Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Revenge of the Tools

So I finished the Ronald Wright book, 'A Short History of Progress'. He did indeed talk about reducing consumption, but it was a decent conclusion. He, like Daniel Quinn, is asking for a change in vision. In Wright's case, a change from short-term to long-term vision. But, it's better than that, here [at the risk of spoiling it]:

"The reform that is needed is not anti-capitalist, anti-American, or even deep environmentalism; it is simply the transition from short-term to long-term thinking. From recklessness and excess to moderation and the precautionary principle.

"The great advantage we have, our best chance for avoiding the fate of past societies, is that we know about those past societies. We can see how and why they went wrong. Homo sapiens has the information to know itself for what it is: an Ice Age hunter only half-evolved towards intelligence; clever but seldom wise.

"We are now at the stage when the Easter Islanders could still have halted the senseless cutting and carving, could have gathered the last trees' seeds to plant out of reach of the rats. We have the tools and the means to share resources, clean up pollution, dispense basic health care and birth control, set economic limits in line with natural ones. If we don['t do these things now, while we prosper, we will never be able to do them when times get hard. Our fate will twist our of our hands. And this new century will not grow very old before we enter an age of chaos and collapse that will dwarf all the dark ages in our past.

"Now is our last chance to get the future right."

Pretty good eh?

So good it makes me want to read all the books in the bibliography. Clive Ponting's 'Green History of the World' is already on my shelf, neglected at page 115. Less readable, but more in depth. Another oldie but goodie.



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