that we don't actually need all the energy we're producing today, let alone additional capacity from nuclear power. Standard of living would hardly be affected, and quality of life would measurably improve.

Becoming sustainable does not necessitate moving back to the cave. Should we decide to keep our wits about us (I know, little historical precedence, but that doesn't mean it isn't possible) sustainability and technology could co-exist. We must start being intelligent instead of restrictive regarding family planning, and realize any industry deemed necessary in a sustainable future will have to be clean and zero waste to meet one of the basic tenets of sustainability: The ability to stay within the balance point among population, consumption, and waste assimilation so our life support system can recharge and regenerate.

The systemic alternative I'm advocating is perfectly in keeping with true human nature. It would allow the innovation of an inquisitive, intelligent species to truly blossom as it would no longer be shackled by the limiting, self-serving growth imperative. It would focus on creativity, compassion, and nurturance; it would seek to fulfill our senses of community, belonging, and acceptance instead of offering addictive substitutes and creating pharmaceuticals (or building more prisons) to deal with the pathologies that arise (greed, aggression, narcissism, etc.) from withholding natural expectations for fulfillment in order to further consolidate wealth and power in the hands of a self-selected elite.

This latter system is the one that we the people must exercise our power to withdraw the legitimacy we have granted it. We can, and must, start implementing a practical, affordable alternative that can rationally, emotionally and spiritually provide the fulfillment we seek in both expressing and achieving our potential.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Who is more delusional, the Left or the Right?

I had a very interesting conversation the other day with a Republican activist--a true Republican, not a Tea Partier. I was explaining relocalization from a political perspective, and she replied that this was a message that Republicans needed to hear, as it tends to resonate with traditional Republican values (think Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt).

She was also wondering if I had any thoughts on how Tea Partiers in general could so willingly accept statements that had no basis in any aspect of reality that pertains to the known universe we spend our daily lives in, and if there was some core defect in that particular political demographic.

Now, I don't generally have a problem with being thought of as a lefty, at least along what is generally accepted as the political spectrum today. Even though I prefer to think of myself as neither left nor right, but out in front (definitely NOT the middle), I had to point out that the left today exhibits the same defective cognitive tendencies in accepting utter nonsense as if it were truth.

The example I used to make my point was the increasing "disappointment" with Obama policies now that the hopium has just about worn off, even though the rabid core of the Democratic Party continues to mindlessly defend him.

Let's honestly examine the facts known before the 2008 general election. Obama is an Ivy League lawyer (not a show-stopper in and of itself, of course, just look at Van Jones. But let's connect some more dots). His campaign received major donations from BigEnergy (hmm, this should start raising some red flags over allegiances as well as ideologies). Finally, he was vetted by the center-right Democratic Leadership Council--over Hillary Clinton, no less--before he was allowed to win the Democratic primary. As this latter fact is the real show-stopper, why would people be disappointed that Obama was doing exactly as he was trained, and is expected, to do?

The left, and especially the liberal elite, rather staunchly refuse to address the fact that we have less freedom today, fewer social liberties, and a larger and more powerful police state under the US's first African-American president than we did under the presidency of Ronald Reagan--and we can no longer blame it all on bush jr. Our overall greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise as fast as the rhetoric of a green energy economy. Corporate welfare is further entrenched with the insurance industry's disease care medical model and the left accepts it as health care reform.

For pure comedic value, though, Tea Partiers do take the prize. Keep your grubby gum'mint hands off my Medicare. The tendency of the radical right to accuse Obama of being a socialist fascist--a contradiction in terms which displays their ignorance of both political terminology and history--is every bit as ignorant as the left claiming Obama has progressive tendencies. Calling Obama a socialist is somewhat mind-boggling when you consider that no actual socialists think that Obama has a single socialist bone in his body. He is a corporate stooge and staunch defender of the status quo Kleptocracy and their agenda of free-market imperialism.

A reality based politics would have today's right embracing Obama much more enthusiastically than the left does, and I'm far from the first to make this observation. But we find ourselves in the rather depressing situation where a carnival freak show has been substituted for rational political discourse, very few seem to have noticed, and even fewer seem to care. What's there to worry about? Wal-Mart is still discounting cheap toxic plastic crap from Asian sweatshops and local governments still give them millions in tax breaks and exemptions for the privilege of covering the health care costs of their minimum wage part-time workers--and this is the economic "normal" both right wings of the Corporate War Party want to return to as the minions on both sides cheer them on.

So, which end of the political spectrum is the most delusional? It sure looks like a toss-up to me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Monbiot Goes Strangelove

A number of people have already commented on environmental writer George Monbiot's recent coming-out for the captains of industry with his fresh and exciting love affair with nuclear energy. So, I don't want this to seem like piling on, but this issue isn't going to go away as long as we (Western industrial humans) continue to cling to the growth myth, or even continue with the assumptions that "economic recovery," "increasing energy demands" and a "return to normal" are even in our best interests--either short or long term.

In his article, Seven Double Standards , Monbiot starts by asking why we don't hold other forms of energy to the same standard we're trying to impose on nuclear. So, let me start by giving the short answer--because they don't produce thousands of tons of radioactive waste for which we still don't have a feasible method of disposal. Low level radiation is not the issue. While most of his seven points are good ones, especially why we unquestioningly accept deaths as a matter of course in the coal industry, they are mainly a distraction from the questions we should be asking.

Monbiot is within the environmental majority in seeing the benefits of greatly reducing our overall ecofootprint. I believe he genuinely cares about the welfare and well-being of people, other species, and Earth itself both now and for the future. He believes that anthropogenic global warming and the reasonable probability for disastrous consequences accurately describes reality and that the status quo response is wholly inadequate.

But, like so many others today, he frames his response to life threatening crises in the terms and with the assumptions of the dominate paradigm that created these crises.
It is taken as a given that human ingenuity will rescue us and we can go on with livin' large in a green economy using clean renewable energy--never mind those pesky little concepts like entropy, conservation, and finitude.

While more accurate than many over the years in his description of the damage being done and the sure likelihood of further increases in destruction and suffering by staying the course of business as usual, Monbiot doesn't seem willing to lay the blame on Enlightenment thinking, let alone examine the deeper roots from which this mindset emerged and is being nourished. He falls rather firmly in line with Maggie Thatcher in claiming There Is No Alternative. Even though Monbiot insists this isn't what he's saying, he pulls in references from others who also claim abandoning nuclear power will surely result in increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Monbiot believes in a false dichotomy that comes straight from industry PR when saying the only two possible options to increasing nuclear energy capacity are to either burn more fossil fuels (and we agree that's a singularly bad idea), or "To add even more weight to the burden that must be carried by renewables."

Now, there is no doubt that industrialism is a burden on renewables. But, surprise, industrialism is a burden on humanity and Earth. There is also no doubt that human ingenuity must be pressed into service, and starting to do so sooner rather than later would be a singularly good idea. However, stating these are the only two possible paths for humanity's energy future is a case study for the opposite of ingenuity.

We don't need the majority of the stuff that's being produced (let alone new versions every six months), and we don't need wars of empire. Dealing with those two issues alone would remove the need for any new nuclear power capacity, remove the need to replace reactors ready to be decommissioned, and remove well over half of the need for fossil fuels. If we were to start producing what we do need to last and be easily repairable, implement some sensible conservation measures (like not keeping our cities lit up like a cheap Nevada whorehouse at night), and decentralize (but remain standardized and safety regulated) the energy grid, we'd be just about down to an energy demand that renewables are already producing today and well within their ability to pick up any additional slack if needed.

Then there's building our homes and businesses to require less heating and cooling instead of using the cheap ticky-tack construction approach, and all the other low-hanging fruit options everyone is already familiar with. Estimates are that these will get us 23% of the way down to where we need to be just on greenhouse gas emissions, so they're a good idea regardless of their additional energy savings.

If we also factor in the high percentage of people leading lives of quiet desperation (Thoreau) (without which the travel industry couldn't sell "getting away" and would become a mere shell of itself)--those 50% of Americans who take at least one prescription drug per day, and which led to America being ranked 149th out of 150 countries on the UN happiness scale--we start to see even more clearly and completely how much less energy we actually "need". Because if what we're doing now isn't making us happy, will doing even more of it make us happy, or just a whole lot unhappier? After all, it is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society. (Krishnamurti)

When is the environmental left going to become willing to start supporting organizations and electing representatives who are willing to speak this truth and begin implementing the relocalization alternative that can be shown to improve quality of life? To help people understand that sustainability has real meaning and that it is within the capabilities of humans to decide to start moving in that direction. One thing I can pretty much guarantee is that we won't develop a sustainable future as long as people who should know better keep insisting that it either can't happen or isn't necessary.

Mainstream editorial writers are starting to talk about the need to at least switch fuel sources "without either bankrupting or enslaving the citizenry." (M.D. Harmon, Portland Press Herald ) They realize that biofuels are too expensive to produce without government subsidies, but then the logic flys out the window. We don't need Saudi oil, we just need to lift the ban on drilling off-shore and in ANWR. We need more nuclear power plants, lots of them, really fast. Our demand for energy must be met, and this demand must continue to grow for the sake of the economy--often coupled with the myth this is the only way to lift the developing world out of poverty, with poverty narrowly defined against a Western consumerist model. Sanity seeps back in slightly when they admit we sure can't look to the government to solve this problem, but disappears even quicker with thinking that capitalism can be counted on to solve our energy problem, as long as all regulatory and environmental fetters are removed.

The willful ignorance of the supposedly educated and well informed never ceases to amaze, and mortify, me. Don't call for conservation, don't call for efficiency increases (in the product, its manufacture, and its use), and don't insist on using the Precautionary Principle. Don't think about any of the other factors I mentioned above, and definitely don't call for ways to do more with less. And whatever you do, don't dare mention that the problems we're facing with rising energy costs, shrinking supplies, and increasing biospheric toxicity are a direct result of capitalism's growth economy in support of Industrialism. This is economic cannibalism. Its only logical consequence is ecocide while material wealth continues its upward consolidation into fewer hands until it finally catastrophically implodes.

The only unknown is which will occur first. The implosion or a biosphere inhospitable to life.

It's time to honestly look at the damage our energy demands are doing to the environment and to our spirits. And then to examine the implementation of a rational alternative.

It's time to shift the foundation of the debate. It's time to discover the dynamic resiliency and increased opportunities in steady-state local living economies. It's time to start strategizing to power down, instead of sucking up every last iota of fossil fuels--or shifting even a fraction of the "demand" to the more potentially destructive nuclear industry--in order to support overly consumptive and wasteful lifestyles which require an economic model of infinite growth to service debt that has absolutely no basis in reality. It contravenes the laws of physics. It's not just loss of habitat and species being driven to the brink of extinction, but the ability of the biosphere to support life as we know it that's being lost as we keep breaking links in the food chain simply to continue corporate profits, keep the GNP graph on a positive slope, and the ruling elite firmly in control as they continue to successfully carry out class warfare.

The degree of madness that underlies this frenetic activity is approaching the unfathomable. And it seems to have terminally infected even the best minds of the environmental left.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Press Conference Statement

I was invited to speak today at a press conference organized by the peace, justice, and sustainability community to examine the tragic events of this past Saturday in Tucson that left six people dead and 14 more wounded. Representatives from 14 groups delivered prepared statements. Following is mine.

My name is Dave Ewoldt, and I'm the executive director of Natural Systems Solutions. Our work emerges from the field of ecopsychology, and one focus is the use of natural systems principles to facilitate the transition into a sustainable future. It is in that context that I prepared my remarks.

We are exhibiting many symptoms of a very sick society. Foremost today, of course, is that we're destroying our one and only life support system to continue an entirely irrational system of infinite economic growth on a finite planet. But, there's another symptom of our cultural pathology that I want to address today.

The rhetoric of hate and fear is propagated and enticed by the only interests that it truly serves--elite power and control hierarchies. These special interests maintain their control by keeping us divided against ourselves. Whether you are a member of the Tea Party or the Progressive Movement, the problem is not big government, but bad government--a government that has been bought by corporate and financial interests that put profit and power before and above people and planet.

Today's so-called conservative movement, which it should be apparent has nothing whatsoever to do with traditional values that seek a better future for all--that has both Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt turning in their graves--has adopted the language of war and retribution; a language that seeks to settle differences by "targeting" and "taking out" your opponents; a language that normalizes violence, aggression, and exploitation for personal benefit; a language that divides and pits us against each other in order to keep us too distracted from where the problem really lies.

We are a culture that sanctions death. We illegally invade and occupy sovereign nations that don't play along with our business interests, and use unmanned drones to drop bombs on civilian populations. We are the arms dealer to the world. Our death... I mean defense... industry and prisons are the only growth sectors left that we don't outsource and off-shore in our economy.

But what is most important to realize in a culture that has lost its way is that there is an alternative to all this that we could consciously choose. While it may sound strange to ears long accustomed to the story of scientific reductionism, materialism, and separation that has emerged from Enlightenment thinking, the alternative follows known patterns of mutually supportive ecological relationships that have been working quite well for billions of years to keep the project of life itself progressing. This alternative starts by no longer allowing those who act against our best interests--against the best interests of life itself--to dictate the terms of the debate.

We could decide to focus on those aspects of being truly and fully human that work with the creative life force such as nurturance, compassion, cooperation and use our intelligence to focus our innovative spirit on creating a sustainable future. A future based on the principles of ecological wisdom, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy. We can no longer afford to continue denying that true justice cannot exist without sustainability, and without justice there will be no peace.

Otherwise, our days will continue to be filled with too many that resemble this past weekend. The choice is up to us, and change begins by making new choices.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Truth Needn't be Scary

For those of you following along at home, Erik Curren has responded to my response. (also archived here) The primary third party to this exchange, Dmitry Orlov, has posted some additional comments on this exchange as well.

A quick semantic clarification is in order, especially regarding my own writing. I don't consider the immanent end of Western industrial civilization--the Industrial Growth Society--to be equivalent to collapse. I tend to think of collapse as something bad. While Western civ is causing collapse in many areas, such as with the rampant biodiversity loss that's breaking numerous links in the food chain, and there's a high probability that it will cause collapse in ways we haven't even thought of yet, ending an era of domination, exploitation and destruction I find difficult to put in the category of collapse.

I'd first like to thank Erik for this opportunity to continue engaging in an intelligent conversation to allow clarification of points. This demonstrates that we're in agreement on quite a bit. The "What I know" section of his response points out many of these areas.

I sure don't know what the future will look like either. But I do know that if we apply a rational framework that is based on the natural systems principles that ecosystems use to become sustainable, we can guide human societies in a direction that works for life in general instead of mainly for the elite control hierarchies that have gotten us into our current mess.

I also know that when the non-profit my wife and I run started doing public screenings of the documentary End of Suburbia in 2004 that it woke a lot of people up. You could, in many cases, quite literally see the fog lifting from people. EoS connected a lot of dots and supplied some badly needed missing information that mainstream sources would rather ignore and deny. Admittedly, the attendees at these screenings were mainly an educated crowd--whether university or self-learners was irrelevant. They were either already aware that the status quo was dysfunctional, or they had that uneasy sense that things were amiss and would rather do something about it other than take any of the culturally popular mood-altering drugs and pretend that everything was just fine.

So, yeah, in American culture today this makes for a small, but growing, percentage of the general population. There are various reasons for this, well known to students of Western culture--the dumbsizing of public education, the debt trap of consumerism which requires longer working hours, the distractions of pop culture, the effects of the world's largest experiment in operant conditioning known as advertising, and the fact that modern psychotherapy focuses on making one feel sane about living in an insane world. It also helps when you can rig an economy so that one's best chance of obtaining a higher education means first taking your chances as cannon fodder and being subjected to military indoctrination.

Something else I know in the area of economics is that our current economy is based on fairy dust. Whether people listen to Nicole Foss or Jeff Rubin means little if their primary goal is to guide speculation in wealth accumulation. The fact is that we're not in a recession; we're at the end of an historic period in Western civilization. And Foss comes much, much closer to speaking this truth than Rubin does.

I also know that we don't need a source of power--at least one that comes from a centralized grid or contributes to the degradation of the natural world--to keep from shivering in the dark. We know how to build extremely efficient zero-carbon homes--they just can't be slapped together in a week by a group of half-drunk minimum wage high-school dropouts and are thus less profitable to the growth lobby. The Inuit managed to survive just fine without Consolidated Edison. But even if this isn't the lifestyle of choice for many people, a technologically advanced society can exist within the carrying capacity of their supportive ecosystems. They just have to be honest about that balance point among population, consumption, and waste assimilation.

The attempt at arguing $225/barrel oil means people can no longer afford insulin is both a strawman and a red herring, as well as a thinly disguised argument in favor of maintaining the status quo. Decent public transportation in walkable cities instead of Lexus payments--as well as not taking on mountains of unnecessary consumer debt in the first place--would allow people to afford their insulin. More importantly, if they were to stop eating processed death foods and washing them down with high-fructose corn syrup that has a few cancer agents plus a neurotoxin and an endocrine disrupter thrown in for color, flavor and preservation they might not need the insulin in the first place. And, of course, getting off their duff once in a while would be a big help too.

Using John Michael Greer in an appeal to authority argument doesn't carry much water either. In a conversation with Rob Hopkins, that I also weighed in on, Greer takes a viewpoint that since we can't forecast the future, that planning is both a waste of time and gives people false hope.

As Curren points out in his "What I know" section, the rapidly accumulating evidence that we are about to slam into a brick wall is becoming inescapable. So Greer's position that rapid collapse is unlikely and we'll have a long, slow, multi-generational descent--I guess because he doesn't want to frighten anybody either--ignores what we know about tipping points, and are coming to better understand about feedback loops. Due diligence is indeed what we should be doing, and post haste. Unfortunately, Greer seems to be advising people to do the opposite.

Giving up on society doesn't automatically mean grabbing your family and locking yourself into a bomb shelter. What I'm talking about is giving up on the failed assumptions of Western industrial civilization. There's a big difference. When coupled with the rational alternative a systemic implementation of relocalization offers, the benefits of a different way of creating our social relationships points to a positive way forward that feels good to participate in.

In Curren's selective quoting of Yevgeny at Club Orlov he rather conveniently skipped the most important final phrase in that quote. "[B]ut that's only if they find enough fuel to get there and back." I'm always having to point out to people that the gangs of Los Angeles aren't going to invade Tucson because we're more than a tankful of gas away. The Sonoran Desert is going to be littered with lowriders, and they're going to be wishing the racist Arizona legislature hadn't shut down all the immigrant water stations.

Because something else I know--from direct experience--is that if you take the time to honestly lay things out for people, they get it. This works best if you first take the time to listen to their concerns and hopes. This is how I ran my campaign for Arizona State Senate this year. I ran as an independent on a platform that used relocalization and steady-state economies as the only rational response to peak oil, global warming and corporatism, and although I lost, I gathered support from across the political spectrum. Neither the Democrat nor the Republican candidate would debate the issues, and spent most of their time talking about how bad the other was. But after every forum or other speaking engagement, I'd have a handful of people come up to me and say I was the only candidate making sense, and that it was so refreshing to hear someone speaking truth and offering actual alternatives. These were people I'd never met before, i.e. they were outside the choir.

Now, some people are just very deep in the consensus trance, but many of the people I've talked with over the years who say "Don't scare people, they can't handle the truth, they'll just shut down," turn out to be stalwarts of the status quo of growth and empire, even when they insist that they're really dog soldiers for the peace or environmental or whatever movements. The conditioning that declares growth and material accumulation as necessary for progress and prosperity runs very deep, and the artificial stimuli that enforce this worldview are constant and applied in myriad ways.

Which is actually one of the things that underpins my optimism, strange as that might sound. Studies in operant conditioning show that as soon as the artificial stimuli are removed and/or the subject is returned to a more natural environment, subjects (from any species) revert back to more natural behaviors much quicker than it took to train them to act against their nature. Other studies show that neuronal growth and new pathways occur in as little as 45 minutes by simply enhancing one's environment. Literacy and the ability to successfully challenge the status quo can take as little as three weeks. There's no reason to accept that the change we seek is going to take generations, or even decades, to come about. And it can start as simply as turning off your TV and attending a meeting of your neighborhood association.

We have the ability to rapidly change. It seems that what we're really lacking at a cultural level is the motivation, which a full set of facts can help provide. So I very much agree with one aspect of Curren's message. We must become better communicators, and use many different communication techniques and styles. One thing that using the models and metaphors of natural systems shows is that there is a whole lot of diversity, so a one-size-fits-all "solution" isn't going to cut it.

Some people are better at certain tactics, some people respond better to certain stimuli (some of the lessons of operant conditioning can be useful), we're all at different points of awareness, and some people respond faster than others. One of the problems I have with any of the stage models of change or development is that they tend to ignore individual differences, that change doesn't have to be tepid incrementalism, and that people have the ability to quickly jump to advanced stages while skipping intermediate stages entirely.

As Derrick Jensen so correctly points out, change begins by believing in it, not by talking ourselves out of it, and definitely not by talking others out of it--and I might add, or the style with which they're most effective.

And for the record, while I support the transition movement as a step in the right direction, I'm not committed to it. I am one of the co-founders of Transition Pima--a Transition US regional hub--but what I'm committed to is getting back in balance with a living, sensuous Earth which relocalization--a practical and affordable process to create a sustainable future--could do when combined with reconnecting with nature and steady-state local living economies.

Hopefully we can make the transition to a sustainable future fun and exciting and all that. It doesn't have to be about sacrifice and austerity (except for people who just can't give up the bankster mindset). And in fact, when one honestly examines what passes for Western "civilization," it's not hard to come to the conclusion that sacrifice and austerity is its modus operandi.

I think most people would quite willingly give up their body burden, despair, and the lack of time to develop any type of meaningful, lasting relationships with family, friends, community, and environment. The truth needn't be scary, especially when there are alternatives to the dysfunctional status quo to be offered. But we must be honest about how much damage we've already caused, about how it's come to be, and about what we could start doing differently. Because what we're facing now is a global Truth or Consequences.

Peak Oil: Apocalypse or Promised Land?

The Energy Bulletin published on November 24 the following response I wrote to an article by Erik Curren, which was first published on Transition Voice which you might want to read through first for the full context, and especially to some of the articles Curren links to as they provide good background information on what we're facing.


I found it rather hard to tell what point of view Erik Curren is actually arguing for or against in "Peak oil risks becoming an apocalyptic cult." But it seems to be don't tell people the truth as they might ignore you, or even worse, laugh at you. So, let's browse through the sections of Curren's article.

First off, though, if we can't honestly admit that staying the course means slamming into a brick wall at high-speed before the wreckage sails over a very high cliff we won't make the necessary changes to do any more than stave off the inevitable--at best. The reality of the global situation today is that if you're not scared, you're not paying attention.

Predicting collapse becomes a pretty safe bet considering how far into the overshoot range we are--in the areas of population, consumption, and waste generation--and the fact that our "leaders" still believe we can get away with even more of what got us into our current dire straits, coupled with their insistence that we're not actually in dire straits, but even if we were, some whiz-kid will invent something to take care of it and we can all happily get back to the normal that created our dire straits in the first place. This is the type of optimism that makes pessimism redundant.

Curren starts out with a refrain that is becoming a bit too familiar. Mentioning the facts that the Industrial Growth Society is entirely dependent on cheap and abundant supplies of fossil fuels to power the growth necessary to pay off yesterday's debt, and since we've passed the peak in conventional supplies the global financial system can't survive much longer is somehow seen as equivalent to the American survivalist movement--and Curren throws Glenn Beck in as an additional bogeyman just for good measure.

Now, if one were to stop their inquiry into the peak oil movement at that point it would be easy to come to the conclusion that it's nothing more than bunch of doom-n-gloom misfits who can't adapt to civilization and are praying for the apocalypse. But being that superficial is generally associated with swimming at the shallow end of the gene pool.

The peak oil movement, pretty much since its inception, has always pointed out that there is an alternative--at least if we begin to implement it before too many tipping points are passed. Powering down, relocalizing, reconnecting, and remembering how to build mutually supportive community relationships are all mainstays of the peak oil movement. As well as of the global warming, social justice, and ecological integrity movements.

Communities are sets of relationships which operate at many scales. Curren says the guest post by Yevgeny on Dmitri Orlov's blog "deconstructs the idea of 'community.'" I'm at a total loss to see how he comes to that conclusion. Yevgeny does an excellent job of describing exactly what community is when talking about his father's village. The word itself may not be exactly translatable into Russian, but the concept is pretty universal. Who is rejecting the idea of community? I sense an attempt to create a straw-man, but I'm not sure who or for what purpose.

Nicole Foss does a good job of helping people realize our current economy is built on fairy dust. If Transition Norwich is an indication, I'm glad to see the Transition Movement waking up to reality, and especially their very mature response to it: "We didn’t have to be Pollyannas anymore." The end of affordable consumer goods would be a blessing in disguise, because none of them actually deliver on their promise of fulfillment. $225/barrel oil would help people discover they don't actually need the stuff in the first place.

By remembering how to share, build stuff to last, decentralize the grid with clean renewables, and a handful of other common sense changes that are technologically feasible today, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that we could have technologically advanced societies that are sustainable (and yes, there's a humane way to deal with the overpopulation problem). The only "downside" is that none of this supports economic growth. The main concept that changes is growth being necessary for progress and prosperity goes into the dustbin of history. The only suffering falls on bankers and insurance salesmen. But as Richard Heinberg says, we need 50 million more farmers anyway. The sunshine will do them good.

The collapse of an economic system that is based on debt, exploitation, and destruction is the opposite of an apocalypse, especially when relocalization/transition offers a positive alternative that actually can improve people's lot in life. Innovation and entrepreneurship can finally fully blossom because it won't be narrowly tied to only those products and industries that prop up the growth machine.

The fact is that we've been lied into our current perception of reality by the status quo, and it's not meeting the needs of everyday people, let alone offering anything approaching fulfillment. Cultural maturation beyond this story sounds much more like the promised land than the apocalypse.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mitigating Global Warming: Protecting Water

The following is a transcript of my talk at Transition Pima's Oct. 2 Chautauqua for Change, where the focus of the day was water.

Good afternoon. I'm glad so many of you could join us today. My name is Dave Ewoldt, and I'm one of the co-founders of Transition Pima, as well as being an independent candidate for Arizona State Senate in LD 28.

My research background, professional life, and community activism are built on a foundation of ecology, systems science, and policy analysis pertaining to sustainability and its basis in scientifically validated natural systems principles. I've also been a member of the Arizona Hydrological Society, and had a paper published in their annual conference proceedings a couple of years ago, so I'm at least marginally qualified to speak on the issue of water.

Today, more groups such as the Southern Arizona Green Chamber of Commerce, are springing up almost daily whose primary interest is sustainability; who advocate a community based on ecologically sound policies and sustainable practices; and who lobby to enact practical legislation to encourage green practices in our communities. Locally, the City of Tucson and Pima County have created sustainability departments. We also have the Watershed Management Group, Drywater Harvesters, Sonoran Permaculture Guild, Barrio Sustainability Project and other groups who focus on food and energy security that is sustainable.

My contention is that in order for these efforts to be successful, the first thing we must do is honestly define what we mean by sustainability. This can be done in both an ecologically sound and a legally defensible manner. This will provide a foundation that is consistent, that will allow rational planning, and will provide a yardstick by which to measure progress.

Most of you here today have heard the definition I propose using before, but I'll repeat it because we must keep it in mind as we talk about the water situation here in Southern Arizona. This definition contains three clauses that are intimately interrelated and that inform and support each other.

Sustainability: 1) Integrate human social and economic lives into the environment in ways that tend to enhance or maintain rather than degrade or destroy the environment; 2) A moral imperative to pass on our natural inheritance, not necessarily unchanged, but undiminished in its ability to meet the needs of future generations; 3) Entails determining, and staying within, the balance point amongst population, consumption, and waste assimilation so that bioregions, watersheds and ecosystems can maintain their ability to recharge, replenish, and regenerate.

The third clause it what gives the definition its legal teeth, because it is scientifically measurable. It provides the foundation for setting growth threshhold standards and optimum population size studies which have been successfully carried out in other communities around the country.

With this definition in mind, one thing that stands out to me in the various water forums and symposiums I've attended or participated in over the past few years is a term commonly used by local, regional, national, and international water experts. This term is overdraft. Everyone says, that everywhere you look, fresh water supplies are decreasing. We're using more than can be naturally replenished. But then, often in the very next sentence, they all go on to say we're not in danger of running out of water.

Now, I realize that math skills are also decreasing in this country, but what planet are these people from? Is there a parallel universe, or another dimension that I'm not aware of where all this water is going to come from? Isn't "inventing" new water supplies the same as the alchemy used in the Middle Ages to turn lead into gold? The best any of these experts could offer is a belief in a future technological miracle occurring to save us from ourselves. I call this the techno-rapture. None of the experts want to address the inconvenient truth that pretty much every technology that we've applied against the natural world has had the unfortunate side-effect of decreasing the ability of the natural world to sustain life.

I have this bad habit of looking at everything from a systems perspective; of studying relationships; of being concerned with underlying causes. If we don't understand what the real root of the problem is, the solutions we develop won't change anything because we'll be responding to the wrong problem.

When properly presented, sustainability additionally provides an overarching meta-vision of a just, equitable, and peaceful democratic society that is in balance (or, more accurately, in holistic integration) with the natural world. Sustainability, when strongly defined from the perspective of ecology--which is the study of relationships--fully informs the work of progressive activism, as well as providing the support and nurturing necessary for progressive activists. While some people take the narrow view that sustainability is an environmental movement, sustainability is actually a community movement.

I'll get into some of the details of why here in a moment, but the status quo needs to change while there's still anyone left around to change it. And the experts who look at global warming trends (more accurately referred to as catastrophic climate destabilization) say we're going to be looking at greatly reduced populations in the Southwest deserts over the coming decades. There is an intimate relationship here with water.

Steven Chu, Nobel laureate and former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in regard to diminished supplies of fresh water in the Western US from the 30-70% reduction of mountain snowpack says, "There’s a two-thirds chance there will be a disaster, and that’s in the best scenario." There are a number of credible studies that have been published within the past few years that come to the conclusion that the Colorado River could be functionally dry as early as the next years or two, but at least within the decade if trends continue.

Speaking of trends, it's instructive to note that many of the worst case global warming scenarios from less than ten years ago, which weren't predicted to occur until 2085 to 2100, have already occurred. The best example is the opening up of the Northwest passage in the Arctic.

We must begin being honest about the reality of the situation we find ourselves in. There is actually no disagreement that our current water supplies are running out. The water table in the Tucson region has dropped from 20 feet to over 300 feet in the past three generations, and is continuing to drop between 2-4 ft/yr. In the 1940s in Phoenix you couldn't build a house with a basement because the water table was too high. Now it's at 1,000 feet.

We're selling water to industry for $5.80/af, but the cost to CAGRD (Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District) to secure increasingly difficult to find replenishment supplies is $200/af. The snowpack in the headwaters of the Colorado River is decreasing and is expected to be at 40% below normal in the coming years. The Central Arizona Project is pumping water over 300 miles 2000 feet uphill to Tucson in an open concrete ditch through the middle of the Arizona desert.

We're betting our future on paper water. The current ADD water process (Acquire, Develop and Deliver Water) is analogous to the fed printing money to "solve" the financial crisis. It allows the continuation of rubber-stamping growth without the water actually being there. And we're allowing our local planning departments to continue approving trophy subdivisions in the foothills, and 60,000 home "planned" communities south of Tucson. As if putting the word "planned" in there makes everything alright. Everybody seems afraid to point out that smart growth gets us to the exact same place as dumb growth, we just get their first class.

One of the things we're told by status quo water managers is that we can continue growing if we manage our water resources better; for example, if we all just begin water harvesting.

What I'm going to spend the rest of my time talking about today involves deepening this overly simplistic view. We require a much fuller understanding of the system relationships within hydrologic cycles in order to craft realistic water policies.

The executive summary is that our collective abuse and displacement of water is contributing to both global warming and local weather disruptions. Abuse through industrial and agricultural pollution is fairly well understood. Displacement is less well known and concerns moving water from where it sustains healthy ecosystems and hydrologic cycles to where it gets used in irrigation or for cities, where it generally ends up in the oceans. There is also a "virtual trade" in water due to globalization, which is the 20% of daily water use for humans that is used for export crops or manufactured goods. Urbanization, deforestation, and wetlands destruction also cause the removal of vegetation necessary for a healthy hydrologic cycle, which leads to a loss of precipitation over affected areas. This all contributes to global warming, as well as lowering nature's ability to sequester carbon dioxide. Solutions must protect water as well as watersheds and all of their users.

Here are the details on how this functions and occurs. Much of the following is taken from the work of Maude Barlow, board chair of Food and Water Watch and senior adviser on water to the president of the U.N. General Assembly.

We can't ignore the interconnected nature of our world, its cycles, and humanity's role in them. Global warming is having negative impacts on global fresh water supplies. Warmer temperatures cause increased evaporation from rivers and lakes, decreased snowpack and earlier runoff, and increased glacier melting.

However, our collective abuse and displacement of fresh water is also contributing to global warming. This issue must be added to our strategies to mitigate global warming as well as the restoration of watersheds and the replenishment of aquifers.

There are two major factors in this.

The first is displacement of water from where it sustains healthy ecosystems and healthy hydrologic cycles. We've polluted so much surface water that we're now mining aquifers much faster than nature can replenish them. We move water from where nature has put it to where we need it for food production where much of it gets lost to evaporation, and to supply the voracious thirst of cities where it usually ends up as waste dumped into waterways and oceans.

We also lose water through the virtual trade in water. This is the water used for export crops and manufactured goods, and it accounts for about 20% of the daily water use for humans that is exported out of watersheds. Piping water long distances for industry leaves behind parched landscapes.

The second factor is loss of the vegetation necessary for healthy hydrologic cycles. Urbanization, deforestation and wetland destruction destroy water-retentive landscapes and leads to loss of precipitation over the affected area.

The living world influences the climate mainly by regulating the water cycle and the huge energy flows linked to it. Transpiring plants, especially forests, work as a kind of biotic pump, causing humid air to be sucked out of the ocean and transferred to dry land. If the vegetation is removed from the land, this natural regulation system is interrupted. Soil erodes, reducing the content of organic material in the ground, thus reducing its ability to hold water. Dry soil from lost vegetation traps solar heat, sharply increasing the local temperature and causing a reduction in precipitation over the affected area. This is the unmentioned side of the urban heat island effect. This process also destroys the natural sequestration of carbon in the soil, leading to carbon loss.

So, just as removing vegetation from an ecosystem will dry up the soil, removing water from an ecosystem means reduced or non-existent vegetation. Taken together, these two factors are hastening the desertification of the planet, and intensifying global warming. Even if we successfully address and reverse greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels, we will not be able to stop global warming if we do not deal with the impact of our abuse of water.

It is also a tenet of sustainability that a region--however defined--cannot consider itself sustainable at the expense of another region. Central and Southern Arizona will not be sustainable as long as it depends on Colorado River water. The same can be said for some of the current pipe-dreams such as building another water canal from the Mississippi River or building desalinization plants. As if the communities dependent upon the Mississippi River would even allow the former to occur in the first place.

And of course there's also the tie-in to our energy production and use. Coal-fired power plants use approximately 1.5 trillion gallons of water a year in the US. Some folks might actually use more water turning on the lights in their foothills McMansions than by drinking a glass of it. Power plants also create more toxic waste than the plastic, paint, and chemical industries, and this waste gets dumped into rivers and other waterways from the scrubbing process. So, we've managed to clean up the air a bit and instead of breathing the toxins, now we drink them.

So, how do we answer the increasingly loud cry of, What can we do?

The solution to the water half of this crisis is massive watershed restoration to bring water back into parched landscapes. It's instructive to remember that the Tucson Valley used to be a desert wetlands. The only remaining example of this is a small section of the upper San Pedro River valley.

We must return water that has disappeared by retaining as much rainwater as possible within the ecosystem so that water can permeate the soil, replenish groundwater systems, and return to the atmosphere to regulate temperatures and renew the hydrologic cycle. This means we must be ecologically realistic about the unsustainability, as well as the basic infeasibility, of supporting a local population of one million entirely through water harvesting. Don't even get me started on the current growth lobby fantasy of doubling our local population by 2050.

We must restore forests and wetlands - the lungs and kidneys of fresh water. For this to be successful, three basic laws of nature must be addressed.

1) We must create the conditions that allow rainwater to remain in local watersheds by restoring the natural spaces where rainwater falls and where water can flow. Examples of water retention include: roof gardens in family homes and office buildings; urban planning to allow rain and storm water to be captured and returned to the earth; water harvesting and drip irrigation in food production; capturing daily water discharge and returning it clean to the land through technologies such as living machines.

2) We cannot continue to mine groundwater supplies at a rate greater than natural recharge. Future generations will not look kindly upon us if we do. Governments must regulate groundwater takings before these underground reservoirs are gone (and before our cities subside into them). This means a shift in policy from export to domestic and local production.

3) We must stop polluting our surface and groundwater sources, which is usually done merely to increase corporate profits. Water abuse in fossil fuel production and in mining must stop. We must wean ourselves of industrial and chemical-based agricultural practices and the techno-fantasy of water-guzzling agro-fuel farming. National policies and international trade rules must support local food production in order to protect the environment and promote local sustainable agriculture. Policies must also discourage the virtual trade in water, and ban the mass movement of water by pipeline. Government investment in water and wastewater infrastructure would save huge volumes of water lost every day. Local laws could enforce water-harvesting and grey-water recycling practices at every level.

Governments around the world must acknowledge the water crisis and the role water abuse plays in the warming (and drying) of the planet. All activities that will impact water must conform to a new ethic -- backed by law -- that protects water sources from pollution and over-pumping. This will require a strong challenge to government policies that exclusively focus on unlimited global economic growth, as well as directly challenging those who insist that it is politically infeasible to propose, enact, or enforce any regulations that might decrease profitability.

International policies currently focus on giving the two billion people in water stressed areas more access to groundwater sources. But current levels of groundwater takings are unsustainable. To truly realize the universal right to water, and to protect water for nature's own uses, requires a fundamental reordering in our relationship to the world's finite water resources, as well as all the other resources our economies, lifestyles, and very lives depend upon.

Until we find the courage to perform a systemic and comprehensive carrying capacity analysis, we won't know what we have to work with, or even the general direction we should be heading. This makes all of our current planning efforts moot.

We are currently overdeveloped. We are in the overshoot range of both environmental and economic carrying capacity. This is a very inconvenient truth, made all the harder to hear because we have defined our very essence by its negation.

Addressing these issues is a fundamental aspect of the relocalization project--a viable and pragmatic process to cooperatively develop a sustainable future. We're running out of time to get busy on it. But, it is something that is within our ability to do. And it starts by simply making new choices, in our lifestyles and with the people we elect to set our governing policies and regulatory framework. Simply replacing one color of the status quo with the second most popular color is not a choice our grandchildren are going to be very happy about.

Or our children. Or our spouses, for that matter. The time, quite literally, is now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In a Nutshell

Since what we're doing today obviously isn't working when it comes to improving our lot in life and protecting our life support system, and we have an urgent need to develop realistic responses to the rapidly converging Triumvirate of Collapse--Peak Oil, global warming, and corporatism--who or what might be standing in our way? More importantly, what could form a realistic foundation for doing things differently?

The main group standing in the way of getting back in balance with the natural systems principles that create and nurture life seem to be those 1) who believe that economic growth and financial incentives are necessary for progress and prosperity, not that we're naturally innovative, inquisitive and intelligent creatures, 2) who believe we are separate from and in control of the natural world, and not subject to the consequences of our actions, 3) who believe that money and material accumulation are acceptable substitutes for spiritual and emotional health and well-being, 4) who believe we can "greenly" resume business as usual and have an economic recovery that returns us to "normal" and don't want to admit that normal is what brought us to this point, 5) who believe that because compound interest can be mathematically shown to expand to infinity that this "proves" natural resources can do likewise, and thus banksters are to be venerated in their wisdom of usury and worship of mammonism (the deification of greed), 6) who believe this is a cruel and heartless dog-eat-dog world and not that the Universe is friendly to life and its evolution, and 7) basically, those who believe that force-based ranking hierarchies of domination and a pathological sense of an inferior other (anything outside the ego) are normal.

While this may make life-supportive change sound next to impossible, I think it is important to help people realize that it's all based on nothing more than a story that emerges from #7. We (Western industrial civilization) can remove the legitimacy we grant to that story, and we can develop a new story that better meets our needs, which necessarily includes a healthy living world that increases diversity by remaining within the carrying capacity limitations of bioregions, watersheds and ecosystems.

I believe we can help people remember and rekindle their fundamental connection to a sensuous living world in which the prime activity of living organisms is the tendency to self-organize into mutually supportive relationships. This is the basis for community. For those missing this important link in the way we think, this part of the process can be easily learned through Project NatureConnect.

Depending on one's perspective, there really aren't major, if any, sacrifices to make--except within a few economic sectors like banking and insurance--when it comes to powering down and evolving beyond growth. Well, we'll sacrifice our body burden, as well as the major contributor to stress, depression, angst, anxiety, despair...

And there's a sizeable chunk of people who would welcome the opportunity to find an alternative to the rat race; to shifting their focus from having more to being more. This is what social studies for the last half century have been saying is exactly what people really do want.

However, no one in their right mind would accept less and contribute more to a system that practices economic cannibalism and ecocide. That's why modern psychotherapy and pharmaceutical companies exist. As J. Krishnamurti said, it is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.

There's a rational economic and ecological alternative that addresses the "doing with less" and austerity concerns of dropping the myth of infinite growth and that embodies the intrinsic rights of the natural world. This alternative is known as relocalization--a practical and affordable process to create a sustainable future--that is the polar opposite of, thus the antidote to, corporate globalization. It combines reconnecting with nature, steady-state economies, permaculture, bioregionalism, natural healing, non-hierarchical communication and organization methods, eco-cities that are people friendly instead of car friendly, alternative energy, and related areas. The leaders and teachers we need today are those already involved in all of those areas, as well as those working in the hundreds of cities around the world focusing on powering-down and becoming sustainable through Transition Initiatives.

For practical examples, we could make less stuff if it were built to last and be easily repairable. We could share infrequently used stuff with friends and neighbors (or have a community rental coop). We could quit believing Madison Avenue when it insists that we are unworthy if we have last years stuff. We could make stuff less toxic, using less toxic processes, and more energy efficient by simply admitting that people and planet are more important than profit. We can build carbon neutral dwellings. We could decentralize the energy grid, quit losing the 25-50% that gets lost on long distance transmission lines, and have local energy independence.

We already know how to do all of these things but don't because of fear of losing "competitive market advantage" and the need to pay usurious interest rates on bank loans that have been extended on easy credit to keep the overall economy growing. What much of this comes down to is that we must admit it is highly irrational to continue believing that we can all continue to benefit forever from our mutual indebtedness--financial and ecological.

If we were to also get global population down to a sustainable level (and we've already proven it's possible to reduce birth rates below replenishment levels through education and giving women the right to control reproductive choice), we could probably get by just fine with even less alternative energy than we're already producing. It must be more widely distributed, but we don't need more of it. We could end our addiction to fossil fuels today. And I haven't even mentioned all the common sense conservation methods we can build into the social milieu, instead of propagating the fear that by conserving ourselves we're simply making it possible for others to use more.

Becoming sustainable doesn't require donning hair-shirts, moving back to the cave, and carrying water. Unless, of course, that's one's preferred lifestyle. (Most of us would probably skip the hair-shirt part.) I think most people would gladly contribute more if they knew they were contributing to mutually supportive community that was consciously and spiritually aligned, or holistically integrated, with a sensuous living planet. This is also the best manner of getting more back ourselves. Being a responsibly contributing member of one's community is how we satisfy those natural expectations for fulfillment that our senses of community, belonging, and acceptance require to be whole and healthy ourselves.

Changing the concepts of wealth and status from the size of one's bank account, yacht, or lawn to the quality of one's personal, social, and environmental relationships is integral to all of this. But I don't see anything irrational or unnatural about becoming better instead of bigger. This is actually where much of my overall optimism springs from, along with all the research that demonstrates that people can make fundamental change in a short time-frame with the proper motivation. The tricky part is finding that motivational trigger point for people thoroughly embedded in the consensus trance of the Industrial Growth Society.

We can mature beyond mechanistic, reductionistic, dualistic Enlightenment thinking and realize that in an interconnected and interdependent world, wisdom emerges from the combination of science and spirituality. While we must first heal the disconnection among body, mind and spirit so they can fully inform and support each other, we can simultaneously build on a framework that combines ancient indigenous wisdom with evolutionary biology, quantum physics, and ecology that requires less energy to increase opportunities for all to work toward their potential.

I believe this is the path to sustainability, and that a sustainable future is only possible if founded on ecological wisdom, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy. This means it must be founded on the core natural systems principles of mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and increasing diversity. The models and metaphors amply supplied by a climax ecosystem as it develops health, vitality and resiliency--a system which has been successfully functioning for billions of years in order for life to support more life--can be used to create lifestyles and social systems that are every bit as sustainable.

Before it's too late, if it's not already. Gaia, our living planet, original mother to us all, will eventually heal. But without humans, she will have lost her voice for many centuries, probably millennia, more.

The system is not invincible. Elites are neither supernatural nor immortal; they exhibit the same weaknesses and foibles as you and I; their greed and arrogance is just slightly more pronounced. Systems of power--hierarchies of domination--have been created by humans, and we can remove the legitimacy we bestow on those systems. True systemic change starts by believing in it, not by talking ourselves out if it. And certainly not by trying to talk others out of it.

This means we could do it today; it is a natural aspect of who we truly are; we don't need to wait for a new technology to be invented, or for a new prophet to emerge; we can think and act the way that nature works. Collectively, we the people are more powerful than we dare to believe, and it's time for us to mature from Nature's children into Nature's adults regardless of the manner in which we internalize--the name we apply to--the creative life force.