Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Great Disruption

This book by ex CEO of Green Peace, Paul Gilding, pulls together research, interviews and history as well as Paul’s own business perspective to create a masterpiece of understanding of where we are, how we got here and where we must go.

I will need to re-read some parts to be able to talk intelligently about the facts, but I am much more of a gist person. Interestingly, many of us already understand the gist of our current predicament, simply by taking a by-stander’s eye view. Those of us in our 50’s and beyond see so many facets of our world turning sour. A world previously understood is becoming chaotic, from chemical residues in the depths of the sea to mega-melting of polar ice caps, from alarming increases in climate related catastrophes to huge political upheavals related to economic collapse, from foreign ownership of our Australian farmlands to coal seam gas ripping our food bowls apart, from epidemics of depression and anxiety to a world full to overflowing with plastic consumables. We all know something is not right.

That this ‘something’ is about to explode in our faces, this century and in the life times of most of us reading this, can make us bury our heads further in the sand and soldier on. Many people have not grasped the fact that we, the human race, chose our path of economic growth not long ago. It has worked well but it is past its ‘best before’ date and we must make a new model for the future. If we wander along this same path, not looking where we are going, we will fall over a cliff and tear civilisation apart. If we stop a moment and take stock now, facing up to the fact that we have choices and now is the time to make them, we will have time, brief and intense it may be, to lay down the foundations of a new path.

Many such thinkers and movers have come to live in and around Cygnet, including Paul Gilding himself! We are a loosely connected band of people seeking something beyond consumerism and a huge mortgage. Many do not know why it feels right here but right it does feel and eventually I hope we will be able to pull together to reassemble community, sharing and a less introspective lifestyle.

I am only just past half way in my reading of The Great Disruption but I have now come to the ‘roll up your sleeves and get started’ section of the book. I can’t wait to read about and put into action, as an individual at least, the construction of a new, firm path for our future and I am sure it will include saving our own seeds!

I am reading it on Kindle…. I feel it is better to buy a product like an ebook reader, once, than it is to keep cutting down trees to make paper for every book I read.

2 comments:

Gavin Webber said...

You are so right Kate. It is an exceptional book. You will not be disappointed with the second half.

Gav x

Daphne said...

I've got to agree and disagree with that perspective. I'm 50 and felt that the world was just as chaotic and crazy as it is now if not more so. I live in the US so might have a different perspective than someone in Australia. In the 60s and the 70s which was my childhood, we were under the threat of the cold war. Many of my generation were convinced that at some point nuclear war would break out and we would destroy the planet. Bomb shelters were built. My dad had a years worth of food buried in the back yard. The Vietnam war was going on and we had violent protests all across the US. Silent Spring was written. We had been poisoning our land for ages and were doing nothing about it (eight years later the US put in the Environmental Protection Agency). The first house I owned was about a mile from a Superfund site (areas that were contaminated with hazardous waste and require a long term effort to clean up). In the 70s we had our first (well that I know of) problem with our farmers all growing the same seed genetically (most of the corn was a hybrid with one gene that made it susceptible to corn smut, and in the US most of the corn planted those years was using that gene). We were in a major recession with out of control inflation in the 70s and the outlook was bleak. We had gas rationing. People thought we were close to the end of oil at the time. Which is sort of like now, but at least now we have the promise of affordable renewables. The nastiness of this birthed the "me" generation. And the 80s was all about greed and self-fulfillment. We lost the ideal of community and self sacrifice. So I'm going with our current situation really doesn't look any bleaker than what I saw growing up. Again you might have a different perspective in Australia but in the US the 60s and 70s were pretty chaotic and people were scared on a lot of levels.

What I do agree with is that we need to develop a new economy that isn't growth oriented. Growth isn't sustainable. We live on a planet with limited resources.