Photo: Earth in Space -- Wikipedia
In encouraging support for earthquake devastated Haiti we had a few comments, including some since been removed by our moderator, that espoused a decided lack of compassion for people in need.
Their tone reminded me of a 1992 sci-fi movie, called variously as Escape from Absolom or No Escape (video below). In short prisoners are dumped on an island and left largely to fend for themselves. Rather like William Golding's 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies, but with grown-ups. In one corner eagerly pulling on the gloves is personal ego and greed. In the other corner keen to avoid a fight is the common good. Who prevails in the long term, who is the more sustaining? Those who only care about themselves, or those who look out for others?
In many ways I think this is the nub of the environment question.
[ In the movie there are two camps. One of marauders, as seen in the clip above, who take whatever they can get, with scant regard for another's life or circumstance. The other camp grows its own food, harnesses its own energy and live largely as a civil community, helping one another. ]
We will not solve our planet's predicaments by pulling up the drawbridge around our individual castle of riches. Our world has ample resources to maintain a sensible population if only we can learn to appreciate the benefits of sharing.
Earth, like the location in Absolom, or Golding's book, is also an island. Rescue to another safe place is unlikely, yet instead of learning to work together, making the most of what we have, we snipe at our neighbour, whilst demanding more for ourselves. Even if we already have more than our fair share.
The Copenhagen talks being a classic example -- no compromise equals no deal. Yet what is compromise? It's where several parties get more than they previously had, by agreeing to give something. Sustainability requires that developed countries compromise some of their current luxury, as an investment in their, and everyone else's, future.
If the West can't yet give up its wide screen TVs and SUVs, surely it can, at least, give some empathy and understanding to fellow human beings in distress, like Haitians. For sustainability is not a solo endeavour, no-one will get there alone, it will require co-operation and working together.
That's the choice. Less comfort today, for a longer tomorrow. Or feast now, followed by famine.
Sure it is possible to steal, loot and plunder what one needs. But for how long? Keep it up long enough and eventually the goose gets eaten for short term hunger, forfeiting the ability to lay golden eggs for the long term.
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