What on earth is going to happen in the next 50 years? What will life be like for our elderly children and our middle-aged grandchildren? Will we have left anything for them other than a huge mess? Do we have time to reverse the malignant trends in human behavior? It appears that poor planet earth is now so highly stressed that it is unable to support the intense demands of its huge and growing human population.
To some, this is a population problem. To others it is an energy problem, an environmental problem, an economic problem, a governmental problem, a social and cultural problem, or a problem of war and violence, or disease, or spiritual poverty. To quote Lester Brown, former president of the Worldwatch Institute: "30 years ago we were worried about shrinking forests, expanding deserts, eroding soils, and disappearing species. Now the list of concerns is far longer including climate change, falling water tables, and ozone depletion." And, we must add: oil depletion, widespread politically-sponsored terrorism, AIDS and other new diseases, and mushrooming poverty and hunger.
Few deny that we sit on the edge of rapid change, yet there is little agreement and certainly no clear vision of what to do. We've compiled some Earth Indicators that we think are particularly telling. As citizens of the world's only remaining superpower, we are particularly distressed by the aggressively greedy, chauvinistic, and short-sighted role being played by the United States. We hope that the wake-up calls sent to us by 9/11, Hurrican Katrina, and the Iraq situation will some day be heeded by our political leaders, who during the Bush administration seem to be off in la-la land and out of touch with reality.
As we've spent time in other countries and on the road, our perspective has altered. We hope the links on this "What On Earth...?" web page produce ideas that are useful and interesting to readers. There are a huge number of internet resources and books that focus on global problems--and some successes--assuredly reflecting an immense upwelling of human concern and expenditure of effort related to our predicament, and a shift in thinking in the minds of many people. We don't always agree with them, but we try to remember to keep our hands on our knees, and stop them jerking.
We worry about our own inertia and have learned that beyond simply joining the "ain't it awful" chorus, we must prod ourselves to act and make changes in how we live and what we do. It is too easy to sit back passively enjoying one's privileged life, while pretending that it's not one's responsibility, or there's nothing one can do about it. We concluded that if we're not part of the broom, we're part of the dirt. Therefore we have "gone public" and put our money where our mouths are. In 2001, we made a written commitment of our intention, our share of the vital collective action that's needed to ensure a livable world for our great-grandchildren. We urge readers to produce their own commitment.
Because we think there is nothing more important than doing what we can for future generations, during 2005 we developed the Global Change Seminar on the Internet to stimulate positive action by individuals and small groups. Then, at the end of 2005, we initiated a once-a-month "Action Day" during which we focused on exerting political pressure on a global issues.
Never before have individual voices speaking out had such an effect as in the last few decades. We got to where we are because b/millions of individuals made thousands of individual decisons--and we'll solve our problems the same way.
We'd be happy if you too would prod us with your ideas about resources and what an individual can do by sending e-mail to us.
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
This page was last modified on June 18, 2008