All Together Now

we either all get serious or we all perish together

A wonderful documentary, Chasing Ice by James Balog, recently aired on National Geographic. What the filmmakers did was provide visual proof of the speed with which the ice is retreating from glaciers and from the poles, and that global warming is real – which, they say, many people still doubt. This proof, and the TED lectures they held to support their view, are an effort to create awareness in the hope of influencing people to change their lifestyle and so stop or slow global warming. They dedicated the film to their children and voiced the wish to be able to tell them fifty years hence that they did everything they knew how.

Similar messages come from other programmes, such as Extreme Weather, showing evidence of the already changing weather events – increasingly severe hurricanes and typhoons and extreme winters and heat waves – that are a result of global warming.

Then there are the sustained efforts of Greenpeace to protect the arctic and other natural habitats from drilling for oil, fracking and other potentially hazardous human endeavours. Each of these tries to entice individuals into changing their habits and calls for voluntary action.

And like the above, there are countless other projects, all more or less on the same track in trying to create awareness and generate support in either helping the Earth, halting poverty and disease, helping kids be safe, stopping abuse, and creating tolerance and peace; each with their own ideals and beliefs about causes and goals, and all are started somewhere by a few motivated individuals, because not just filmmakers, writers, artists and activists, but most people wish to be able to tell their children that they did everything in their power to make life better for them.

Yet all of the above are global problems, all of them in part due to the amount of people this Earth is trying to accommodate, and all of them influence each other, so that we are not talking about isolated events but about a global emergency we are trying to avoid.

Sure, creating awareness is a good thing, but I believe that the awareness is already there in many people – in enough people to start making a difference, at least. However, just awareness doesn’t lead to sufficient action. As said, each project does its own thing and each focuses on a specific area or problem, and since democracy is said to rely on civilians speaking out and being active, which can only work if those civilians are important to the politicians because they can generate enough support to influence the polls, there is a need to work together.

Yet I understand why so many people prefer to start their own little project rather than joining existing organizations: Those already established have a (usually bureaucratic) infrastructure and are often reluctant to listen to individuals with slightly different viewpoints – just like the politicians ignore them and just like many academics tend to ignore new insights from those without credentials in their field.

So we know the idealism is there, the will is there, the knowledge of how to go about it is also in part there, and the insight is there (although not always in the right place), so that our ability to influence the current trend toward disaster is not a question of unwillingness or a lack of awareness, but of a lack of global organization. On a large scale, people keep driving their cars, keep burning their fires and keep buying luxuries; abuse keeps happening, poverty and disease are on the increase, as is violence, and we still have wars.

The global problem, the big picture, is simply too big for most people. To say that most scientists agree that global warming is real and that weather related disasters will get worse and more frequent, is saying that most scientists are repeating what is the currently held belief about the climate, but that doesn’t help if most people simply don’t have the means to change where they buy their food, how they keep warm, and what transport or communication devices they use – they are forced to accept what is available to their means – so that warnings of experts in Earth sciences, as long as they don’t understand social or political human behaviour, are not going to generate the needed action.

Rich people may be building “green” houses, but as long as they still buy each of their children a car, they are not really helping. Politicians may support their local environmental project, but as long as they are willing to compromise for votes, they are not doing it for the right reasons. Heads of state may proclaim the need for peace, but as long they keep pointing the finger at other nations, they don’t really work to create a better world. As long as every person keeps insisting on their rights to equality and freedom based on the belief that they are intelligent enough to make decisions in every topic, they do not really understand the problem.

The problem is that if we keep accepting the dogmas of the last generation, we will not be able to save the next: It simply no longer matters whether global warming was caused by human habitation or a natural event aggravated by us. It simply no longer matters whether the US or China is the biggest polluter. It simply no longer matters who started a conflict; the only thing that matters anymore for the people of this Earth is how to stop the environmental disaster we are facing.

And as long as the different inborn talents of different people are not acknowledged, the cooperation needed to achieve global change cannot happen. Typology explains why most people have trouble picturing the future as differently from today – they see a picture of familiar things, like jobs, homes, holidays and shops and they cannot envision something entirely different. This picturing is a personality function – some people simply need a bit of help because their natural talent lies in seeing practical solutions for the here and now, and people who are attuned to here and now cannot see the there and then. This group of people whose big picture is not quite as big as they believe it to be, includes most democratically elected politicians – as I have many times explained in other posts and books.

Therefore, if we are truthful about wanting to do everything in our power for the sake of our children, we must begin by creating a socio-political situation that allows new insights and that is ready to take action rather than sit back and wait. This requires a sacrifice from all of us – a sacrifice that begins with the acknowledgment that we don’t know it all and that despite being conditioned to believe that ability is merely a matter of choice and university diplomas, people have different natural talents, insights and interests and thus that “scientists” may understand the ecology and earth science, but in order to motivate people, they need to understand human psychology (not their neurology). We need to acknowledge that politicians may have studied societies in school, but that doesn’t give them the personality traits to be leaders, and that voters may all have equal rights but that doesn’t all give them the same insights in the global problem.

We NEED to understand that despite being brought up with the belief that equality means voting in elections, most people simply follow the going trend without understanding the bigger picture and therefore such votes are not going to generate the needed change.

Imagine a fire crew being called out to a house fire. When they get there, they all assess the situation and then sit down in a circle so they can vote on the needed action, because they are all equals. I hope it isn’t my house they are trying to save. Democracy CANNOT work in an emergency.

If that sounds harsh, then I am sorry – it is another inconvenient truth. Emergencies require leadership and leadership comes with people who are born to lead. A leader has natural insight in the big picture, the ability to both listen and make decisions and no selfish interests. You may argue that power corrupts, but from a psychological perspective, that is only true for those people who are not meant to be in power, so that those types of people who proclaim this are simply projecting their own tendencies or repeating the story they have been fed from the moment they went to school, which proves this lack of insight.

First of all, it isn’t true. There are examples of absolute power that generated peace and prosperity for most people in a society: Rome was on the brink of disaster when Augustus took over. Without him it would have, without any doubt, crumbled and the ordinary people would have suffered.

Secondly, there is an alternative, an in between. It isn’t either democracy or tyranny; there are other political systems possible. Just look at how businesses are run – and they do take action where it is needed.

Thirdly, we have no choice. You call it freedom because you have been told that having a vote once every four years guarantees you that, but where is your freedom when the politicians ignore you, push laws for their own benefit and people are living more and more in fear? And just having a vote is not having a voice – voices are listened to.

Democracy is neither a guarantee to freedom nor a solution to our environmental emergency and the sooner we are willing to acknowledge that, the more of a chance we have to saving our children.

If you are willing to give up your democracy and your car and some more luxuries, and if we are all willing to give up our nationality and our stupid little wars and prejudices, we may actually be able to save the Earth.

Just saying that people need to be aware is a feel good gesture, because most people will NOT change their habits voluntarily, if for no other reason than that they simply cannot see how. Like it or not (and I don’t like it either) we need leaders to make them do so.

Without radical change we WILL see a major global environmental disaster within the next decade. Without radical change we WILL have a total disintegration of all civil laws or a major world war. Without radical change we WILL destroy the future of the entire next generation.

Life is not a dream: wake up. There is no time left.

So for the sake of our children and grandchildren, let us make sure we can tell them fifty years hence that we DID turn it around for them. That we got together and put our small differences aside for them; that we all gave up some of the things we didn’t think we could dispense with. Let us be able to tell them that we all together ensured them many a Happy New Year.