It's a good question with several undertones. To maintain global stability and to assist in bringing political justice to other countries, it is in our best interest to participate in bringing social and economic justice to less developed countries.Â Moreover, the presence of poverty in developing countries also often degrades the environment.Â Isn't it, therefore, pragmatic, as well as moral, to encourage developing countries to have what we have, provided they work hard to get it as we in the Western world think we have done?Â Lurking underneath these thoughts of the developing world getting more is the fear that perhaps we'll have to give something up to maintain the environment at its current, already unhealthy, level.Â Understandably, we don't want to shrink the life we have worked so hard to obtain.
Underlying this maelstrom of thought is the reality that maiming the environment as we have been doing while raising our standard of living is no reason or excuse for continuing to degrade the environment.Â As we maim the environment, we maim and cripple human physical, mental, and spiritual development in the future.Â As each person on the planet gets more, we approach the Tragedy of the Commons, recently covered in an article by Gather member Bert Bigelow.Â To continue living in the mode of recent times appears to be suicide for the life of the planet.
How do we get out of this bind?Â As Albert Einstein is reputed to have said, "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."Â To meet planetary needs we need to let go of the old and discover the new.Â We need new thinking and new approaches to today's global problems, and environmental concerns.Â I'm not an expert in this area, but it seems to me that we include the following approaches as we tackle the significant problems the planet faces:
- Use a systems method to identify and consider all known areas affected by both the problem and the potential solutions.Â This would encourage holistic, system-wide solutions and help identify potential problems with proposed solutions before they occur.
- Look at short- and long-term effects of proposed solutions.
- Provide long-term incentives for developing and using new technologies to stimulate investment and improvement.Â Incentives, however, should taper off and end at some point to avoid vested interests and stagnation of improvement.Â Â
- Develop multiple and diverse technologies for important areas, such as energy production, to avoid vested interests and economic meltdowns if the sole technology is found to have serious drawbacks.Â
- Set up and support infrastructure to support new, less destructive technologies.
- Monitor social and health effects of new technologies and new products to catch problems early, ensure public safety, and minimize costs related to the problems.
- Provide a safety net and opportunities for workers and businesses displaced by new technologies to avoid their resistance to improvement.
- To develop self-awareness and maturity, encourage transparency, ethics and self-regulation.Â
- To minimize environmental degradation, especially in developing areas, bypass old technologies and products in favor of newer, less destructive means.Â Doing this would also be a disincentive to construct infrastructure that would soon be outdated. The newer technologies should be vetted for short- and long-term safety and effectiveness and be phased out if it's found they are unsafe for humans and nature.
- Develop safe nanotechnologies to cut use of resources and reduce pollution.
What do we say to developing countries?Â What do we say to ourselves?Â It's not just what we want and think we need, it's also how we get it.Â Giving up something may primarily involve giving up old mindsets and in the process gaining a better life that is more aware and more connected to nature and to each other.Â Do we have the courage to let go of the old ways of doing things to explore, to create and to discover new ways?Â