Saturday, May 17, 2008


This morning, I have been browsing the internet, following links which led, this time, to a discussion of permaculture -- which is basically a way of living in the world with emphasis on sustainable agriculture. Permaculture, Peak Oil, Global Climate Destabilization, Over Population, Over Exploitation of the World's Resources, Deforestation, Pollution: there is a lot of concern out there about the world and its problems, a lot of predictions, a lot of speculation, but the underlying agreement seems to be that we cannot continue the way we are for much longer. Eventually, we will run out of fossil fuels. Eventually, climate change will force our hands. Eventually, we will reach the maximum population the world can sustain. Growth cannot go unchecked forever and a day. The disagreement centers around the questions 'how soon will we reach the tipping point,' 'how fast will change occur,' and 'how extreme will the change be'? All seem to agree that, eventually, human beings are going to have to adapt or die.

So, what does the adaptation look like? Does it look like dolphinesque cars powered by electricity, sleek, modern buildings with rooftop gardens, solar panels and windmills, and suburban lots converted to mini-farms, garages converted to businesses, and communities becoming even closer? Or does the future look like Mad Max with the strong preying on the weak and everyone struggling to survive? Probably both and neither.

There seems to be at least one wild card in every deck - the one thing no one saw coming: AIDS, the fall of the Soviet empire, the Americanization of China, 9/11. This time, too, I believe the unexpected will occur and will change everything, but how that will play out, I cannot begin to guess. I hate to say it, but maybe we need a Pearl Harbor to set things in motion before we reach free fall.

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