bulbul mankani

This conversation is closed.

We need to slow down.

The environment demands that we come down into first gear. The immense mobiility of the world is going to destroy us. All the flying around, all the driving around, the big lit up cities, the factories.... The excessive consuption of fossil fuel is already choking our planet. We also know that nuclear power is not an option. The way out is to keep the best of half a century ago- the community, the simpler homes, the romance of real experiences instead of media.

Can we get off our addiction to speed? To conveniences? To grab and steal? To corruption? To me-me-me world?

  • thumb
    Apr 23 2011: I think this proposition is part of a more general and fundamental concept - growth.

    We are addicted to the notion of unlimited expansion of power, production, achievement and ultimately population.

    Our personal obsession with growth is deeply connected to fear of death - we are somehow convinced that we must ‘fulfil our potential’ before it’s too late, before we die.

    However, we do so without really knowing what that potential is, so we end up just trying to do the most we can, whatever that may be, regardless of the longer term consequences.

    Unfettered growth morphs into greed.

    So, groups of people build a successful enterprise, because they can, only to realise later that it was a huge mistake - e.g. the tobacco industry.

    Individuals obsessively develop empire building philosophies fuelled by the need to own and control everything they possibly can (Rupert Murdoch - please stop!)

    The availability of more people, faster communication and higher production capability accelerates the drive as a species to produce more and more stuff, use more and more resources, travel further and faster, and support ever larger populations.

    Why is the intensification of instinctive reproductive drives by the religious injunction to ‘go forth and multiply’ automatically a good thing? Why should there be ever more and more human beings?

    I think the pessimistic thread of this conversation is an acknowledgement that there is no sign of this stopping, and that it could lead by default to a dystopic world with nothing except human beings crammed shoulder to shoulder in technologically supported life pods or some such…

    I am with E. F. Schumacher - small is beautiful.
  • thumb
    Apr 20 2011: "We also know that nuclear power is not an option"

    • thumb
      Apr 25 2011: We have to leave every option open, we just have to find away to make it better and safer
      • thumb
        Apr 26 2011: it is getting safer every year. don't forget: we have 40 years old power plants all over the place. today's designs, and especially tomorrow's designs are very very safe.
  • thumb
    May 20 2011: We have to slow down the sooner the better. We are missing the best in life.
  • thumb
    Apr 21 2011: Very nice conversation going on!
    Yes, Brian & Revett... we are pessimistic, because we don't have the "glowing spirit", like you, to see people killing each other every day and still hope for it to just get over like a 2 hour slasher movie!

    I see you believe "eventually" it will all get better - which means you just want to hold your breath while somebody else makes it better, you don't even want to accept that what's happening is bad. Its like that rabbit, who hides his head in a hole and assumes that since he can't see anyone, the wolves can't see him either.

    Yes, I agree, we are addicted to convenience and technology... and I always thought "addiction" was a bad thing! Well, that's only me though, maybe you didn't!

    Anyway, @Bulbul, you've got the root cause right - it's a me-me-me world... we can improve technology, we can set speed limits, we can set harder & harder laws to stop corruption - but the base will still be the same; It's always about "me-first"; and there is no technology, no law, no rule that can help change it.

    Only I can make the decision to not think about only me.... and well, I am trying to. Others... its upto them.
    Sorry for being a cynic.
    • thumb
      Apr 21 2011: Wow.
      Sharit, I appreciate you response to my comments, but please take a moment to hear what I saying.
      It is not about me, in fact it is about us, together we will solve our issues when we commit to solving them.
      Problems are not solved because we wish them to be rather because individuals often come up with solutions that benefit us all. My point was let us not limit the individual as we seek solutions, but rather encourage and celebrate each achievement as we benefit collectively.
      I am not sitting back holding my breadth, in fact I actively do what I can in the ways that I can to positively contribute to the issues we face.
      I am interested in your response to our challenges, rather than an analysis of my comments. Please share.
      • thumb
        Apr 21 2011: Okay Brian, I agree, this difference in opinion is just making all of us distracted from the main topic.
        But the answer to the topic is so complex ... and simple at the same time!! What Bulbul asked was not really a question of our capability, but of our intention.

        Yes, that is so cliched, that I hate myself while writing it... but think about it, we are the problem.... and only we can be the solution. Conveniences - luxury cars, Air Conditioning, gigantic breathtaking houses - yes, we can't do without them. But maybe we can scale them down a bit - maybe one car per house is sufficient, maybe we don't need a car for every member of the family, even if we can afford it. Yes, a big house, a big lawn around it - who doesn't want it? But maybe we can cut two rooms off, maybe we don't really need the whole lawn anyway!

        Thats how we make space for other people, thats how we leave room to breath... yes, maybe this won't really stop Judgement day, but maybe it will at least slow down a lot!

        Just my 2 bits...
        • thumb
          Apr 21 2011: Thank you Sharit, I can see now where you think the solution lies and I agree that we must conserve, reduce waste and recycle responsible if we are to make an impact on our environment.
          But with emerging economies in China, India, Brazil and others who is going to be the one to tell their emerging middle class that they must limit their expressions of success, i.e, big cars and large homes, etc.
          Those of us in Western countries are being conditioned for the realities of new technologies fostering alternative energy sources even as we pay high gas prices right now at the pumps.
          I believe when those technologies are competitive with the current energy sources people will undoubtedly switch, but that day is still a long way off. We have gotten good at processing fossil fuels and the cost to produce energy from them is relatively cheap when compared to Wind, Solar or Bio-fuels.
          Still many companies are considering these new sources especially as Governments provide incentive for them to do so.
          Hybrid and Electric cars are another way that some have found to shift us off of fossil fuels, but even these technologies make no claim to completely shift us off of fossil fuels. And they bring their own problems as well, we will need huge reserves of electric power to accommodate all these (1st generation) vehicles on our grids in the afternoons, then there is battery disposal (most will last five years), etc.
          I happen to believe that these are all just temporary solutions and another more efficient source of energy will be developed within the next decade.
          Thanks again for the conversation, cheers
  • thumb
    Apr 21 2011: It's interesting that you mention slowing down, although your examples are about scaling down. I think there is an important distinction between the two, and the solution paths for the two are different (allowing for some overlap). Underneath both, however, is an issue of seeking contentment within rather than without. We don't need to drive across town or fly across the country to be stimulated, and we don't need 4 hobbies instead of 1 to feed our sense of self-worth. If you are malcontent inside, then however far you travel, the malcontentment will be there, arriving at the same instant you do.
  • thumb
    Apr 20 2011: As I've perused many of the debates and view points represented here on TED I cannot help but notice a thread of pessimism throughout. It worries me a bit, I must confess I had hoped that such viewpoints would be in the minority in such a progressive forum as TED.
    This sentiment seems to have the same source whenever it appears and that is from folks who worry about the environment or distribution of resources and in scientific inquiry versus religious observances.
    Our History has always been one where issues and conflicts seem ever present, but our response to these and future problem must never be one of retreat or capitulation.
    We as a species do much better when the individual is allowed freedom to express new ideas and find solutions to new challenges. Curbing this expression and limiting the individual seems to me to be the very thing we ought not do, especially when our world needs answers to Global issues like the environment, energy, population expansion and a host of other pressing issues.
    It is our addiction to convenience and technology and hope in the individuals talent that will eventually bring solutions to many of the issues that we face today, just as it has for past generations.

    BMG - http://brians-say.blogspot.com/
    • Comment deleted

      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Apr 21 2011: Johnson, I was neither being reckless or arrogant in my comments. I was merely presenting an optimistic view point or at lease trying to steer the conversation in that direction.
          You must admit that many see doom and disaster in ever problem that we currently face as a species. I do not and I believe that individuals will rise to the tasks and offer real solutions to our problems, as they have always done.
          Please offer a perspective on the topic that we may respond to in a reasonable debate rather than as you've stated a "9 year old radical free thinkers" approach thus far.
        • thumb
          Apr 21 2011: Got a problem with progress Revett? Prefer to conserve things the way they've always been?
        • thumb
          Apr 24 2011: Revett, you are a mentor in your real life and I think that you would do far more good with some of these young people by explaining why you object to or reject their solutions.What is it that you know or that your life experience has taught you that helps you know what you know? You are also a dad and you know that taking offense to the imaginings of the young can hurt them more than help them. You have it in you to make a real difference here and perhaps shape lives and perspectives. If you are really intellectually and emotionally open they may improve you too.
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Apr 24 2011: Revett, you just said something I think we can all build upon. We all object to the kind of meddling we have seen over the course of our lifetimes. I think we all want the 'solutions' to be based on something more concrete and more valid than experimentation. How would you suggest that we improve the system- that we can certainly all agree is imperfect? I know that you object to some of the same things I do. Where do we start?
      • Comment deleted

    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Apr 21 2011: Johnson, have you actually read a word of my commentary?
        I suggested no solutions whatever, I espoused an optimistic view that relies heavily on our youth to solve pressing problems of our day, as they always have.
        We, all of us are in this together and I will do my best to be a part of the solution as we face the issues of the day. But I will not lose hope in our ability to find solutions and solve these issues.
        So how about it are you prepared to offer some real insight on the topic?
      • thumb
        Apr 24 2011: Johnson, I think that you are excited about making real change but before we can engage in actual change we have to engage hearts and minds. That means finding some common ground for dialogue. You have so much to offer and yet your style has a tendency to alienate and polarize the debate. May I sincerely ask you to consider that the people who have oppositie viewpoints here on TED are among the most reasonable people you will encounter. Practicing here in the art of communication and persuasion will only benefit you and your causes.
  • May 13 2011: I concur with Nicolas that it is by propagating awareness in each individual that will lead to considerable 'economies of scale' to slow down the issue. On a positive note, I think I am seeing more conscious effort coming from large corporations to create such awareness and hopefullly, lead to more 'responsible' consumerism. I guess one of the main hindrance is the consideration on GDP/economy (esp for developing countries) and thus, on this front, ends up being a chickern-and-egg issue of whether this should be pushed more by governments of the day or by the consumer masses (ie you and me). Looking at the rate of this degradation to our environment/earth resources, we are at a critical juncture for concrete steps/decisions to be taken... humbly yours!
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: well put! i agree. but human evolution is in a constant fratcal always progressing more in less time, its not so much slowing but more reevaluating what needs progressing and what doesnt.
  • thumb

    Sky F

    • 0
    Apr 21 2011: I think it's less of a "can" question and more of a "when will we?"

    All I hope is that it is before a major catastrophe and not after.
    • thumb
      Apr 22 2011: I am convinced, it will take a number of natural catastrophes over perhaps a decade that even the most critical of global warming would have to concede that everything needs to change.
  • thumb
    Apr 20 2011: You're asking the world to change?

    I'm with you, but I have no advice besides education being the key to such success.

    good luck.