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We are stuck in a vicious cycle of over-consumption and dependence on economic growth. This is unsustainable and is making us ill. How did we get like this?

 

We are resourceful animals: resilient, adaptable, cooperative and artistic; but also violent, competitive, brutal greedy and jealous.

 Above all though, we are clever. We are, in fact, a freak of nature. Faced with lives that were ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’1 our forebears sought to improve their lot by harnessing the Earth’s natural resources in extraordinarily clever ways.

 

We have now colonized almost all of the landmass on our planet and some of us live long, secure and comfortable lives. But many of us do not, and even the lucky minority are often miserable. Worse still, we are now confronted by the greatest collective challenge of our long history.

 

Our natural resources are running out (mostly irreplaceable) and we have damaged the ecosystems upon which all of nature depends.

 

The question is: Are we clever enough to solve this challenge which our own cleverness has created? Much of the rest of nature depends on us getting this right: ALL of us. The solution is both simple and difficult.

 

We have to find a way of restraining our competitive, greedy and jealous

tendencies, whilst building on our resilient, adaptable, cooperative and

artistic nature.

 We must ‘live simply, so others may simply live’2. Most of these ‘others’ are yet to be born.

 

 

1. Thomas Hobbes, 17th century
English political philosopher.

2. Mahatma Gandhi, 20th century leader of Indian independence
and civil rights movement.