April 8, 2001
WHAT SORT OF FUTURE ARE WE PREPARING?
In 1992, I was inspired to write this "Back from the Past" perspective below about what was going on environmentally-wise around the world at the time of the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and about the "sustainable development" concept which was relatively new at that time and to which most governments - but fortunately not all corporations! - have proven paying only lip service ever since.
Re-actualizing it to a 2001 perspective would not make much of a difference it would seem. Yet lots of things have changed. On the one hand, the vital signs of our planet are weakening (think for instance about the accelerating erosion of biodiversity, the vanishing rainforests, the run-away global warming, and so on), and the corporate/greed agenda continues to dominate and shape what most politicians say and do. Yet on the other hand, more and more people are crossing the threshold from powerless apathy to political, environmental and spiritual activism as the cosmic influence of the awareness-transmuting-and-expanding Light beamed at us by benevolent beings from higher dimensions (according to several sources) continues to foster a growing global awareness of our soul-rooted unity with All That Is, thus precipitating the emergence of a New spiritual era of Peace, Love and Harmony on Earth and beyond, in the years to come. So overall, I'd say there is ample solid ground for hope.
Anyway I thought you would enjoy looking at our world from the perspective outlined in this fictional and yet very educational article.
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
The Earth Rainbow Network (ERN), founded in February 1997, has an extensive list of more than 2400 people in approximately 50 countries sharing information, visions and feedbacks on a broad range of subjects as a way to expand and deepen global awareness and the sense of forming a global spiritual community gradually empowering itself to contribute in shaping the future of this world. To be added on the ERN e-list, simply ask it from firstname.lastname@example.org - Subscription is free!
P.S. This is a special extra and is not part of my regular compilations. Networking and/or publishing with proper credit is permitted.
WHAT SORT OF FUTURE ARE WE PREPARING?
by Jean Hudon
Let's suppose for a moment that you were born in 1952 and that, following a car accident, you went into a deep coma in 1972 and survived until today without the need for intensive medical attention; what sort of world would you discover if you were to suddenly come out of your coma and reawaken in 1992? First, after a readaptation period, you would start asking questions as to what happened while you were unconscious. Obviously, the striking scientific progress with all sorts of new technologies now commonly used would probably astonish you: the pervasive computers used for all sorts of applications, the micro-wave oven, the VCRs and CD players, and so on. Then, the end of the decades long cold war nuclear shadow over the whole world would certainly appear to be a much welcomed development, although questions remain as to how really safe the world is with the potential proliferation of unstable or aggressive nations with a nuclear arsenal. Also, the amazing new global environmental awareness with a growing number of green products now on the shelves and the generalization of recycling and energy efficiency policies would also elicit a huge sigh of relief if you were already concerned 20 years ago with blind environmental devastation. Overall, with democracy on the march worldwide and a heightened social concern for a large gamut of problems which were relegated on the back burner before you drowned into coma, the chances are great that you would think at first glance that the hopes for a better future for mankind now appear to be looking very good indeed.
However, after these first moments of exhilarating discoveries, you would start noticing other preoccupying signals in various books, newsmedia and TV specials casting a different light on these good news, talking about ozone holes in the sky, forests dwindling, deserts spreading and species being wiped out from the face of the Earth. Entrenched interests and ingrained attitudes and habits, as it would soon appear to you, could also become a formidable obstacle on the way to what some leading edge politicians and environmentalists claim to be the only hope for a healthy and positive future for us and all generations to come, that is, the so-called "sustainable development" concept.
Calling for deep changes in the way we develop our economies and regulate the industrial and trade activities around the world, this idea of sustainably developing the world implies, as they explain, that we should make sure we do not overuse the limited resources of our planet and threaten the stability of its fragile ecosystems in a way that would make it impossible for our children and an untold number of following generations to at least benefit from the same level of abundance and quality of life that we have enjoyed so far - except for the poorer portion of humanity. Arising from countless scientific studies and data showing that without rapid changes our world is on a fast track to a global collapse of all ecosystems, this idea has received an unreserved support from very large segments of human societies and is the basic conceptual driving force behind the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), this Earth Summit as the newsmedia refers to it in the numerous reports you read or watch during your convalescence.
But how could we make sure our world is really going to make it safely and soundly into the twenty-first century? For sure, after missing so many years of good times that went on while you were in a comatose state, you now want to put all the chances on your side that your remaining years will be fun-filled and worry-free; so this is surely the kind of question you would ask yourself! Now, let's suppose for a moment that you would be able to gather a panel of experts from many fields of human activity, scientists, economists, environmentalists, sociologists, humanists and even politicians, to ask them what could be the best decisions we should individually and collectively make now to increase our chances of success with this "sustainable development" thing. Here are some of the questions you would probably ask and the answers you would probably get from their collective and informed perspective.
Q. Reading from numerous sources such as the State of the World reports published annually by the Worldwatch Institute, from the literature and magazines of different environmental groups, and from newsmedia such as the Time Magazine, I gather that despite an increased awareness about numerous global environmental problems and strong actions by some governments, the overall situation is still worsening in many regards. How would you rate our success so far at tackling the difficulties we have created for ourselves with shortsighted or no environmental policies and strategies?
A. There has been some significant response to environmental problems and there are many positive signs indicating that governments and industrial corporations are starting to respond to criticism concerning their poor environmental standards and a general lack of attention when it comes to the environmental repercussions of governmental policies and technological progress aimed at fostering economic growth. However this has often been done without long-term vision and more as a piecemeal response to pressure from disgruntled constituencies and as a face-saving posturing done mostly for electoral objectives. Consequently, the real in-depth re-evaluation of ever-expanding economic development and social values which must be done before real change may occur has yet to take place. So we could say that our success in implementing sustainable development policies is mitigated by our lack of thorough examination of the basic premises which determine our consumption patterns and our disregard for their ensuing environmental consequences. Which means that an exercise such as the Earth Summit could greatly help in enhancing awareness as to how superficial and insufficient our actions have been so far. The Earth Charter and related Agenda 21 action plan to be adopted during this conference might provide us with the overall long-term vision and philosophy needed to offset the limited perspective we had up to now in this matter. Considering what still remains to be done, we would give an average 30% note to policy and decision-makers around the world.
Q. Is there a chance that sustainable development policies really take hold around the world?
A. That depends on a number of factors. But first and foremost, public awareness and education on environmental issues must be much more increased and qualitatively profound if we are to see politicians and corporations make the hard and costly decisions required to set our civilization on a path of benign relationship with our local and global environment. Despite some significant progress in term of interest and support for the protection of the environment and against outright pollution, most people do not have a real understanding on how dangerous and precarious our global environmental situation is. Of course, when asked in an opinion poll if they would prefer a product or a service such as a mode of transportation that is less hostile to the environment, most people will tell you they will opt for environmentally-friendly products or services. However, if they are confronted in the real life to choose between higher costs or a change in their lifestyle as generally associated with such environmentally-good options, and their normal bargain-seeking, no-change-thus-no-pain attitude, the latter option generally prevails. Consequently, better and more thorough public education campaigns must be implemented before governmental and corporate officers can muster the will to implement truly green policies. We cannot ask from them what we are not ready to do ourselves. Once such an increased public awareness is established, and consequently lifestyles and buying habits are significantly modified, we can expect sustainable developments policies to take hold in most countries.
Q. What is now preventing such a better educated information to be widely available to the public to consequently enhance the implementation of sustainable development policies?
A. That is probably the heart of the problem. Since most media respond to people's interests and concerns in choosing which information to present to them, and since an information is newsworthy only if it has a quality of being "new", a catastrophe that suddenly happens with huge loss of human lives and material property or a new scientific discovery, the coverage of environmental news and subjects is rarely sustained and is more on a crisis-response basis. It took over 20 years of unrelenting public education campaigns by thousands of small environmental groups with generally limited means, in conjunction with a growing string of major environmental catastrophes reported in the news for the public to become interested and aware that something is really going wrong with the environment. But even today with such a "demand", it still takes major ecological blunders or threats to displace other more "normal" news in the media and inform the public on what is going on. The media, although being much more responsive and more prone to cover environmental news, will shy away from making in-depth analysis of any situation and really trying to educate the people about why something is happening. At a time when they should accept their responsibility, with the immense power they have over public opinion and minds, to really make a difference in the world through doing search-and-find journalistic inquiry to denounce the real culprits of environmental laisser-faire, they confine themselves to superficial reporting that never questions the system or the motives behind what happens in the world. One of the most obvious reasons of this is the fact that most major media are owned by the very interests which profit from lax environmental standards and attitudes, thus leading to self-censorship for fear of "being thrown out on the street". Money speaks louder than ethical standards here. Only public broadcasters financed by the government can afford a certain degree of editorial freedom, although the threat of losing millions in advertizement dollars also wield a substantial censoring influence when they rely on that for a significant portion of their financing.
Q. What sort of information should the media present to tip the balance in favor of sustainable development as well as political and corporate accountability when it comes to punishing the feetdraggers and the wrongdoers?
A. There already exists a few examples of what direction the media should take to increase public awareness such as some educational TV series produced by Ted Turner Broadcasting and PBS in the U.S., One World TV Network in Europe, NHK Japan and TV Ontario, to name just a few of them. One approach is to depict in scientific terms the marvelous evolution and process of life on Earth, to present the amazing diversity of wildlife and its instinctual behaviors and also describe the existing and potential consequences of environmental wrongdoings by humanity or by specific corporations. Another approach is to listen to advocates from specialized environmental groups and heed their advice as to what must be done to correct environmental imbalance. Showcasing environmental success stories as well as the builders and doers of such success stories is also an excellent way of showing tangible results and thus inspiring other people to take action along similar lines.
But there is much more that could be done. One of the main area as already mentioned is critical reporting of environmental news and continuous follow-up on information and situation previously presented. Maintaining problematic situations in the public's eyes and minds will ensure that political action is taken and increase the odds that sustainable solutions will be implemented. Another very significant contribution to better public education would be to link all our choices as consumers with their end results on the environment and the resource base from which we draw all our products. Showing on one hand the horrendous damages caused by greed and profit motivated economic activities on the fragile web of life, all such activities being therefore depicted as clearly unsustainable, and showing on the other hand all those which are carefully studied not only to minimize their impact on the environment but most importantly to enhance the richness and diversity of nature, such as organic agriculture and permaculture, would make clear for all the need to increase our green buying habits and select only non-harmful products and services. Also linking the economic imbalance in North-South trade practices as well as the unceasing drain of the debt burden on underdeveloped countries with their related drive to liquidate their environmental assets for short term gains is another area where the media should focus. As outlined in the Brundtland Report, poor and hungry people cannot afford the luxury of environmental protection and restoration unless the market forces keeping them in such conditions are taken off their back so they may feed and house themselves appropriately. The interdependence of the whole world must therefore be emphasized.
There are all sorts of issues that the media should go after, such as the establishment of immense truly protected wilderness areas while some pieces of relatively untouched lands still remain; the recognition of aboriginal people land claims throughout the world since they have lived there for centuries without destroying everything; the timber trade destructive impact on tropical and temperate forests; the excessive hunting and fishing of endangered animals and fishes stocks; the toxic and radioactive waste trade and contamination of aquifers; the overeating of meat products and the consequent impact on huge tracks of lands, especially the 3% of U.S. livestock grazing on public lands and ravaging millions of acres of natural habitats; the overconsumption patterns encouraged by a continuous barrage of advertizement wasting millions of tons of paper; and the list could continue like that almost endlessly. But throughout all reports, the media must keep emphasizing what truly sustainable practices would be in each problem area and try to show existing examples of sustainability, while reminding us of the millions of years-old nature's example of sustainable relationship between the millions of life forms harmoniously inhabiting this literally living planet Earth.
Q. Could you explain a little more why we should consider the Earth as a living entity and what impact this interesting idea could have on our individual and collective behaviour?
A. This other concept of the Earth as a living planet is part of a growing field of scientific research arising from numerous observations pointing to the fact that the Earth biosphere and its chemical composition has been thoroughly modified by the life processes during the last four billion years and that its present status of self-regulating homeostasis, that is, life maintaining the balanced conditions favorable to its continued existence here, indicates the presence of some overall form of intelligence responsible for the coordination of trillions of individual life forms in the collective task of maintaining balance and harmony in nature. Known as the Gaia Hypothesis, this revolutionary idea has already started to influence in significant ways numerous people and organizations as to how they view the Earth and their relationship to "her".
Coupled with the sustainable development concept, this perception of the "aliveness" of the global biosphere and the intricate bonding between all life forms, including our own species, has the potential for creatively modifying our actions and behaviors with regards to the environment. In fact, instead of viewing nature as something out there "environning" us, that we should protect or not overabuse for self-interested reasons, we are beginning to perceive ourselves as an indissociable element of the global functioning of this multi-faceted being and therefore sense the vital need to align our deeds and thinking according to the perpetuation of our own being - since Gaia lives within us in "virtual reality" or, seen otherwise, since we live within Gaia like the cells of a brain living within a huge, complex body. This change of paradigm, this new way of seeing ourselves and the world around us, will have far-reaching consequences and will be a determining factor in shifting us towards a sustainable relationship with all other life forms.
Q. What instrument or global organization could be the most effective in implementing the policy changes required to save the world?
A. Presently no single organization or country has the power or is mandated to protect and restore the whole planet, and the inherent logic of existing national and corporate interests goes against this vital goal. The only way such a feat could be accomplished is through the creation of an internationally elected body representing all people from all countries and mandated to take all necessary measures to actually save the world, monitor the activities of multi-national corporations and restrain abusive environmental damages caused by any individual country. Instead of the present U.N. system designed in an age of outright competition for land and resources to counterbalance the excesses of aggressive countries, the world should now realize the need for such an elected global body and accept to remit a portion of national sovereignty and tax-levying powers to such an organism that would therefore be empowered to speak and act of behalf of the wellbeing of the whole. An excellent opportunity could be seized during the Earth Summit process to start a dialogue on this question and eventually lead to the establishment of an "United Earth Organization" by the end of this century, while attending as best as possible to the very urgent needs for environmental regulation and repair worldwide.
Q. In conclusion, what would you recommend as the most appropriate way for individual people to have an effective influence on the global and hopefully positive outcome of our present environmental crisis and where should we start?
A. The first and foremost thing one should keep in mind is that whatever happens in the world and whomever is responsible for what happens, the only person one can influence and whose behaviour can be controlled for the benefit of the whole is oneself. Each one of us is the most important actor in the human drama now unfolding on a planetary scale and each one of us can choose to be part of the solution, instead of being part of the problem. In addition to contributing by all our personal choices in life through what we buy, who we decide to vote for and how we respond to the global crisis, we must never underestimate the power of one determined individual guided by a clear vision and motivated by high ideals, an uncompromising ethic and an unconditional compassion for others and all life forms in bringing the whole world a little bit closer to sanity, peace and harmony. This is the only force that has always been the catalyst for any change occurring on Earth. Be it for the protection of human rights, for the prevention of nuclear war or for the achievement of a better world for all, individual will and action shall remain forever the unique rampart against blind violence, sheer destruction and stupidity erected as a system.
Justice for all, respect for all expressions of nature and love for all that lives may sometime appear like a distant dream. Yet this dream is growing in every human being ever since we have started to walk on this gorgeous planet and look up in the sky at night to gaze at the starry vault embracing our awakening consciousness with rays of dim light, echoing unseen marvels and prodigious wisdom. We are the living flesh of this huge body of life whose throbbing heart beats in our chests and whose crystalline and lucid awareness flickers in our brains. Like all other life forms in this mighty, unfathomable universe, we have been given a mission, not to have dominion over other life forms and conquer natural habitats for our sole benefit, but to open new skies of co-creative ingenuity with the other beings and civilizations inhabiting this planet and, undoubtedly, countless other planets, as far as the mind can imagine.
We must close our eyes, from time to time, calm our thoughts and go deep within to feel, sense, touch this growing awareness that expands its gentle arms and fingers to hold the whole of humanity in one single self-conscious being, a being so full of Love, Compassion and Serenity as to be like a divine expression of God, the true Reality now being expressed on this land, as it was in the Beginning that never was, as it will be in the End that will never be... and as it is Now more than ever.
With these answers in mind you then have the option of settling down to the task of bringing your dedicated contribution for a better and healthier world, which is certainly an option that is worth living and fighting for now that you have regained your full awareness. You have had enough of living unconsciously and will certainly not sit down idle while the whole world is crying out for help and the commitment of responsible individuals ready to do whatever is necessary to bring the whole planet back to life... as you did for yourself after 20 long years in the coma.
NOTE: The following sound bites were originally printed in the left margin of the text and did correspond to (and summarized in a nutshell) each paragraph...
Now, imagine you were in a coma for 20 years and you awaken in 2001... What sort of world would you discover and what would you think of it?
It could be something like this...
At first, all seems to look good, but then you realize that something with the environment is going very wrong!
But the idea of sustainable development offers some hope.
You meet with a panel of experts to ask what needs to be done to save the Earth.
Are we good at solving our worsening environmental crisis?
Not good enough so far for lack of any comprehensive long-term vision and plan.
The root causes of our problems have not yet been thoroughly examined.
Can we really change?
Yes, but environmental awareness is still much too superficial.
Everyone is for a better environment, provided it costs nothing more.
Who holds the key to a better public education?
The media, of course! Once the media open our eyes, we will see.
But they are afraid of telling the whole truth because Big Money might not like it...
What should they tell us now?
Well, many many things indeed!
Let us see who is doing good and what they have to say!
Keep going after the problem-makers, and tell us what we should not buy.
Look also at our unrelenting exploitation of the Third World. We are interdependent.
Push for quick improvement in all sorts of forgotten issues.
Show us the existing solutions, including the most successful example: Nature!
Why is the Earth alive?
Because without continuous intelligent adjustments made by Life, there would simply be no Life on Earth.
Realizing this would change everything...
And we would see where we fit in.
Who speaks for the Earth?
No one has this power... so far! A new reformed U.N. could do it.
Who can change it all?
You! And you, and you and you...
"I have a dream..."
Go within... and reach out!... NOW!
This is your waked-up Call. Do it!
Written during two consecutive afternoons of pleasing and easy-flowing inspiration, March 21 and 22, 1992 and re-actualized a bit in 1999 and 2001.
HERE ARE SOME POSITIVE SIGNS OF PROGRESS
3 Apr 2001
BP Amoco launched the world's largest solar energy project on Friday, promising to bring electricity to 150 remote villages in the Philippines. Financed in part by the Spanish government, the $48 million project will supply solar power to 400,000 people, providing energy for basic lighting and irrigation and drinking water systems. BP Solar CEO Bo Harmon says that funding organizations around the world are turning to low-cost solar energy to help spur economic development in developing countries. BP's solar power division has annual revenues of about $200 million and holds a 20 percent global market share.
Planet Ark, Reuters, 02 Apr 2001
IT'S ABOUT TIME
Perhaps there's hope for the planet after all? In reaction to President Bush's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto treaty on climate change, Time magazine produced a special issue this week, devoting 16 pages to the hard science showing that climate change is upon us and to the political fallout from Bush's (boneheaded) move. The issue also includes a letter to Bush from Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, John Glenn, Walter Cronkite, George Soros, J. Craig Venter, Jane Goodall, Edward O. Wilson, Harrison Ford, and Stephen Hawking, telling the president to get his act together. A Time-CNN poll taken after the Bush administration announced the decision found that three-fourths of Americans consider global warming to be a serious problem. Meanwhile, international criticism of the decision continues to mount -- yesterday, for example, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that he regrets Bush's stance.
Time magazine, 09 April 2001 issue
I ESPECIALLY RECOMMEND THIS TIME MAGAZINE SPECIAL ISSUE ON GLOBAL WARMING. IT IS EXCELLENT!
Los Angeles Times, 02 April 2001
SOME GOOD SOURCES OF INFORMATION
From: "Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D." <email@example.com>
We have talked much about the problems with using the mainstream media as one's only info source. Here are some sites to visit that will give you an alternative view:
Independent Media network: http://www.indymedia.org/
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting: http://www.fair.org/
In These Times newsmagazine: http://www.inthesetimes.org/
Independent News and Information: http://www.alternet.org/
Institute for Global Communications:
Working for Change: http://www.workingforchange.com/
Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org/
AND AN INDICATION THAT TRUE ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS IN THE U.S. IS STILL NOT DEEPLY ROOTED...
From: "Mark Graffis" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Who's to Blame on Global Issues?
Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001
Published on Friday, April 6, 2001 in the Boston Globe
Who's to Blame on Global Issues?
by Derrick Z. Jackson
IT IS NO secret why President Bush is tightening his colonial grip on Earth's environment. He is doing it for us, the ugly Americans who must confess that we enjoy this modern imperialism, our sovereign right to suck the planet dry.
Except for some howling environmentalists, there still is no major sign that the average American is seriously offended by Bush's rampage of environmental reversals.
The most flagrant have been his abandonment of his campaign promises and the Kyoto accords to curb the industrial carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. This week USA Today reported that Bush is preparing a blueprint to open up millions of acres of federally protected lands for oil and gas drilling. These lands are currently for scenic or wildlife protection purposes.
Bush does not care one whit that he has become a lightning rod of protest from world leaders, ranging from the European Union to the Maldives.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is warning that global warming could be ''catastrophic.'' France's minister for the environment, Dominique Voynet, said that Bush's actions are ''completely provocative and irresponsible.'' German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said, ''Nobody should be relieved from his responsibility for climate control.''
How the tables have turned on these former imperialists. The British once said the sun never set on their empire. Now it is America that boasts that Sunoco will never set.
The environment has become the issue that most nakedly fixes the arrogance of the United States toward the rest of the world, an arrogance not seen since Vietnam. Our notion of globalism is a one-way street. Our corporations exploit the cheapest of labor for our clothes. Our oil companies foul the marshlands of the poorest of people for our gasoline. Our cigarette companies dump cancer on the least healthy, and our trash food and soda companies addict the most malnourished to our sugar, for what? The sake of our 401(k)s.
But when it comes to the fact that our 4 percent of the world's population belches out 25 percent of the industrial greenhouse gases into Earth's atmosphere, we invoke the Global Rule. ''Them that gots the globe make the rules.'' You would expect nothing less in a nation where indulgence is now an imperative.
The proof is in the polls. A new Time/CNN poll found that 75 percent of Americans considered global warming a very serious or fairly serious problem. Last year a Gallup Poll found that 67 percent of Americans said that the environment should be given a higher priority than economic development.
All that goes up the exhaust pipe when decisions get personal. Now that gasoline prices are up and Californians are being held hostage by the power companies and their suppliers, a Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll found that 46 percent of Americans favor relaxing environmental standards to build more power plants, compared with 39 percent that do not.
In the Time/CNN poll only 48 percent of Americans said that they would be willing to pay 25 cents more for a gallon of gasoline. Earth Day is now officially marked on many calendars, but in America, the percentage of Americans who consider themselves ''environmentalists'' has plummeted from 78 percent in a 1991 Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll to 50 percent in 1999.
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