What if we upgraded our homes so that they need almost no imported energy, and the food we need for quality health, was produced within a few miles of were we live? What if we were able to offer our youth opportunities to work at jobs serving the needs of their own community? These are some of the topics open for consideration at the Town Hall Meeting that will take place on September 26th at the Perth Legion.
The human species has reached the mature stage of its growth. We are approaching our planet's limits; inexpensive supplies of some key resources are becoming scarce and some pollutants are reaching intolerable levels. Like some individuals approaching adulthood, our society is slow to accept the responsibility that comes with physical maturity. When we humans finally acknowledge planetary limits and resolve to live within them, there is no shortage of know-how for doing so successfully.
Since the early 1970s when diminishing resources and pollution issues started to make the news, tens of thousands of people have dedicated their lives to understanding the issues and finding solutions. Techniques are available to provide our communities with food, shelter, education and health care in ways that require less than 20% of our present levels of resource extraction and waste.
The political will is emerging to consider this wealth of information. Perth's Town Council has agreed to host a Town Hall Meeting in cooperation with Transition Perth (*1), to discuss building resilience for our changing times. It is a chance to advance the next stage of history.
Amidst the complexity of our times we often lose track of how well-suited humans are for a long and secure stay on this planet. We are an awesome creature with qualities that enable us to thrive in countless different circumstances. Once we acknowledge that circumstances have changed, we can adapt more easily than any other species. (*2)
At present, most governments aim for steady growth, regardless of the evidence that human activity already stresses the Earth. The math is simple and telling. At 3% growth per year, considered economically healthy, human activity would double in 24 years. Such activity and its environmental impacts would have to double again in the next 24 years, amounting to a four-fold increase. It is hard to imagine the Earth remaining healthy with human impacts doubling; a four fold increase would be disastrous. Yet, if the growth culture were [was] able to continue, this would have to happen within the natural life span of today's children. The impossibility of this goal explains a lot about why the global economy can't seem to get back in gear.
Recent literature on sustainable economics explains why continuous physical growth is no more necessary for a society to be healthy than it is for a mature adult. (*3) It is possible to organize economies that don't have to grow, and to find the imagination and creativity to do so.
Adults in every age are responsible for preparing the young for the world they are growing into. This is the point I made at the County Council meeting on June 19th. Young people today need to be aware of the challenge and opportunities of our times.
In the same way that the recent generation of youth grasped computing far more thoroughly than their parents and grandparents, today's young adults, if they become aware of the sustainability challenge, are capable of internalizing the criteria of long-term well-being on this full planet. With a sense of how the world is changing, today's students will have the energy and imagination to adapt. Their motivation will be the great power of love and their commitment to the families they may hope to raise. (*4)
This is an incredible time to be alive. A thousand years from now, people will look back on this time in history as the period when humankind moved from its long childhood and adolescence to a mature state. Every one of us can play a part. Mark September 26,  on your calendar and join us that evening at the Legion to learn more about, and to discuss the possibilities.