Why Culture Change is Necessary and
The "industrial world" is not only a group of nations,
but a state of living amidst manufactured objects and altered landscapes.
We are thus usually alienated from nature and fellow humans. Our
environment is degraded in our eyes, but some still believe it is
"progress" for nature to be tamed and turned into money and
products that do not degrade harmlessly.
Most people have an opinion on how much pollution is tolerable, what
effects flow from polluting, and what solutions should be implemented to
save our health and our threatened climate. There is by no means any
consensus of where we are and what must be done. Part of the problem is
that we already have such an industrialized, heavily populated world
(notably in the U.S.), that our options appear to be very limited.
Admittedly, we cannot simply walk away from mechanized, technological
living that is so dependent on complex systems and devouring resources.
One can do so individually, to a large degree. But masses of people have
nowhere to go to gather food, hunt, or even farm, when everywhere we look
the land is either fenced or paved. For these reasons peopleóignorant
to start with, sadlyóare clinging to
industrialism, although its future is severely limited at this rate. Even
"greens" are calling for mostly technofixes and modest
self-restraint that would only slow down a tiny bit the destruction of
Earth as we know it (or used to know it).
Yes, people care more about protecting the environment than not so long
ago. But a growing population of consumers cancels out the rising concern
and all the conservation practiced by the responsible few. Additionally,
even environmentally attuned folk are still polluting in a major way if
they are consumers.
This is why a culture change is being brought about. It is being
brought about by certain kinds of people and, even
more so, by forces out of anyone's control. New ways of living and
relating to one another as a society are underway and spreading. This
promises to have a greater effect than mere environmentally sensitive
There are two main forces at work that have started to alter our
way of life and have interfered with natural evolution in the
biosphere. They are far more powerful than one thousand George W. Bushes.
It is as if two freight trains are barreling toward each other on the same
track. One is nature, in her rising destructive power and growing backlash
having to do with climate change and the effects of species loss in the
food change. The other is the economy with can be considered like a house
of cards, with its dependency on growth and cheap energy which is running
"Toxic Chemicals Found in Salmon" was the front page headline
in the Oregonian on August 31 of this year. Experts didnít know
where the toxicity had come from. No one said, "your car and your
boat." Much is made of an oil spill, but some famous spills donít
represent in quantity more than a few minutes of ongoing petroleum
consumption in the U.S. Today's society essentially responds to
this situation by saying, "Oh well, what else is new?"
Some regulations may be added which do not eliminate pollution (that
accumulates all the while). Some new parking lots get catchment ponds
for the poison runoff. Recycling our motor oil is much better than pouring
it down a storm drain. But society is in denial regarding the onslaught of
contamination destroying our water supplies. And instead of recognizing
motor-vehicle exhaust and smog as deadly, our institutions focus on minor
changes in emissions per vehicle. Getting out of our cars is never an
officially approved or encouraged option, because too much money is made
by the automobile and fuels trades.
The trouble with sweeping, new approaches that can drastically cut
pollution, save energy and resources, and ease the strain on our health,
is that people are insecure and fear change. One excuse to do nothing at
all is that there is so much consumption continuing by a largely needy,
overpopulated society. A paving moratorium, for example, represents an end
to bulldozing and paving our farmland and wetlands. But it also means no
more construction of Wal-Marts and McDonalds, which means jobs are
threatened by a new approach sensitive to nature and that relies on
forgotten means of mutual cooperation. Most people seem to either
fear government or the idea of no government. But it is commonly
agreed that government as we know it is not getting better for the
people and the planet.
People try to be content in this industrialized, inequitable society
which is based on enforced control. The freedom to consume is all we have
left, it seems. "Get in line" is what we hear from not just the
policeman and schoolmasters, but from family members and friends who want
to survive the only way they know how. Thinking independently and taking
action seem to be forgotten concepts. This conveniences the status quo.
There is another way