Thursday, 26 July 2012


 It is Man's intelligence that sets the species apart from the other animals and gives him power to change the environment, yet many of Man's actions are prompted by short-term desires, selfishness, superstition or emotion rather than clear-thinking and intelligence; sadly, this is greatly to the detriment of the planet.
 Our mega-cities are not compatible with a declining supply of petroleum. Transporting food and other materials from where they are produced into cities, and transporting wastes out, requires a lot of fuel. As the loss of petroleum makes our present form of mechanised agriculture less viable and as food prices rise due to shortages, more labour will be required to maximise food production; that labour is living in the wrong place at present. Modern cities and suburbs have been developed to suit the private car.
    The private car, as it is, is incompatible with declining petroleum supplies and the need to reduce greenhouse gas production; its use must be greatly reduced if societies are to become sustainable, but there is no indication of reduction as of now. Changing to electric vehicles of similar power to current petroleum-fuelled models will not much help, but going to much lower-powered and lighter vehicles might be viable.
We are travelling too quickly. The speeds that we travel at present in cars, aeroplanes, and probably even high-speed trains is unsustainable because we are approaching the end of oil and producing too much of several greenhouse gasses. Energy is about to become much more expensive, both in financial and environmental terms, and we are going to have to learn to use it more economically and rationally.
    The gap between rich and poor is widening. Even in the great democracies, the wealthy are gathering to themselves a steadily increasing share of political power (by controlling who gets into government and then controlling what those in power do – consider the lack of government action on climate change while the great majority of informed voters want action), leaving a declining amount of power to the less well-off. As in the past, a point will be reached at which those near the bottom of the heap will demand a more balanced spread of wealth and power.
Of critical importance is the fact that humanity has not reacted rationally and appropriately to these problems. In response to climate change governments are doing as little as possible and the great majority of individuals are not changing their lifestyles; governments refuse to see that growth cannot continue for ever and seem to not want to know about the declining petroleum supply. People live as if most of the above problems did not exist and we can continue to live the next fifty years with as little care for the environment as in the past fifty.
We have become reliant on a globally integrated economy. Given the above problems, this cannot continue.