Home | About | Donate

Earth Is Warning Us We Must Change. Will We Listen?

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/04/earth-warning-us-we-must-change-will-we-listen


"Let us welcome the growing recognition that returning to business as usual is neither possible nor desirable." (David Korten)


I visited Maui, Hawaii for the first time in July of 1980.

I just finished looking over my “Atlas of Hawaii”, a souvenir book I bought back then, and realized that the State of Hawaii was only twenty years and 11 months old at that time (August 21, 1959).

Apparently there was a great transition when statehood happened - from plantation based economy to tourism, and I was witness to part of these changes relatively early in the process, for I saw with my own eyes substantial changes over the period from 1980 to the early nineties. I imagine that change has only accelerated since then - until the pandemic.

Here is an interesting article which provides a look in microcosm as what David Korten was talking about in the quote of his I chose to start this conversation. I feel the same way as the general tenor of the Maui residents views.

It is one of my only regrets that I have been unable to take my wife and son to Maui and Oahu - for without a doubt Hawaii remains for me the most beautiful place I personally have ever been - but then I saw it with an eye to the changing ocean, season by season, and the history of all its people, from the original inhabitants thru the Tahitian takeover, Polynesian voyaging canoes and Navigation, to the ‘just off the jet’ crowd.

David Korten asks - “will we listen” ?

I was listening long ago !

Who then is not listening ?



You know, the Earth is really not all that vulnerable - but we are ~

PS #2: For a taste of both the history and the beauty - “The North Shore” (currently available on Netfix) - is one of those cult classics - myself very much included. ‘Turtle’ is awesome - I’ve been to the North Shore - and ran a 7 mile foot race nearby ( Wahiawa, as I recall) - good memories ~

1 Like

As ever David hits the nail on the head .

All evolving races come to understand what he said about being good stewards and caring for the Earth and each other .

Life must function for all, not just a small percent of us the rich and powerful who do the exploiting.

A guiding principle of Oneness and understanding of sufficiency must be part of the process we use to continue our evolution.

Its choice point now …where do we go ?

1 Like

Another lesson we’re learning involves the nature of money. COVID-19 prompted the U.S. Congress and Federal Reserve to create trillions of dollars in instant money for purposes both good and bad. Never has it been so clear that money is just a number that national governments can create from nothing. Consequently, lack of money should never be a society’s defining constraint so long as idle or misdirected resources are available for new money to put to work meeting real needs.

True, but the whole reason the Federal Reserve exists is because bankers were able to argue that the power to print money is too great to be entrusted to politicians, who would use it to buy votes without a shred of fiscal responsibility. Whether that is true or not of course depends both upon who is in the government and who is in charge of the banking system, but even before the Fed’s latest shenanigans it was clear that neither could really be trusted with that much power in the long run.

I propose, therefore, that all money be printed for one and only one purpose, and that is to give everyone a cradle-to-grave universal basic income, while funding government with a system of Pigovian taxes that penalizes greenhouse gas emissions, excessive hoarding of wealth, drug use and other activities that it would be too onerous to try to strictly regulate. These taxes would also keep inflation in check. To be effective, full reserve banking should also be made the law, so that privately owned (albeit publicly traded) banks cannot create money for other purposes as they now do.

This is effectively a restricted version of MMT, and it would end both inequality and climate change even without a Green New Deal per se (although we should do that too given how serious these problems have now become).

On this “Pale Blue Dot” - Capitalism is a cancer. The billionaires are like the Baobabs in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince”. We must root them out - it is simply a matter of hygiene.



Curious if you have been to Hawaii ?

Yes. We need a different relationship with the Earth and the rest of biological life. Our preferred life of exploitation and destruction is cruel and a serious failure long-term. The Earth is fragile. Anyone who has the smallest glimpse of how low-tech, low population, and low development the world was just 100 years ago will realize that we have done the overwhelming majority of damage to the planet in little more than the average expected life span of one human being in this country.

I’m not sure we will survive, no matter what we do, given how long we have known that we were making the entire planet uninhabitable and chose to ignore that fact. I also think the wealthy among us will insist that we keep on making them rich until the very bitter end. We’re pretty deep into an extinction event, and all of it is only going to get worse faster as we go along. We really, really needed to make profound changes in the 1960s. That’s how fragile the Earth is.

I don’t disagree with any of the lessons learned, but if I wrote an article on humans learning the limits of the earth and concentrated on fertility choice and population and never discussed economic systems and consumption patterns, I’d rightly be criticized. But somehow almost every time someone writes this type of article, they never bring up fertility choice when to not see it is a key part of the mess we are in is just about the biggest cognitive dissonance example I can think of.

Not that there aren’t any articles on the impact of the Covid crisis on birth rates - there are (e.g. ~https://www.brookings.edu/research/half-a-million-fewer-children-the-coming-covid-baby-bust/) it’s just that they take the typical crazy view that low fertility rates are a problem to be avoided instead of a solution to be embraced.

Yes- Many times…
Always left Oahu for the outer islands asap as usual with the travel restrictions-
Spent most of my time on Kauai at Valley House and in the Kalalau Valley , but that is another story…
Why do you ask?

Thought you might have learned something in Hawaii of use here -