We know, in our hearts, that what we all really want is a balance of freedom and safety for ourselves and those dearest to us. War makes us realise this. It doesn’t matter whether we live in Britain, Europe, China or Russia or even the poor Ukraine. Until very recently, Ukraine seemed relatively rich in both grain and natural gas. The leader of Russia wants those riches and so do western government leaders. The resulting wasteful war is very sad particularly for the innocent people of Ukraine.
We do not want our homes and fields bombed and our loved ones killed. The ordinary people of Ukraine are suffering because they are caught up in a continuing power struggle for their valuable resources between other militarily powerful nations. Unfortunately the people in charge of both sides, believe that they know best and they see themselves as the powerful father or mother of ‘our particular country’. This elected or otherwise surrogate and apparently ‘protective’ parent, backed by powerful economic and military interests, will promise, when in search of power, to keep us safe and protect our freedoms. Once in power, those parental promises are quickly overshadowed by the fear of some external threat and the need for firm control. At some point we all need to stop behaving like irresponsible children expecting our elected or unelected ‘powerful parent’ to protect us, we need to grow up quickly. Our safety and freedom depends on all humans living sustainably on this one planet. We need to share resources more fairly around the whole world, particularly food and energy.
We need a sustainable system for planet earth and ourselves if most of us humans living now are to survive the next 20 years. The climate is changing and people will continue to argue about the detail of why, whilst the planet slowly cooks. I think most humans can agree that these inevitable changes to the climate will be enough to significantly disrupt existing economic systems, including food and energy supplies, across the world with or without war. Some will claim that this trend has already started and is exacerbated by growing global political and social instability. The outlook could be very bleak or perhaps there is hope, because we do have choices.
In the past, many separate countries and even some empires have tried and succeeded in sustaining themselves and their GDP growth model by choosing to gather more resources from ‘other places’ and more recently by choosing to externalise costs to ‘other places’. This exploitation of what appears external cannot continue because it cannot be sustained. In the new interconnected global economic system there really are no ‘other places’ to exploit. We humans have just one precious planet to call our home and perhaps many more people are beginning to realise we must protect this natural, life giving, support system if we wish to survive and thrive. There is no ‘other’ we are all one.
Now people are realising that most of the technological and economic fixes of the past were only short term solutions. This was only effective for the short term outcomes for the next quarterly company report or the next term of government. Much of this short term thinking is underpinned by the flawed notion of endless economic growth based on borrowing from our future selves or future generations. A war is good for GDP! Instead of spending our next 20 years finding and punishing who is to blame for this ridiculous short term thinking we can choose to focus on new creative solutions which will provide a more sustainable future for us all. The apparent economic efficiency of the past is mired in exploitation of people and planet and what we need is ‘real’ efficiency based on more frugal and simple local solutions. We know that technological efficiency gains provide economic growth of about 2%. Trying to achieve more GDP growth than this will always result in misery for someone, somewhere, perhaps in a country near you, or one on another continent. By some strange coincidence 2% of GDP is what NATO expects member countries to spend on military ‘defence’. At some basic human level we know that fair shares and local sustainability is the right direction; we know this without the need for debate or argument or war. There is only one beautiful planet, for us all to share, in our hearts, we all know this.
I hope we can start to put this instinctive permaculture knowledge into action soon, Earth Care, People Care, Fair Shares.