«Un uomo è ricco in proporzione del numero di cose delle quali può fare a meno»
Henry David Thoreau, Walden, ovvero vita nei boschi

lunedì 19 marzo 2012

Happy Degrowth and Human Revolution - Foreword - part 1/30

We begin with the publication of the essay Happy Degrowth and Human Revolution divided in several parts. The translation is by Eleonora Matarrese.

The first part is:


«You see things and say, "Why?". But I dream things that never existed and I ask to myself, 'Why not?"»
G.B. Shaw

Needless to say that today we are faced with epochal challenges that could change the destiny of humanity forever. We are facing crucial choices. We have responsibility and duty to choose the way we feel wiser and correct, as long as these words have meaning for us. We are in a critical moment, it is evident to everyone. The recent global economic crisis is a wake-up call and we should catch this precious signal immediately. The environmental, social, political and economic crisis are all in harmony with one another, it is not by accident. All areas of our lives are touched. All this is pointing to one direction, the direction of change.

If we do not change, if we continue our lives this way, the crisis will become more acute and alarming, painful for a growing number of people, up to be tragedy. We already know this process, being the one previous to all wars, but now it has a global scale and it may be irreversible.

We are literally destroying our planet, we are killing it, we are going to perturb the natural balance, modifying the harmony between countless factors that have taken millions of years to reach it. We are contaminating seas and oceans, we are burning oil and gas night and day, everywhere we extract minerals, deforest, create pesticides and chemical products that poison us, produce radioactive waste with eternal and devastating power. We have no respect for animals, plants, people, water resources. We produce, produce and produce. Consume, consume and consume. We create huge amounts of waste, waste on waste. Mountains of waste. We throw away as waste tones of surplus food and at the same time millions of people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. We waste water excessively, three showers a day, a washing machine every two, a car washing every week, at the same time millions of people are forced to drink sewage water and suffer the damaging effects. We waste energy without restraint, we use the car each day, a private car every two people at least. We eagerly desire to collect objects: closets overflowing with clothes, we do not ever put some and we throw as a junk, dozens and dozens of shoes, we change phone every year, computer every three. We eat twice or three times of our needs, the thin ones in the North are in reality all overweight. At the supermarket hundred of colorful and overload shelves, ninety kinds of yogurt, twenty of milks, thirty types of toothpaste, forty of detergent. We ourselves are overflowing. Advertising bombards us constantly, we do say that we are not listening at all because we are used to it. Actually we execute what advertising orders us correctly and we consume, consume, with no limits. Because that's the progress, and progress has no limits. We hear it on the TV, which, as we know, is never wrong. Work, work, work, consume, consume, consume, waste, waste, waste: waste and pollution, waste and pollution. Forever.

We realize that our economic system is a huge industry, his basic functioning is simple: the leading role is hold by advertising which creates (or better, invents) our needs, we work to death to satisfy them and make everything not to be left behind, because those who lag get out of the game and become a wreck of this society, almost like the plastic bags you throw in the trash. The system creates needs, creates jobs and consumers who consume and create waste and pollution which, in turn, create more employment and other needs. So in the end the system produces waste and pollution to allow you to work and meet your sham needs, accepting in return the environmental damage that sooner or later also falls on your insignificant existence of loyal consumer.

Admittedly, it seems that there is something wrong in such a system. But after seeing your new plasma TV, your impressive new SUV and your handheld phone, then you think that it was worth it and you feel happy for it.

The world system today is a furious train that is traveling unrestrained straight towards a wall. We are first-class travelers and although we are comfortably sitting in the head of the train and seeing the physical limit just in front of us, we believe we can continue to travel at the same speed, without using brakes, and above all without changing the track. How can we manage to avoid the wall to where we are heading?? Is that possible??

In "Beyond the Limits of Development" of 1993, the authors provide three alternative models of choice for our future. The first two models lead to the collapse of the entire system, while the third would be the only way to avoid disasters and address the issues in a constructive way:
«A third model states that the limits are real and close, that there is exactly the time it needs but there is no time to lose. There are exactly enough energy, materials, money and elasticity of the environment and of the human virtue to complete the revolution towards a better world.
This model could be wrong. But all the evidence we have considered, from the world data to the global computer models indicate that it might be correct. There is no way to make it sure, than putting it into practice».

Change is inevitable if we want to survive for many decades on this planet in a peaceful and serene way. This text is intended to take in analysis the change to be implemented and to propose the way to go to achieve it.

We already know that the skeptics will be many but we also know that many people do not feel comfortable in this degenerated system. We want to start from this people. Change is always possible, since we decide it.

Thank you indeed.

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