A summarizing quote offered by a facebook “Intellectual Joke”

Posted by Nicholas Anton

I awoke to find this quote posted on a colleagues facebook page, which sums up some discussion during the biodiversity and conservation and the climate change and energy sessions:

Today’s Reality:

Big house but small family

More education but less common sense

Advanced medicine but poor health

High income but less peace of Mind

High IQ knowledge but less wisdom

And finally

Lots of human beings but less humanity

Discussion highlighted our materialistic nature and how it is leading to our demise. We have more money now than ever but we are unhappy, unsatisfied and destructive. Bill Mckibben noted jokingly that some of the larger oil corporations have more money than God “ which even got a smile from the His All-Holiness. Over consumption is everywhere. Michael Northcott, a noted professor of ethics and ordained priest, shared a quick story about a run he had taken around the island earlier that morning. He had finished down by the beach where he was bombarded with a field of plastic and other trash. We don’t need big homes and lots of stuff!!! Anne Wallin, Director of EH&S and Sustainability at Dow Chemical noted how in Switzerland she is able to live a more simplified life in a much smaller house with only one car while generating 1/3 of the trash as she did in Michigan. To get to this point we are going to need a major mind-shift, a new cultural reality.

The more developed countries, with the most money and best education, are responsible for the majority of the pollution. The US is only 4% of the population but we emit the most green house gases which cause climate change. Effects of climate change are impacting poorer nations with little way to cope. We are not loving thy neighbor, instead Mckibben states. We are drowning them and sickening them (and in some cases, killing them).

Discussion on population growth has been scarce thus far. Perhaps today as we our discussion moves towards food and innovation it will increase. Jane did highlight the micro loan program, which provides small money to women in developing nations. She held out her hand as she spoke as if receiving the money to show us how the women felt holding something so precious to them for the first time in their live. Empowering and educated women leads to lower total fertility rates and helps alleviate poverty.

Much of the conversation after Jane’s session was on the importance of influencing and educating our youth. Although participant, Vigen Guroian, professor of religious studies at U of Virginia, warned us that we had relied on an active youth group in the past (think 60s & 70s).  He warns that same gung-ho youth turned out to be us!! But youth are making a difference – Jane’s Roots and Shoots is now in 130 countries and Bill’s 350.org group has participated in over 20,000 demonstrations globally.

Most of the discussion after Bill’s session centered on large corporations. Who is responsible and how can we get them to listen? If you have not yet had the pleasure of hearing him speak – run, don’t walk! Maybe you can catch him in Rio – he is on his way there this very minute. I think I have gecome a Mckibben groupie.

Breakfast time is almost over… heading down for a quick sip of juice before heading into Gary Hirshberg’s session on Innovation and the economy.

More ramblings to come.