“All of humanity is in peril, if each one of us does not dare, now and henceforth, always to tell only the truth and all the truth, and do so promptly – right now.” – Buckminster Fuller
How many times have I been told, “Keep it positive! Emphasize solutions!” Yet I can’t tell you how often I’ve sat down with an activist whose latest policy paper is all about solutions, and in heart-to-heart conversation they reveal that they don’t really think our species has much of a chance of avoiding major catastrophe, maybe even extinction. It’s a tough balance. If you tell the truth to a fault, you don’t get invited to policy seminars, and politicians avoid you like the plague. If you sugar coat the message, you have to live with the knowledge that the vast majority of people on our planet have almost no awareness of what is about to happen to them, and you aren’t telling them. – Trying to Save the World – Richard Heinberg
I started posting to this blog in March of 2007. It’s been as much a journey as a journal and my posts have been the cairns left on the trail of my search for meaning and truth. The direction of my search has been open-ended, non-directional, and often both troubling and unexpected. I changed the name of the blog from “The Sustainable Home” to “Sustainable Dwelling” as my vision expanded and my subject matter broadened in scope and reach.
As a result of one my posts, I was asked to make a presentation this summer to the International Association of Public Participation about making sustainable decisions in the context of the four pillars of sustainability. In preparation, I was compelled to look back on my journey and ask if I really “knew” anything. Would I be able to humbly “tell the truth” or fail and spew forth some grossly ego-contaminated version of pseudo truth? As a result, this blog has been mostly silent as I struggled to resolve and make peace with what I’ve written and what I’ve learned, including my readings of others who have walked a similar path.
Much like the journey of this blog, the process of preparing the presentation became it’s own journey and I began to question the mythical foundations of humanity and how they shape our actions and beliefs. How simple things like canvas shopping bags, electric cars, buying local, and recycling give us a false and comforting sense of “going green” that masks the imminent peril of our ecological overshoot.
In the end, my presentation – my humble attempt at the truth, would attempt to ask and answer two questions:
- Can humanity achieve a sustainable balance within our closed ecosystem, or have we reached the point where that vision is just another example of the hubris of human exceptionalism?
- Is it time to switch our focus from sustainability to one of resilience in the face of societal collapse and industrial decline?
I’ve posted a copy of the presentation including the speaker notes on SlideShare.net. You can find it here.
Is a warning about the future a prediction of doom or a call to follow a different path?