RESPONSES TO THE FUTURE SEMINAR – See below for the questions that we wrestled with on 12th October in Birmingham: the start of ongoing debates
That Seminar has proposed ongoing work for those wishing to be engaged:
First Project: Connecting with, and being relevant to, the protest energies of (mainly) younger people. Not ruling out PCF becoming affiliated to action orientated movements.
Second Project: Examining the Green Growth v Post Growth arguments and making a clear case for any resulting conclusions.
Third Project: Exploring the consequences, for all life and for humans, of reaching the tipping point(s) into a collapsed world order. To equip any survivors with attitudes and values matching their likely situations. To do this without negating the efforts of those striving to avert such a drastic transition.
Our next free Bulletin update circulated to contacts will give details on how to link with any of these projects. You may Apply to subscribe from this site
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A PLANET IN TROUBLE?
Some still deny the problem.
Most do not want to think about it.
We who do care struggle with the choices: –
# People first or planet first?
# Address technology, consumption or population?
# Attempt changes within the growth economy, or beyond it?
# Aim to prevent collapse or also prepare for it?
# What possible futures can we envision?
# What should be our responses to these futures?
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PEOPLE FIRST OR PLANET FIRST?
Over four billion years the planet has evolved from a lump of rock to host complex and diverse life – a biosphere.
This complex diversity of interacting and complementary life is amazing, precious, wonderful – or is that just a human projection on to it?
Understanding our own fulfilment in doing our thing (not the same as joy or pain in the moment) we can probably say that this holds for the great whale, the oak tree, the coral and everything else dynamically alive.
This is no fairy story with a happy ending. Species also cease. Yet it can have a happy middle: their fulfilment, like yours, is the action and experiencing under the curve of life. There have been great extinctions in which the diversity of life on Earth has contracted; making a gradual recovery to a new blossoming.
Some few thousand years ago one species – us – achieved such dominance that we became a threat to the whole biosphere: aiming to control it, reduce it to a resource and a dustbin.
The irony has been that we (humans) also started to achieve a self-conscious overview of what we were doing – as well as the ability to block out the implications (denial).
Can we really identify with the biosphere as a whole? Even where its needs seem to conflict with human interest and advantage? How planet centred can we actually be?
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CAUSE OF THE SIXTH EXTINCTION?
Once our dire situation is recognised, the hunt for the cause – somewhere to pin the blame – is on.
Is runaway or destructive technology the problem? Fossil fuel heating and transport? Plastics and the chemical industry? The nuclear and arms industries? Chemical farming and industrial fishing?
Is it our massive consumption: more and more ‘stuff’ to want, use and throw away? The endless indulgencies and gadgets that the present system needs us to need?
Is it our sheer numbers? Seven billion and climbing when one billion scared the pants off Malthus? How much more of the wild space do we need to grab for an extra eighty million people each year?
Is it the values that underpin this ‘civilisation’? Our visions of dominance over nature, endless growth and ‘free’ individuals? Can we learn from the modest values of indigenous peoples?
Coming back to technology, is increasing the reflection of sunlight at the Earth’s poles the one techno-fix that is possible and doable – if only to enable a time window?
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HOW TO CHANGE DIRECTION?
Is ‘Green Growth’ within the existing endless growth economies a possible and viable option?
Or do growth economies need to give way to steady state (no growth) economies – with massive implications for wage packets and lifestyle expectations?
Can locally sourced and produced services and goods, supplied by alternative exchange mechanisms, bridge the expectation gap?
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AVOID COLLAPSE AT ALL COSTS OR PREPARE FOR IT?
Should we strain every nerve to prevent crossing the tipping points of global temperature rise, topsoil loss, and other irreversible threats to our existing society and economy? Can we achieve Deep Transition?
Or do we need to face the possibility that these transitions will occur despite our best efforts, creating a possibly chaotic world way beyond the structures of existing societies?
Does even a 10% chance of ‘collapse’ justify some eco-radicals visualising possibilities – plus human responsibilities to the biosphere – in a post-complex society world: even while most remain focussed on not reaching the tipping points?
WHAT POSSIBLe FUTURES CAN WE ENVISION?
Recovery and continuation of existing complex society?
Novocene (non-biological) dominance by artificial intelligence? Could artificially created intelligences make the transition from programmed cleverness to deep tuned wisdom?
A new Pleistocene, modest in human numbers and values?
Earth placed in special measures by extra-terrestial stewards?
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RESPONSES TO THESE FUTURES?
PCF continues to attempt answers to the questions posed above.
It wass also the title of the Seminar which Planet Centred Forum moderated on 12th October 2019. Details on the seminar page.