Over 500 experts contributed. The consensus is that progress and attention is lagging the need for change. If data is restricted to those with a decade or more of experience the picture is worse.
Progress is dominated by social entrepreneurs and NGOs while national governments’ and corporates’ performance is considered poor.
The lack of attention by governments and corporates is underpinned by their “clients” – voters and consumers – so clearly there remains among people generally a lack of awareness of the need and opportunity for system change. People don’t perceive the dangers of failing commercial and social systems and the disintegration of Earth’s natural environment upon which we rely.
Perhaps this is not surprising. Except for change agents and social entrepreneurs, people are not engaged with the problems of the world but instead stick to traditional mindsets and routines. (The SDG’s themselves are fundamentally flawed in their promotion of growth, as opposed to working within natural laws and the capacity of the biosphere.) Continue reading Time is running out: Behind the curve on SDGs
Open your eyes.
Begin to see your life.
Realise you can choose another path.
Being aware is the first step. Educate yourself. Choose to live with nature, rather than without nature.
The waterfall is heard before you see it. The thunderous torrent crashing on the rocks resounds about the valley.
As you approach, the mist becomes visible, as vapour bubbles up from the torrent. The spray blows far and wide so that when you come close you are soon soaked. From close up you can barely see the path of the waterfall as the clouds of mist and spray obscure its fall. Yet you can feel the reverberation through the ground.
The waterfall is mighty! People come from far and wide to see the waterfall. It is celebrity. People want to be like the waterfall, strong, impressive, powerful.
But strangely the waterfall does little more than make noise and spit before the water passes on calmly through the valley. Continue reading The Waterfall and The Rain
What? Not me. No way! Slavery is bad.
Yeah, but … you’re still part of the problem. We all are.
Here’s a piece of the big picture puzzle:
That food chain is run by big companies, big banks and rich owners. (You might be one without even realising it!)
It’s fuelled by people buying foods made with industrially grown vegetable oils. That means most products on the supermarket shelves, including all the big brands owned by companies like Nestle, Unilever, Pepsico, Heinz, Cargill, CocaCola, Kraft, P&G, … And the food chain is financed with money from big banks like Citi, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered, Mizuho, Rabobank, …
About 70% of calorie consumption is accounted for by metabolism though the absolute number varies little for people of different metabolic rates. So, if you’re an average male whose calorie burn is 2,000 a day (can be 1,500 – 2,500 depending on height), about 1,400 are consumed just being you (brain, breathing etc). For females whose calorie burn rate is 1,600, that would be 1,200 calories. Another 400 (320 for females) or so are consumed by digestion (can be 100-800). And then there’s movin’ and shakin’ aka exercise.
Standing instead of sitting can burn an extra 50 calories an hour (10-80). So if you stand instead of sit at the desk you’ll burn maybe an extra 300 calories a day. Jogging for an hour can burn 700 calories. And running burns about twice te calories per minute of walking. Simply fidgeting will raise your metabolic rate and make a difference. If you have a physically demanding day, like cleaning, digging, building etc, you’ll be burning more calories than a desk-worker, but that doesn’t mean a bit of a workout isn’t going to help the parts of your body the daily routine doesn’t reach, like your tummy! And it’s good to breathe.
We’re talking 20 years or so here.
In 20 years we’ll be facing Big Stuff. Climate change, weather volatility, species loss, clean air, clean water, … that whole environment thing will be getting much more serious and everyone will be dealing with it in some way or another. I’m hoping it’ll make Ireland a bit more like the south of France, and it might, but whatever else, it’s going to make the simple things in life more difficult. For most of humanity that will include feeding themselves and getting clean water.
So that will make food and land more important.
In 20 years we may well have passed “The Singularity“. That’s a term coined by futurists, often with a trans-humanist bent, which denotes the inevitable point at which technology development starts happening “by itself”. This occurs as humanity’s understanding of physics and biology enable the creation of thinking machines (computers) that emulate the brain, and then androids and cyborgs begin to be used in place of people.
Certainly in 20 years technology will have changed our world even more than in the past 20. Do not imagine The Singularity to be fantasy. We are close already. The mobile phone/computer in your pocket is old technology compared with neuro-computers being tested in laboratories. Robots are already becoming remarkably similar to C-3PO in looks and mobility at least. Today the consequences are being felt in most professions as AI (artificial intelligence) takes jobs away from humans. This is what we all wanted – automatic checkout, automatic cashier, automatic accountant, automatic lawyer, automatic vehicle … The challenge now being solved is automatic creativity.
Joe Dispenza has been elucidating the science of mind for decades. In this talk (embedded below) he gives a clear, easy to follow description of how the mind works and how a person can change themselves by, literally, changing their mind.
To summarise: The brain is constantly changing – the growth, decay, connection and disconnection of neurons is the electro-chemical, physical manifestation of mind. Recognising one’s own thoughts allows you to manage them in a positive way, rather than allowing them to propagate chaotically. (This is why cognitive behavioural therapy works, even to the extent of being a go to treatment for clinical depression.) So, when faced with stress or challenge, you pause, take a breath, consider the situation and look for positive aspects, which includes taking a different approach. Taking a positive approach lowers stress (good), and allows the mind to think more critically to find solutions (good) instead of resorting to primitive, knee-jerk responses.
People who are seeking change in the world or themselves will appreciate the scientific foundation of these ideas, which have been practices for centuries by yogis, monks and ascetics. The technique is also used, whether consciously or not, by successful people who control their behaviour – this includes academics, athletes and sportspeople, musicians, thespians, entrepreneurs and organisation leaders.
As well as using your mind as a simple tool for changing yourself, recognising your biological nature allows you to choose a path which yields happiness and health. This happens when you manage stress to allow your physical body to move to equanimity.
These ideas are very relevant for those of us who are seeking system change. Often our efforts are blocked by intransigence in incumbent institutions, systems and leaders – and that is frustrating and exhausting. Getting stressed is not a solution. Stepping back, letting go and moving forward in the right way is the only way to effect positive change. We are changing the system by changing ourselves. To change the world, we must change ourselves. It is not easy because the system is designed for dysfunction, but changing for good works, gets easier as you do it more and yields a fulfilling life. Think about it! And be the change you want to see in the world.
Enjoy the show:
COP21 comes to a close as the wind howls and Jaspar’s rugby game is cancelled because so much water fell on the pitch last night. Climate change is great, but it’s not good. I love the warmer weather so here in Ireland it’s almost as warm as Hong Kong in the winter; you can go jogging and enjoy the breeze. But the volatility of weather is a symptom of broken systems. Both civilisation and nature.
The consequences for the breakdown of nature and civilisation will be different. Nature will change – once nature was a burning ball in space, now it’s a paradise become decadent and failing. Civilisation will simply disappear – and might never come back.
For some the idea that the human systems are dysfunctional and the weight of humanity is crushing nature is familiar. For many of them, it is a new realisation and the response reflects where they come from: community driven people tend to activism, strategic operators tend to business solutions, organisers tend to regulation, and so on. For a few the notion of integral solutions is a dawning awareness.
All of these people are connected by social organisation and media. We all communicate with each other and ideas circulate quickly as nuggets of information on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, websites, journals, TV shows, … We tend to communicate with like minded people. It is not easy to cross over. But the filtering of from one group to another happens because in each of our circle of family and friends there are always a few “strange ones” who bring unfamiliar concepts to the conversation. (I might fit that description for many of my family and peers!)
Social media allows this cross-fertilisation of ideas and it reveals the homogeneity of your group of friends. Who shares ideas about politics, art, religion, business, .. and so on?
While there has been a great deal of activity related to COP21, it has been predominantly among the same people: People who want to see system change, or people who have a vested interest in things staying as they are.
The outcome of COP21 is not going to be remarkable. Sadly, the depth and breadth of understanding among leaders, and followers, is shallow and narrow. For example, even I was a little stunned, on the way back from picking Richard up from the airport, to calculate that we had released a quarter of his body weight of 60 odd kilos in CO2.
A litre of fuel releases between 0.6 and 0.7 kg of carbon, which grabs another two molecules of oxygen to make carbon di-oxide, bringing the weight to around 1.8 kg. So for a 150 km round trip at 45 mpg (15.8 km/litre) we needed 150/15.8 or 9.5 litres which create 17 kilos of CO2. Just that one event produced nearly the same weight of CO2 as you find in a bag of cement. It’s heavy! And it’s just one event on one day.
So even people like me can be stunned by the challenges we face.
The problem nature faces has much to do with energy and our gratuitous use of fossil fuels. The reality is that humanity must live within the laws of nature, including not consuming more energy in a year than that captured by photosynthesis in a year.
Civilisation is breaking down because the systems we have in place are unethical. Every crisis comes about because of moral failure. Corruption insinuates business, politics and religion. There are cries for change and some who show the way, but the establishment finds it hard to give up power. If evolution is not chosen, revolution erupts.
So while you are part of the establishment, spare a moment for the alternative view that is shared by the fringes of your social circle. It’s not about equality it’s about equity. Be open to finding a way for systems to evolve. The system is a result of everybody’s choices. We must all choose better. We must aim to do the right thing the right way.
A former hedge fund manager who bought a drug company has hiked the price of a generic drug 55x to pay for the purchase. The drug was $13.50 a dose but is now $750.00. It costs $1 to produce. The drug treats toxoplasmosis and is widely used by sufferers of AIDS.
So clearly Martin Shkreli, the capitalist in question, is all about the money. No morals. No philanthropy. In fact rather the opposite. What does that say about our society? When the winners take all? It’s not that he should be punished. It’s not that his wealth should be confiscated. It’s that we should ask ourselves what kind of civilisation we are choosing when this kind of behaviour appears “justifiable”, because it doesn’t seem just to me.
If the highest achievers, the brightest stars, the richest, the winners are only interested in taking more, shouldn’t we all wonder what morals our civilisation promotes? It’s not that people are bad – everyone’s “good”. But the result of all our choices promotes a dynamic which appears quite feudal and therefore inflexible, often unfair and probably dysfunctional. Certainly we are seeing the cracks in our civilisation – economic crisis, immigration crisis, food crisis, …
The solution? Change our choices. Each of us can make small changes which determine the shape of civilisation. What we eat, what we wear, what we consume, what we waste. Our individual behaviour results in the civilisation we have, including a hedge fund manager taking more stuff from people in already difficult circumstances.