Thursday, August 6, 2009

Many Voices: The Future is Here

Worldwatch is highlighting the scarcity of resources that face our world now. "Water scarcity has many causes. Population growth is a major driver at the regional and global levels, but other factors play a large role locally. Pollution reduces the amount of usable water available to farmers, industry, and cities. The World Bank and the government of China have estimated, for instance, that 54 percent of the water in seven main rivers in China is unusable because of pollution. In addition, urbanization tends to increase domestic and industrial demand for water, as does rising incomes - two trends prominent in rapidly developing countries such as China, India, and Brazil."

And how is California dealing with this? By requiring that cities grow by huge amounts through the RHNA numbers assignments, by a loophole, in their general plans, in order to ensure continued building sector growth in the face of a growing, permanent drought. This is regardless of actual population demand or capacity for natural resources to provide support for urban living or ecological survival. Currently, a discussion of climate change adaptation at the State level is asking for public comment.

This irresponsibility is built into an unending growth for profit scenario that our system is based upon now, clearly an unsustainable course. Per the Growthbusters site: "Locally, nationally, and globally, modern society worships Growth Everlasting above all else. Economists preach the gospel of growth. We’ve built a system that has us addicted to growth. Real estate developers, chambers of commerce and economic developers are pushers lobbying and propagandizing to keep us hooked."

This issue goes beyond the ability of individuals to "conserve", as is exhorted by utilities and government agencies that lack a strategy to actually change the consumption model that they are built on. There are options, but they are disturbingly difficult, per an article in Orion: "The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world—none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet."

The economists at the federal and global levels are beginning to seriously discuss the need to change the economic fundamentals of a system that is no longer viable as a means of providing corporate profit. "Going forward, not only will economic growth disappoint, but the economic cycles will become more volatile again with several boom/bust cycles packed into the next couple of decades. This is a natural consequence of the Anglo-Saxon consumer-driven growth model having been bankrupted. Growing consumer spending over the past 30 years led to rapidly expanding service and financial sectors both of which will now contract for years to come as overcapacity forces players to downsize," per John Mauldin's post.

This involves not only changing the model, but a massive shift in values from the corporate-driven marketing and control of the entire energy/food/housing/money/transportation supply chain that is proving to be massively destructive. "Consumers" must reclaim their lives as citizens involved in real interactions and civic dialogue, and as human beings in their interactions with each other, not as rapacious CEO's and politicians. A step in the right direction by the building industry is outlined here.