50: The Sustainability of Civilisation

It’s time to add meat to the bone of the worldview sketched-out in The Jolly Pilgrim.

Thanks to all those who commented on that optimistic worldview. Bar these counterarguments, the central critique seems to be that – even though we live during the most enlightened and open-minded, least violent, least diseased, best fed, wealthiest, coolest, most exciting epoch the world has ever seen – it won’t count for much if Earth’s ecosphere goes into meltdown.

That’s a good point. Thanks to those who’ve made it.

In my view, environmental sustainability is the central long-term issue human civilisation faces. It will likely remain so when the crop of political and economic problems which currently dominate the news media have faded to historical footnotes.


The Jolly Pilgrim Angle

Constructive dialog about long-term sustainability is hampered by the idea that economic growth automatically equates to greater negative environmental side effects. This is a misconception.

The growth-sustainability misconception arises due to a failure to differentiate between things which are socially constructed (like money) and things which are physically real (like energy), and from the assumption that the entirety of the human adventure will predictably mirror recent history.

In fact, there is no underlying reason why civilisation cannot be made environmentally sustainable, while also continuing to have a growing economy and getting generally funkier.

My thoughts on this matter, for which this post is an introduction, are at the following link:

Sustainability and economic growth are not mutually exclusive

Comments are enabled. Do chip in.


The Ecosphere and Civilisation

The above is expanding on my view that:

  • humanity is an ecological phenomenon;
  • this ecosphere was always, sooner or later, going to give rise to a tool-using, civilisation-building species;
  • the environmental problems we face are thus an historically inevitable bottleneck;
  • the whole process is organic, Gaiaistic, rather wonderful and best embraced.

The sustainability-growth article is an expansion of page 277, paragraph 6, of the book. I’ve therefore added the relevant subchapter (a full version of the text abridged by The Ecologist, Gaiain Foundation, Treehugger and others) to the website: HERE.

I’ll publish more expansions when I get time to arrange and edit the material. They will be:

  1. How the transition towards a sustainable civilisation is underway
  2. A pan-human strategy for long-term environmental sustainability
  3. Human civilisation as an emergent characteristic of Earth’s ecosphere

If this new material does not appear directly on the website, links to it will.


Pete Baker

Keep an eye on the long term while you are dancing in the flames – Sir Philip Hampton


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One Response to “50: The Sustainability of Civilisation”

  1. Mark Snare Says:

    Does this mean I should hold back on the MCA MHHB to avoid speeding up any inbound apocalypse

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