View Full Version : Skills for the Age of Sustainability

01-01-09, 03:07 AM
Two pieces from rathaus published in the 2001-2002 timeframe that I found enlightening

Skills for the Age of Sustainability: An Unprecedented Time of Opportunity (http://www.ratical.org/LifeWeb/Articles/theBridge0502.html)

It is an honor for me to be asked to address young people at the beginning of your careers while also at the beginning of a new millennium. Your generation has been named the Millennials, and this is a very important time in your lives, when you will make crucial decisions. It is also, without doubt, an extremely important time in human history -- a time, in fact, when you will necessarily change history forever.

If we are to talk about sustainability, we must, first of all, really understand that unsustainability means CANNOT AND WILL NOT SURVIVE AS IS. In other words, we have no choice but to change the way we live as a human species. You will either be a contributing part of our change for the better, or, if you choose to ignore or deny the fact of our present unsustainability, you will, by default, contribute to the rapid decline of our civilization and all humanity. Naturally, I hope you will all choose the first course.

When you look at your society now, this may seem a difficult and hopeless time, with unemployment at a new high and unsustainability in the very air you breathe. But if you learn to look at the present from a broader evolutionary perspective, you will see the potential for a very different future. In fact, the present is really an unprecedented time of opportunity. Think of it as a stage between caterpillar and butterfly -- a time of metamorphosis when an old unsustainable system fights to preserve itself as a new system struggles to be born.

the second piece

What the World wants and how to pay for it

Over the past forty years, a growing body of literature has documented, in ever more depressing and debilitating detail, the myriad and complex problems facing humanity.

Over the past ten years, a small, but increasingly systematic effort has been made to explore and document an equally important aspect of our global problems. This effort is directed at learning what the world should look like, not at finding out what the world will be like. It is not an attempt at forecasting or developing a set of predictions, but rather at the creating of a statement of values, desires and preferences. Specifically, the more than 200,000 people who have participated in this project (from government leaders and corporate executives to university, high school and even elementary school students) have been asked, "Given the present situation of the world, what do you want the world to be like twenty years from now? What is your preferred state?"

Participants were also asked to phrase their answers as positive statements. Instead of saying, "In twenty years, there is no starvation in the world," or "No war," they were to say, "100% of humanity is well-nourished," or "Peace." They were told that we were not interested in what they were against, but rather what they were for. They were, in other words, asked to be visionaries.

The results of these efforts have yielded something quite extraordinary.

Although the results seem, at first glance, to be utopian in vision and scope, the results of this effort cannot be dismissed as merely a "wild-eyed fantasy of a bunch of pie-in-the-sky do-gooder radicals." On the contrary, given the broad spectrum of people involved in creating this global preferred state, it can be argued that the results give a good indication of where the entire world, given the "vote," would agree to move towards. More importantly, and very disturbingly, the global preferred state cannot be dismissed as fantasy for another good reason: it is quite achievable, and achievable with present day technology and resources. Going one step further: it is not only achievable with present day technology and resources, it is affordable.

These startling conclusions are backed up by an emerging and refreshing complement to the research documenting the world's problems, namely, a body of research that has, in recent years, pointed to possible solutions to these same problems. Section 1 of this Report deals with the world's present problem state and the vision of how the world should be. Section 2 deals with a set of possible strategies and solutions that will enable the world to make real the vision of what it wants. Hopefully, both will shed some light on the options facing humanity in the closing moments of the twentieth and the opening of the twenty-first century.