Do we have a story crisis?
Earth is 4.5 billion years old and has approximately 500 million years left before the radiant heat (about 6 per cent greater than now) from the sun will increase Earths temperature in a way that Gaia will not be able to sustain the ecosystems. In the 1960´ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) asked the scientist James Lovelock to participate in a scientific research project aimed at trying to find evidence of life on Mars.
While working with the project set up design instruments capable of detecting the presence of life that could be sent on a spacecraft to Mars his hypothesis was that the Earth itself was a live organism. The ideas evolving during the years of science culminated in 1979 with the publication of the book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Gaia Hypothesis). In Greek Mythology, Gaia is the goddess of the Earth. Now human activity, particularly by the use of fossil fuel (carbon dioxide), caused unbalance of the Earth system and made the planet significantly warmer (last 100 year increased by 1º C). It does not sound much, however, the implications are enormous.
Lovelock theory ended with a thesis that Earth is a physical and chemical condition that is self-regulating; oceans and atmosphere regulate by life itself. Gaia evolves according to Darwinian laws of self-selection, a fine-tuned, interrelated to create conditions conducive to the life of the planet. Even if human life on Gaia is extinguished, the planet will self-regulate to maintain its own life, and possibly other forms of life within it. His view is the same as in early Buddhism whereof all life, including trees, plants; Mountain is a cherishing of diversity. This diversity is taken further into modern environmental philosophy as Arne Næss Deep Ecology is based upon Gandhian view and The philosopher Spinosa,
The long tradition of thinkers that uses a language that is poetic and simultaneously scientifically right and consider a holistic and wide view upon the complexity of systems rather than narrow and limited. If the planet’s natural homeostasis (equilibrium) is maintained, the planet will continue to survive as a whole. The most important balance and vital to all life is the relationship within the oxygen-carbon cycle. If any disruption of these areas may sustain perturbations so drastic that the planet will not survive. This is the case now, Gaia will surely go on, not civilization,
Speak the truth
So what is, in reality, the reason causing the problems? Looking at the different views and opinions in media, documentaries, and electronic news across a wide spectre of professions and Industries it strikes me how we create stories that we like to hear rather than the truth! Therefore, with the wrong diagnose, the cure will not work and Gaia will remain ill or even worse.
We have to get the right to diagnose before we can talk about a cure. In a series of writings trying to finding the main problem of global warming without being coloured by fears of what others might mean. Should the fear of losing my job because I might speak the opposite of what the economic goals of my employer or social structures might want or desire to hear? To be free means that we have the opportunity to speak freely without the consequences of being punished for our opinions. Starting the series with this in mind, I promise to be fearless in a constructive way, to give my subjective thoughts upon a very complex problem. I believe the only solution is to be as honest and speak the truth as much as there is any truth, at least we recognize untruth when we hear one. Let’s start with something we know!
We have an economic crisis and an ecological crisis the complexity of nature shows these similarities will sooner or later crash into each other. When the separation in nature started, resources need in one place will be missing in another. Everything is connected in time and space and when two problems bump into each other it cannot be controlled. The result is not linear, it will be of a nonlinear unpredictable! The chaos of incidences will not be like domino bricks that start in one place and ends in another, they can start from anywhere, however, progressive.
Growing numbers of people are beginning to realize that capitalism is the uncontrollable force driving our ecological crisis, only to become frozen in their tracks by the awesome implications of the insight. Our fear has a hold on us since childhood, always been told what not to do and what to do has created a limited mindset. Another and a very important factor is the fear of not being accepted into a tribe. One of the most important tribes that force us to make wrong decisions when we, in reality, want to do the right thing is the corporation. Since it provides a desireful life and security for our family and respect from those around us, it’s very hard to let go and speak really truly free as we are afraid to lose the comfortable life it provides.
The corporation, the most important institution and agent of modern capitalism, has become both huge and hugely powerful. Most Global Corporations seem to believe there is a matter of technical solutions to fix the global warming issue, hardly any of these institution presents solutions that are honest to the market, themselves or the consumers. They promise solutions without thinking in whole systems, cause, and effect.
In 1990 there were less than 32000 multinational corporations, however, because of globalization the numbers have more than double in less than 30 years. Today there are more than 64000 multinational corporations. Global Corporations have become far more powerful than most nations, NGO’s, environmental and international organizations, more than 50% of the largest 100 economies today are corporations, they move people, revenue-stream and adapt to local cultures and laws like chameleons beyond any one government’s control,
Regardless of nationality, borders or local laws most of these corporations use layers, PR companies, advertising, lobbying on members of Congress finding ways to manipulate the systems only to benefit economically for their shareholders and owners. They do not care about local culture, people, contractors or the ecological footprint they leave behind. As soon as the cost of production becomes slightly higher they move their business elsewhere. Short term corporate behaviour is a major problem over the last two decades and increasing.
The capitalistic business model basically means minimize cost in every part of the production and maximize sales profit in the consumer market through storytelling and mythmaking. It’s not human or environmentally friendly, it destroys everything beautiful ul and poisoning the minds of once honest workers with destructive values such as greed and selfishness. Basically turning good men into bad ones. The Corporation is probably the most destructive, selfish and resource demanding structures ever created. While it could be for the good of many, it has become very good for a handful of people that protect it with every possible action. Furthermore, the anatomy of corporations makes it difficult to address personal responsibility.
The people behind are as far away from the problems as you and me. For example, agricultural business in India alone makes 250.000 people commit suicide each year because of the harmful substances (pesticides, fertilizers) used by the multinational corporation in order to grow food, and cotton for textile industry more effective, so the shareholders get their ROI.
Otherwise, they place their investment elsewhere. Even as child-labour has become better since 2000, still large corporations use contractors to avoid conflict, nevertheless, one can ask questions about the transparency of businesses. For example, Zara or HM with more than 10.000 stores and collections that span over several thousands of products use many hundreds or thousands of different contractors. Some hidden in rural far away places nearly impossible to control if child labour is used (figures of child labour Good On You post Child labour in Fashion).
The biosphere and technological fix
Most corporation seems to believe there are a matter of technical solutions to fix the global warming issue, hardly any tells the truth even if they wanted. Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. Even so, every day corporations present solutions based upon technological fix, such as new materials that are less water extensive or with a less harmful ecological footprint, while the solution might be a reduction or even stop producing. Corporations believe that growth is still possible as soon as they have a technological solution that is less harmful they think can produce more without consequences.
With such a limited way of thinking one create more problems elsewhere and outside their little tiny world. For example, the fast fashion corporation H&M a few years back wrote in their conscious fashion report that they aimed to use 100% more sustainable fabrics before 2020 (now it´s moved to 2025) while at the same time has an aggressive growth strategy of 10-15% yearly.
Since the have approximately 4100 stores means they open around 400-450 (actual plan is 425) new store in 2017. The footprint of a retail store + the increased collection of units needed only for this operation alone makes the savings by using more sustainable materials a joke. The Ecological footprint of the stores opening alone increases their footprint x2 factor. Just the water footprint of cotton regardless use of organic or conventional is approximately 20.000 litres per kilogram of cotton. One kilogram of cotton = 7 T-Shirts regular quality. H&M average turn-over per store more than one million USD a year. That´s a lot of tees. The saves have no effect.
H&M is not caring about the environment, their spending on green PR and advertising does not relate to the number of green products they have in their collection, after visiting 3 stores I had difficulty finding products in store and the staff was not aware or could help me out. H&M is not alone in the fashion industry regarding greenwashing, but they promote sustainability heavily.
It is a strategy they use to move focus away from an environmentally harmful Fast Fashion Strategy that many consumers are aware are making a negative impact on the fragile environment in some of the poorest countries in Asia and elsewhere. What irritates is the untruthful way of doing business. It would be far better, to tell the truth, so the consumers could make up their minds to buy or not if they know the cost and impact their purchase has on the environment. Why not be at least honest about it?
I believe most leaders want to do the right thing. Nevertheless, they fear the consequences and rather turn the blind eye to the facts that their decisions in many ways will harm future generations. They continue doing business that is the opposite of natural laws. Corporations are powerful, not only economic but create human conditions forcing workers to tell stories that the corporations want to hear. This is not right.
The stories we choose for the future is essentials for all life on the planet. The biosphere is not infinite. As Edward Wilson observes, ‘the biosphere, all organisms combined, makes up only one part in ten billion of the earth’s mass. It is sparsely distributed through a kilometre-thick layer of soil, water and air stretched over a half billion square kilometres of the surface. The capacity of nature to meet human needs depends on both its internal dynamics and its dynamic responses to human stresses. Below some figures on corporations and the global economy vs. environment.
The silent voice
Right now, inside me, it feels like something is somehow dying. I think if each and every one of us stopped we might feel empty and afraid. Instead of listening to the silent voice inside each and one of us, this voice is our compass what makes us who we are, what makes us human. Instead, we speed up and move in artificial landscape’s, up and down elevators, metros, and trains breathe in air-conditional as we fly across the landscape, seas and building an infrastructure of roads, lights, bridges, tunnels, and industrialization of nature.
We tend to believe business as usual, in reality, is far from the truth. We are no more certain of the truth than anyone is. But we often know an untruth when we hear one. Many untruths are deliberate, understood as such by both speaker and listeners. They are put forth to manipulate, lull, or entice, to postpone action, to justify self-serving action, to gain or preserve power, or to deny an uncomfortable reality.
The story is forgotten as the creation of living in a dream for some becomes a nightmare for others and future generations suicide. People have forgotten the basics, the natural laws of dancing, being naked and we are becoming strangers to each other and nature. We are living life as non-existent, erasing memories in the productivity race grasping and forgetting that we are all part of the same family, share the same DNA. We do not need to feel alone.
Next post in the series of “Do we have a story crisis?” will discuss why monetary measurement of wealth in the society is wrong. The third post will discuss alternatives to monetary measurements of human well-being such as Gross National Happiness and the transformation towards a less materialistic driven economy and how we can be able to feel better with less.
Finally, the last post will discuss our personal responsibility to speak the truth and actively act upon the truth and ways to do so with measurable effects. In a case of worst case scenario, what kind of strategy and tactics can be used to get the story right? Read Part two Do we have a story crisis The monetary issues
Some facts on Global Corporation Economy Vs. Environment
- Re-thinking sustainability for the twenty-first century, spirituality the missing link buddhajeans.com by Kenneth L
- GNH Gross National Happiness Eco Fashion Dictionary buddhajeans.com Kenneth L
- The Future of Sustainability, Editor Marco Keiner Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zürich. Published 2006 by Springer
- Encyclopedia of Global Justice editor in chief Deen K. Chatterjee. Published 2011 by Springer
- Limits to Growth. The 30 Year update. by Meadows DH, Randers J and Meadows DL Published 2004 by Chelsea Green Publishing
- The Vanishing Face of Gaia A Final Warning by James Lovelock published 2009 by Perseus Books Group
- New Corporation 2020: transforming business for tomorrow’s world by Pavan Sukhdev. Published 2012 by Island Press
- One World by Peter Singer published 2002 by Yale University Press
- Capitalism at the Crossroads by Stuart L. Hart published 2007 by Warton School Publishing
- Red Sky at Morning by James Gustave Speth published 2005 by Yale University Press
- The Bridge at the Edge of the World by James Gustave Speth published 2008 by Caravan book.
- One Nineveh by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future Published by Island Press 2004
- A Guide to the End of the World everything you never wanted to know by Bill McGuire published by Oxford University
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