by Godofredo Aravena
I live in Chile, a very nice country, with a reasonable standard of living (equivalent to about $15,000 per capita per year). The country is rich in natural resources and potential renewable energy and is characterized by abundance and a good climate (so far). Can I ask for more? I do not envy anybody in other parts of the world.
A few years ago I became worried about peak oil, climate change, and in general about the human footprint in the world. I was concerned about garbage (plastics mainly), and the results of consumption in general. I have tried to pay attention to my footprint in this world, thinking about my children, and their children, and so on.
But, what can we do as country, in my country, about these global problems? The scale of the problem is so enormous, in relation to our part in the problem (origin and current contribution), that despair fills me.
We can keep on living as today, and it will not make any difference. The same notion applies for many other countries around the world.
I have prepared a table (Table 1 embedded below), that includes about 60% of current population in the world, and about 80% of oil consumption, to provide some reference numbers about the situation. Most of the figures are taken from Wikipedia.
In Chile, we are less than 0.5% of the problem. Our whole country has no significance at all. The more we add countries to the table, the less significant we become.
We generate less carbon dioxide than the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. We have fewer cars than that city.
If we consider per capita responsibility, we are still below average. As can be seen, even if we all die in Chile, there´s no significant impact in the world´s trends.
So my conclusion is that a large part of this world, including a big part of Latin
American countries (leaving out Mexico and Brazil), and most of the African countries, and some from Asia, have virtually nothing to do with the problem. We have contributed little to development of the problems in the past, and will contribute little to the problem in the future. Similarly, we have little potential to contribute to a solution.
Countries bigger or richer than Chile must change their way of living, or reduce population, or both. We have to sit and just watch. No matter what we do, it will have no measurable impact. But still we do something, and we will keep on doing something, even though I can clearly see that it will be absolutely useless.
My point is, whatever is to be done, has to be done by China, India, Russia, Japan, United States and Europe. Taking a generous view, we can add Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Saudi Arabia to the bunch.
Looking back, it is clear that atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the consumption of fossil fuels stem from economically developed countries in pursuit of a high standard of living for their people. There is little or no concern for the rest of the world and the future.
Using the same logic, we can hardly blame China and India today for their part in the today’s situation. The industrial revolution began in 1850, and India and China became important in the world’s industrial economy no more than 20 years ago with respect to oil consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
My final conclusion is that this problem has no solution beyond the collapse of the industrial economy in the United States and Europe. China and India will stop growing without consumers from the United States and Europe. The internal growth of these two countries will take a long time to reach a size problematic to the rest of the world in the absence of the United States and Europe.
Godofredo Aravena is a 52-year-old ship designer who spent 15 years working in the most important shipyard in Chile to become head of the Naval Architecture Section. He worked nine years as an independent naval architect, with a small office in Concepción, Chile. He and his wife have two daughters and a granddaughter.
Somewhere in New Mexico Before the End of Time: a review by Kevin Moore
To quote Robert Newman, British social commentator and comedian: where do you begin? For Robert Newman, 1609 was a good place to begin because that was when the Sea Venture sailed westward across the Atlantic with a cargo of “troublemakers” to repopulate the failing colony at Jamestown. Four hundred years later Mike Sosebee made a film which documents some of the destruction that Industrial Civilisation has wreaked upon the Earth, to a large extent as a consequence of the “success” of Jamestown, and the subsequent colonisation and industrialisation of the land mass that eventually came to be known as the United States.
Somewhere in New Mexico Before the End of Time tells two narratives at once; one narrative portrays some of the insanity of Industrial Civilisation and the culture of empire and consumerism which are in the process of rendering the Earth largely, or perhaps completely, uninhabitable for humans and other large mammals in a matter of a few decades as a consequence of escalating pollution and conversion of the natural world into stuff; the other narrative depicts the efforts of emeritus professor Guy McPherson to challenge the culture of empire and consumerism, and lead by example towards more sustainable ways of living.
In this film, Mike focuses attention on a man who was so disgusted by what he saw Industrial Civilisation doing to the living planet, and could no longer be a part of it, he quit his secure and well-paid employment “at the pinnacle of empire” to attempt to live a more normal way of life. The decision to leave the pinnacle of empire is described as “walking away from empire” and “going back to the land.” (Guy admitted that prior to locating to the thermally efficient straw bale house, referred to as “the mud hut,” his practical skills were severely limited; why would a successful university professor need to know how to use a screwdriver or a hammer? Why would a professor need to know how to grow vegetables, to keep bees or to milk a goat?)
The response of the viewer will undoubtedly depend on the previous exposure to the concept of real sustainability and their knowledge of how the Earth works as a complex physical-chemical-biological system; those with little knowledge or understanding may well dismiss Guy’s efforts to bring the crucial issues of our times to the fore as misguided silliness; those who have known Guy for many years and have taken an interest in the progression of western society “towards, and eventually off the cliff” are treated to behind-the-scenes revelations that demonstrate the determination of those in power to drive us all “off the cliff,” and know that to take a stand against looting and polluting incurs high personal costs.
No intelligent, caring, connected person can view this film without being deeply moved, and probably deeply saddened that the real heroes in western societies are largely ignored.
And I am certain that very soon a large number of people who are presently caught in the web of deceit that Industrial Empire spins are going to discover that they too will need to know how to grow vegetables, or keep bees or milk a goat.
Somewhere in New Mexico Before the End of Time may be the eye-opener that points them in the right direction.
Thank you Mike and all those who supported you.