Jul 122013

By Kim Stanley Robinson, award-winning science fiction writer and author of chapter 34: “Is It Too Late?” in State of the World 2013.

Recently, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels passed the 400 parts per million milestone. This might be the perfect time to ask ourselves a difficult question about our present situation on Earth: Is it too late?

Has humanity already run off the cliff without noticing it – just like the lovable but foolhardy cartoon character Wile E. Coyote? Have we overshot the carrying capacity of the Earth so badly that we are doomed to a horrible crash, after oil, or fresh water, or topsoil, or fish, or many other things – after one or all of them become scarce? So that no matter what we do in the meantime, it’s a foregone conclusion that we’re in for a fall?

Read more of this Sacramento Bee op-ed by Robinson here: Is it too late? The long view offers reason to hope

  4 Responses to “Is It Too Late?”

  1. Never mind how late it might be for humanity to save itself (and the Earth) in a reasonably recognizable shape–for humanity to become truly ecologically and socially sustainable could, maybe, prevent “the crash”, or, if not that, it would mitigate the effects of this crash optimally, in my opinion.
    The problem is that there are too many ideas of what “sustainable” might be, and too many opinions of how to achieve “sustainability”. With so many different ideas on what sustainable and sustainability is, all the differences among all those ideas get sorted out in real life causing real damage to the Earth and the other life-forms, and causing waste of time (we don’t have any time to lose, really), of resources, and (not infrequently) of lives.
    In order to avoid all this damage and waste in trying to become sustainable, we have to first unify and harmonize all of these various opinions on what “sustainability” ought to be, so that there is as clearly defined goal as possible–a goal (a vision/model, if you will) that would be discussable and amendable by everyone who has an interest in humanity’s (and Earth’s) satisfactory survival. Everyone should have an access to deciding what this goal should be, because anyone excluded from this process would cause problems with their eventual discontent.
    The importance of a commonly held vision/goal is paramount! It is much easier to achieve something that we know what it is, than trying to achieve something that we do not know what it might really be, as the case is now, when there is much ado about saving the planet with really no results to be forthcoming ever, as the environmental and social degradation is progressing almost exponentially.
    To “unify and harmonize” all our various opinions on what “sustainable” ought to be has to be done by any expedient means–I offer a possible way in “Universal Platform for Developing Sustainable Earth Vision/Model Cooperatively” at
    http://www.modelearth.org/seed.html .
    Thank you, Mr. Jan Hearthstone.

  2. A place where the possibility is alive:


    …a growing sustainable town, modeling infrastructures, social systems, and practices to change the world.

    Check it out!

  3. Just finished reading Marc Gunther’s blog post on this topic.

    Consumerist culture is killing us — and we’re importing it by the second. But all over the world, other cultures have developed wonderful ways for people to live just fine with less stuff. I launched a website recently devoted to cross-fertilizing the best practices from around the world for preventing waste. Two examples of posts contributed by our global community of ardent Waste haters :


    I invite everyone to come visit, comment and share their own stories and ideas for preventing waste (rather than simply “managing waste”, by the way).

    I look forward to reading Erik’s book, and seeking him out for more productive conversation and collaboration.

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