Can We Change to Survive?

Jared Diamond in Collapse describes the fate of the Norse in Greenland: faced with renouncing the identity and behaviors that had sustained them far from their home culture, or changing to the same sort of hard life that kept alive (many of) the Inuit immigrants, they chose death.

We face the same problem today. We in the rich world mostly overconsume, though it doesn’t totally please. We advocate policies because other people like us advocate the same policies, and this helps us know who we are. One of the points of the previous post on legislators, NAS, and nuclear power is that many of us will not change (or change slowly) our core beliefs as to who we are no matter what it means to the Earth, reluctant to give up beliefs that have assured us for so many years about what kind of people we are.

The creationists have their own struggle. They too have invested much energy in attacking scientists, they too have helped create a society that will have trouble finding its way to solutions.

One Response to “Can We Change to Survive?”

  1. Jared Diamond spends many pages of discussion and examples on this question. Over the millenia of human existence only a few, tiny societies figured out the right combination.

    Our particular society is keyed to the market economy, which is not a sustainable pattern. Too often what looks like a good environmental solution involves a terrible solution for someone else. In the current case of the United States and other peoples of the world. The US enforces clean air and clean water laws. But we buy billions from China which doesn’t. Its enviroment gets trashed while, for the time being, ours does not.

    Of course, someone will say, “If I let it be, the next person here won’t. So I shall do it now.” My front yard has a grove of 9 cedar trees. How long will they remain enjoying their own life.

    There are too many variables to make clear and careful decisions. Even with Jared Diamond’s excellent book and good guidance, the odds are that our society will fail to implement needed solutions thus will collapse.