Thursday, 7 August 2014

Article: Changing for survival

In my recent posts I have highlighted important areas for consideration when tackling things as they are at this point in human history. From what I have observed we are facing several major challenges and all require collaborative working to resolve them.

In the second decade of the 21st century have the rising cost of healthcare, the rising cost of energy with it's impact on the environment increasing unrest and mistrust as well as the usual security issues that are common to all nations.

News reports are all very grim and serious, but failure to report a problem that needs addressing only ever serves to allow it to escalate. In developed countries as distinct from developing nations we seem to be dithering about whether or not to radically change the way we do things. It would seem it is fast becoming a battle between Hedonists and Humanitarianists. It is quite normal and in many ways natural for humans to be a bit of both but much I think depends on finding the happy balance between the two.

It is perfectly fine to seek reward for our efforts and to treat ourselves and abnormal not to. It is perfectly healthy to seek to help others too. The two help us all keep in balance. News of corruption and cruelty though is rife and understandably people want justice if not revenge for unfair treatment of themselves and their loved ones. In my view, revenge is not a good idea as it tends to lead us all into deeper troubles. No, what we need is to put our heads together and have a tidy up and I think a review of our values and how we go about things.

Supply chains

If we want to save time, money and energy I have highlighted that we should start by learning to make things from what we already have by recycling. If we want to continue to enjoy the benefits of having mobile phones, computers, TVs, clothes, buildings and even food we have no choice but to renew the supply chain from whence these things came. We cannot continue in our disposable, wasteful, throwaway habits without recycling as logically, eventually we will run out of the raw materials that make everything we need to survive and want to improve the quality of our lives.

There is only a finite amount of copper, lead, iron, aluminium, silicon, zinc, gold, silver and platinum on planet Earth. Along with all the other elemental raw materials, if we do not re-use what we have we will ultimately run out of them all by burying them in landfills or burning them and poisoning ourselves in the process yet such has become our habit. Anyone who does not recycle is putting everyone's future at risk including their own. Separating out and bagging up our waste in itself is of no use whatsoever if we do not have efficient processes by which we can retrieve all those valuable raw materials. We can certainly simplify that by using fewer mixes of materials in the first place wherever it is possible, thereby making it easier for everyone to recycle. Sadly we only seem to be inclined to make do and mend and recycle when we are at war with others, never in peace time. That's quite a shocking indictment on us all.

Food does not grow without land being allocated for it to do so. Waste from the inedible parts of plants and animals enable the edible bits to grow but only if we recycle. Plants and animals need whole eco-systems to be able to provide the produce that we eat. Processed food seems to have become largely not just unhealthy but dangerous to our health through the introduction of too many sugars, preservatives, E numbers and additives. As one professor put it, "you might as well put a skull and crossbones on low calorie foods."

Like any species of animal on this planet, food is the most basic need of all even to us as news reports of starving people both home and abroad testify. With poverty comes greater health risks but these are not just confined to the poor. By eradicating poverty we do much to prevent thousands of diseases that any one could catch. There are enough famines caused by natural disasters to contend with without us adding to them through armed conflict. By being calm instead of vengeful to work through problems we stand a better chance of succeeding in overcoming them all. History has proved this repeatedly.

The fact is we have the answers to sort all our solutions and all it requires is better communication and collaborative working to achieve all our common goals - that of food, shelter and work for all. There is certainly no shortage of the latter but education in every form is vital to enable all to be able to work and to do so efficiently with minimum risk to life. Training is just as an important form of education as that which happens in schools and universities where so much helpful research is done. We should stop using industrial research to merely enable profits for companies and start to use that more to aid the world as a whole if only because we are all reliant on each other for our health, wealth and indeed survival.

Energy supply is another area that requires urgent attention and careful consideration. Again, the more inventive we can become about generating power through sustainable sources the better off we'll be in the long term. Quick fixes for fast bucks are causing more problems than they cure. They generate an ever increasing number of problems for us to combat which leads to an ever diminishing amount of time to find the solutions in. This is not the behaviour of an intelligent species at all, but rather a self-destructive one.

Fear of changing our ways

Would we really be changing our social structures that much to enable everyone the opportunity to thrive and flourish? The answer is no. People do not seek to have the weight of the world's problems on their shoulders. Success is all to commonly perceived in terms of financial gain rather than in terms of useful achievements. If we look at those who are extremely wealthy we find they are riddled with problems of who to trust, who to form close relationships with and how to maintain their position in the world without ever making a mistake. The pressure to perform perfectly is enormous and no one is ever capable of being faultless as no one is ever able to foresee every pitfall to avoid. Success in those terms is not all that it's cracked up to be.

In essence what we all have in common is the desire to be acknowledged for the part we play to make the whole work. No one wants to feel devalued. What each and everyone of us really seek to be successful at is to being seen as a someone who is accomplished at something. Luckily the world is not short of opportunities to do so at every level in every field of human endeavour. It is the act of doing things that give us a sense of acceptance and respect that is the true measure of our own very individual sense of success. What distinguishes the best from the rest is how we go about things and what we do to correct our mistakes.

Our species have really screwed up our guardianship of this planet. Knowing that though gives us the opportunity to put things right and fix it. Surely that is a much more positive way forward than merely resigning ourselves to the thought that we can never do better or that all is lost. Instead of repeating our worst habits, I think it's high time we learnt to acknowledge and learn from our best efforts. We are after all also the most innovative species on Earth capable of truly great things.    


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