Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Are we really plundering the planet?

Its 3 in the morning. What a time to explore an epiphany. Here goes...

The answer to the question is well obviously...yes. It's not only oil that's getting harder to extract but now scarcity of rare earth metals is threatening to make our mobile phones and laptops more pricey. Bad news for green bloggers and twitterers everywhere.

But hang on. The answer to the question is also... no... based on an objection to the word 'plunder'. It bears closer scrutiny if we are to properly move on the issues in this peak everything world and by this to put into context the scale of the big ask... which is to stop 'plundering'.

The green movement like many, adopts emotive language as the best way by far to persuade lots of people to listen to a given message. Often fear is the emotion of choice and 'plundering' in this context, suggests reckless endangerment of the planet's resources in order selfishly serve the development of the human race. This against the need for the planet and its myriad other communities of creatures and organisms to continue to exist and develop in their own right albeit side by side with humans. Trouble is emotive forms can backfire as seen in the dubbed "vile eco-terrorism" of the government-backed bedtime story advert on climate change, which had the paralytic effect on some of its watchers of 'whats-the-point-in-doing-anything-if-its-going-to-happen-anyway' Or worse this reaction by a certain Barking Spider

It was after listening to Melvyn Bragg last week on radio 4 - about the Minoans - that got me thinking. The Minoans were a Bronze Age people. We had Stone Age people, we also had Iron Age people. Later there was the age of steam then the age of silicon and here we are: big-boobed and laptopped.

The point is that taking stuff is hardwired into what we are. It is what we have always done. We name our ages after minerals! (mental note, not sure that stone is a mineral) It is as useless to tell us to stop using the earth's resources as it is to train a gorilla to stop using grass stalks to get at an ant colony. No way. Not going to happen. Humans are constructors. They 'make' their ideas real through using all available resources and will continue to do so else risk being less than human.

So what's to be done?

Well there are other resources that can be 'plundered', or exploited, used, mined, utilized... Not so much earth, now, but certainly fire (the sun), air (wind power)and water. But there is one other. We have created the biggest resource of them all. Thousands of years of human development has got us to the stage when we have refined our individual and collective endeavours such that we now have another resource. Knowledge. Unlike our earth's resources, it is infinitely expandable in the sense that the more we use it the greater is its store. Moreover, we have used our knowledge to develop immediate means by which we can share it and 'know' it. Our Knowledge is evolving to understand itself and the impact of our existence and co-existence and further... it is a fully mineable thing-in-itself: a phenomenon.

Interestingly, we have to continue to plunder our mine of Knowledge in order to stop the plunder. This mining process means that we need to get even more creative; more visionary and develop further our intellectual imaginations and cognitive sensibilities. This is not the time to curb the activity of the human race. In one sense it is the time to accelerate it.

I'm trying to find the right nomenclature that sums it up but nothing scans (still too early in the morning and need to go to bed. Am posting anyway in the certain Knowledge I'll be rewriting it later).

The Age of... any (constructive) ideas?