Readers, it is time we muscled up to the task of thinking about where this society is heading. Educating ourselves is the first step, then we change our personal behaviours, then we might be encouraged to contact our MPs.
Water — In the last 10 years we have been entrapped into thinking that water that comes in plastic bottles is somehow better than the water that we get out of our taps; water that we have paid to be cleaned and screened. In a recent bacteriological study done at my high school, we determined that the number of bacterial cultures per 25 millilitre of water was greatest in water taken from a “bacteria filter” attached to the tap, followed by bottled water, followed by tap water (which contained insignificant cultures). Furthermore, the environmental impact of producing the plastic bottles is huge, even if they are recycled.
Economics — The idea that we can, as a society, judge success in terms of continuous economic growth does not fit the real world. The model has to be based on the biological one — populations reach a carrying capacity, a size which uses the resources to the maximum. Once reached, there are only two options: the populations declines due to starvation, disease, etc., or it remains in equilibrium, where the birth rate equals the death rate.
In economic terms this is, I believe, where we are at. The human population is at, or near, carrying capacity. So economic growth is also at this maximum.
The danger, or inevitability, is that there will be socio-economic change — unrest, maybe even extinction. We as a species reproduce continuously and are ever closer to the inevitable social inequalities and unrest. We live in a finite space and our planet can only support so many.
Computer technology — We depend on it at our peril. Kids today need to learn how to talk face to face, how to play in the real world.
In a recent experiment, groups of Grade 8 children were given a basket containing a ball, a hoop, a bat and some traffic cones. Their assignment was to invent a game. They were unable to do so, choosing instead to “Google” the equipment in the hopes of finding a preplanned game.
Have our children lost the ability to play? How many kids go out and build a fort or play hide and seek? And we do not do them any favours by registering them in highly competitive sports.
The world is changing, but the kids who see past the “advances” and who embrace some, not all, of the old values will be the winners — the leaders and the future makers and shakers.
So let’s throw out the bottled water, quit expecting the economy to grow and grow, and encourage our kids to read books and play. It’s the way for us to survive, in my opinion.