The task, set by the World Environment Day, a UNEP, United Nations Environment Programme project, with “environment for development” as its underscore line, is:
“Write a compelling blog post about the Green Economy and how you/we are a part of it (for example in sustainable energy, green jobs, low carbon economies, green policies, green buildings, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, industries using efficient energy, sustainable tourism, sustainable transport, waste management, water and all other resource efficiency).” [http://unep.org/wed/blog/howto/]
Well, this is handy, being pretty much the next article I was set to scribe to my “Five Trillion Trees” blog, which accounts my progression in promoting substantial re-afforestation of the Planet. In previous postings I have described the logic of the position, from post ice age conditions through to present efforts to both curtail carbon use and also replant woodlands. All through this long era man-kind has been interacting with the natural world, always increasing his mastery over it.
Now, as the results of such dominance become ever more apparent, moves are developing to reduce this distorting impact. Aghast at the increasing damage, the Green movement has built groupings to protect and restore natural ecological balance. At the same time, those propelling the profligate distortions wish wholeheartedly to continue on their courses and they portray the Green Agenda as a defeatist option, signifying small thinking, weakness and failure.
In this latter they group isolated tribal communities eking out increasingly difficult livings on dwindling resources with organic growers accepting lower yields, woodland planters [“tree huggers!”], traditional craftsfolk and renewable energy producers [showing me round Wylfa nuclear power station, my guide stopped at a window and gestured at a group of six wind turbines “Look, that’s our opposition” he uttered with derision.]
Now here we must look at cities. The bulk of the population live in such assemblies and yet they seem so ungreen, creating their own hotter microclimates and emitting so much of our greenhouse gas release. Into this we seek to introduce a Green Economy?
To which I come back with a resounding “Yes” because I see it as progression to the new, sustainable era in opposition to established paths which generate too many negative outcomes. However we cannot just switch to Green although that is the desired long term outcome. Transition is such a challenge and the cities demonstrate how far we have to travel.
The crux is that the change has to come from the cities in order for it to bring about the desired repairs to the planet’s ecosystem, our supporting environment, and to reintroduce long term sustainability. A lot of the groundwork is being achieved right now on many fronts, although the present recession is severely testing this resolve. “We must have growth” is the current buzz phrase, almost with the rider “at any cost”.
In fact this is the golden opportunity, for a strong driver to the unsustainable economy of recent years was the drive to automate processes and so reduce the need for human labour. Further, wages were often driven down and employment exported to low wage areas, as costs of living constantly increased. The Green Economy turns all three round, requiring more and local labour, providing a living income and freeing the workers from the tyrannies of many living costs (rent, food and services can be far better controlled by the workforce).
But if this is the period of transition, can the two lifestyles co-exist? Obviously they do now but is this a separation akin to Homo sapiens from H. neanderthalensis. Must one perish or be totally absorbed into the other? I ask this because of the profoundly unsettling results derived from the juxtaposition of the two. Whereas H. sapiens viriditus can live in a wholly sustainable manner, H sapiens profligatus cannot and will constantly compromise the good circumstances created by his green cousins.
One has to surmise that continued dominance of the environment by H.s. profligatus could lead to both sub-species’ demise. This scenario has been explored in film – such as “The Age of Stupid” where the late Pete Postlethwaite plays the sole survivor narrating the story of the tragic mass extinction event precipitated by and including the human race. Paleo-anthropologist Richard Leakey, chronicling “The Sixth Extinction” describes how it seems we’ve done this before to countless species and are now causing the demise again of ever increasing numbers of species. Again, maybe including our own.
Thus the continued representation of H.sapiens on this planet seems to depend upon the success of the Green Economy and its pervading the whole human spectrum of engagement with our environment.
Fantastic. Brilliant. Super. Marvellous. Accept this and the whole World opens out. The goals are both simple and stupendously complicated. To live sustainably, to have long term plans which last for hundreds of years and many, many generations. To work with nature and not in opposition to it. To assess long term impacts of actions taken today and work to enhance futures not ignore or even sacrifice them. To feel a worth in the pursuance of these aims, and your place within them. It gives me such a warm glow to consider myself to be a part of this movement, to be laying its foundations even. It’s a bit like surfing the waves of time. Splash, wow, this one’s a real humdinger. Hold on…..