Talk:Creating a Learning Society: What have Organisational Psychologists to Offer?
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"Wackernagel and Rees (1996), among others, have shown that it would require five back up planets engaged in nothing but agriculture for everyone alive today to live as we do in the West. It cannot be done. There can, therefore, be little doubt that, to live in a sustainable way, we would need a society which would be as different from ours as agricultural society was from hunter gatherer society (see Raven, 1995 for more detail). But, just as no one in a hunter-gatherer society could envisage what an agricultural society would look like, so no one in our society can realistically envisage what a sustainable society will look like. There can be no blueprint."
I have not read Wackernagel and Rees but I presume that the 5 backup planet figure is derived from all cultures copying our current behaviours. In other words using Carbon based fuel and energy, throwing waste into landfill, inefficient buildings and industries, etc. I have seen large, complex, silo based organisations change beyond recognition in under 3 years and after the 3 years to be powering ahead with a mechanism and capacity to determine and make further changes at a far faster rate going forward.
One of the sources of fatalism in this issue is the myth that we would need to give up our current lifestyles in order to progress to sustainability. This myth has been manufactured and maintained by those that profit from it. For example permanent magnetic power can create enough energy to power our homes, vehicles and industries, with no other energy sources required. There are many examples on the internet of home-made permanent magnetic generators costing under 15 dollars in materials being used to power perpetual motion machines.
The fact is we can become sustainable while increasing freedoms such as mobility, career choice, communication, access to entertainment and information.
Change can and does happen very quickly. There are not too many people on this planet, (although we are above the optimum) as it is perfectly possible for the Earth to support up to 9 billion people if we tread lightly. Besides, research has shown that birth rates fall radically when women are given economic and hereditory power and opportunity. And we definitely do not require 5 backup planets.
I think you would find the Ecological Footprint caculations more sophisticated than you think. But, yes, you are right. They do not say anything about the effects of change ... which is exactly what I am trying to induce. They say only that it would require 5 back up planets engaged in nothing but agriculture (which includes things like reprocessing our pollutants) for everyone alive today to live as we live.
As to technological rfixes, my personal view is that there are so many inter-related problems (which I have reviewed in Part I of my New Wealth of Nations) that I find it hard to believe that fixing any small number of them individually will come near to fixing the problem. The probelms include those associated with the international banking community, the so-called defence systems, and the production of endless senseless products which in reality perform a primarily sociological function. Yes. You are right. We could radically change the way we live ... starting here, not in China or India ... But the most fundamental problem is, not to bring about the necessary change in anything approaching the available time scale (though that is serious enough). It is to change the way we run our society, so that we run it in something like the long term public interest ... so that we can offer most people on this planet the opportunity to live long, high quality, lives. (And quality of life does not depend on material possessions.) This is the issue I would like to focus on here ... ie precisly not disputing one or other of the indices of the state we are in. As I see it, the fact that we, as a species, are in a very perilous positon seems to me beyond dispute.
Quester67 08:55, 10 March 2008 (PDT)
there can be no blue print?
I have no doubt that the ecological footprint calculations are correct, just that they are based on current behaviours not future ones. If we change our energy source away from hydro-carbon, and invest heavily in product design to be recycle-friendly, and match that with waste processing technology, change our diets to be more local, organic, less energy intensive (eg. less beef), it matters not what the international banking industry does. They only become a problem if they inhibit us from making those changes (as they have been doing to date).
Having seen (and been a part of) complex change processes, I am less pessimistic that they can happen. The banking industry knows a change is coming and some will even welcome it. When true change happens it will not be a solution to the problems caused by our current models of democracy and capitalism, it will render these problems irrelevant having moved us into a new paradigm.
While the notion of a learning society is paramount, I also think that we are able to determine parts of the blueprint now, or at least to do so at a high level. Like our current society the learning society will also be based on assumptions and myths, just better ones. Hopefully we will be more aware of those myths and able to adapt or dispense with them should they become burdensome, however that is not to say they won't be there and they won't serve a very useful purpose.
We can, and in my view should, start to build that blueprint as best we are able to.