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New version of book intro: current situation
The current situation
History, the stories of engaged human projects, is never complete. We like to think the world is a fairly stable place but actually everything is in motion and the world is more like political and economic and social and cultural tectonic plates than like a well ordered set of Lego blocks. There has never been a generation of humans without a crisis.
We later civilizations, we too know that we are vulnerable -
- Pau Valery 1898
Our own consumerized generations are stuck in the present, which is very dangerous because the situation requires serious responses. We are a species among species spread upon this small ball of earth. We should be taking care of the whole. The most remote person is a companion to us and all the species fellow travelers. Climate news is not good. People are on the move, either on foot or in their imagination. They want to know where next and where then in this still vast world. Feynman guides us towardva future with responsibility.
We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on. — Richard Feynman
We cannot stay at the current level of consumption nor can we shift to a different kind of economy at the same scale. We are too complicated, and that complication requires an increasing amount of fossil fule to function.We are really up against it and need more imagination and more courage. Gardenworld is not just a minor holding platform we land on for a while till we can return to what we had. It aims at a new way of life. Doing with less can be attractive. It is not clear we can get there. We might fail materially, because extraction of resources from the earth to make a new world is expensive and destructive, and some essential metals are fully mined already, Or government will fail us in transition because bureaucracies are so poorly arranged, for example in silos that can only deal with a small set of issues at a time. Gardenworld is not a complete solution. It has many gaps, but it is an invitation to help think through exploring its possibilities. How we might emerge after a chaotic time. Chaos is coming because we must cut CO2 by about ten percent per year even to meet the modest Paris or IPCC goals. That means stopping actual activities and no leader wants to be the first to say which ones.
But worse, the future most people hope for: a replacement of the current flow of fossil fuel energy with a non fissile fuel system of clean energy is not possible because of limits of material availability needed to manufacture the technologies for a new electrical non fossil regime. Gardenworld is an effort to imagine what is the best in difficult circumstances.
There’s no shortage of essays and articles, book after book, symposium daily, the same thing. Increasing urgency but no action. Why? Seems to me very simple. There is no worked out script on what to do. There have to be cuts in fossil fuel use but the cuts that would be sufficient are also needing to undo parts of society. We are stuck because sufficient plans would require specifying losses - in business, in income …and… lives. No leader wants to go into that territory.. so we get plea after plea ..”we must act”… but no plan of action.. the pleas are empty.. so we default to waiting for “opportunities” .
All new economic activity creates relationships and the parties to those relationships want them to succeed, But those relations, creating links among people and institutions - become, by being held on to, part of the glue holding the existing society together and that , all together, make change difficult.
My current conclusion goes like this: If we stopped all co2 and methane production now, temperature would continue to rise. Hence, besides stopping co2, sequestration is essential to any solution. Mechanical solutions won’t work (total weight of co2 currently in the atmosphere is about equivalent to the weight of all the vehicles in the world). That leaves planting everywhere everything we can as rapidly as possible (hard with weather turbulence so high) and landowners with police backing working hard to hold on to current land use.
Our situation may be terminal, but just maybe. Having some conviction about some possibilities makes it easier to make the decisions we have to take. Gardenworld is not a nostalgia trip but a survival strategy. One among I hope many, to be questioned and in some cases acted on.We are an amazing species in an awesome world. Gardenworld is more than improvised farming - it implies a holistic approach and the creation of a new culture. integrating where we live with where we garden We need to rethink our commitment to the earth and all that lives. Gardenworld is an effort in that direction.We are uncomfortably in a mess of climate, soil, oceans, population, and almost everything else. And we have been passive about it because we have not been able to imagine a viable much less attractive vision of an alternative. Many of us live in a room or rooms, with bedroom paintings or posters on the walls, curtains, a table for eating, sheets on the bed - you know the story. In this world it is possible to listen to music, watch movies and sports, and be comfortable with a spouse. It is even a good place to write, to make art, to play music on instruments rather than with buttons. It is actually a failure of consumerism that we have lost all hand-eye coordination projects and don’t use our living space for productive projects. So much of the world, including in our own countries, many people cannot live this way. . Their income cannot pay the rent or what can be is too crowded and noisy, nor buy the food. Gardenworld, a survival strategy under climate change, will shake up this world. If we work at it we can make the emerging Gardenworld more attractive, wth different accented values, for both groups.
Gardenworld is a vision of the whole and thus contrasts with attempts one issue at at a time that make other issues worse. We have to get used to the idea that much of the affluence we have left is going to rapidly disappear. And I suggest that each of us should embrace a simple attractive life based on relationships and gardens.