There is no Away
Today most of us are faced with a constant and fast moving stream of information, ideas, motivation and the less-than-savory-aspects of humankind as we share our lives on social channels. It’s a torrent that is becoming harder and harder to manage, but it’s our new digital reality and it’s fundamentally changing the world in ways we can’t even imagine right now. In the meantime, we’re all working out how WE want to live within the context of this new world and I personally think it’s a fascinating time for humankind. I always have hope we will achieve our best selves in the mix of whatever we face – eventually at least.
Sometimes people send out stuff that makes you think, some challenge your ideas or beliefs, and some people share stuff that pisses you off because you are just not in the right frame of mind to hear that bullshit TODAY! Tomorrow might be a completely different situation and the spiritual bollocks of one day becomes the inspiration that gets you through the next. It’s pretty interesting.
Anyhoo, one thing that really stood out to me recently – something I have long since lost in the bowels of my Facebook history – was this.
A picture of our beautiful world from space.
At the top it said: “Rubbish.”
At the bottom it said: “There is no away.”
That’s it really. Nothing more to be said. It’s really simple and it completely struck a chord with me. But are we getting the message? Do we really understand what we’re dealing with? I mean really? I don’t think so.
Recently I was doing some research on the airline industry for work and I came across a story on CNN World, featuring Kishore Mahbubani, who is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and a member of the World Economic Forum. He said: the “explosion of Asia’s middle class, which was named by the World Economic Forum’s Agenda Council as one of the , is stunning.”
In this article, he states that the middle class in Asia is estimated to be at 500 million people today, but that number is expected to reach 1.75 billion by 2020 – a three-fold increase in just seven years. This prediction is considered one of the biggest seismic shifts in human history - with close to two billion middle class predicted for Asia - or 30 per cent of the world’s middle class – all based in my neighborhood.
My mind boggles at this number, especially as I’m already feeling the influx of the new middle class today. Like any middle class demographic anywhere in the world, we can only expect this growing community to have the same expectations the West has enjoyed for the last half century. But the West has not done a good job of growing and caring for the environment at the same time. We have not set a good example.
So how do we survive nearly two billion new people consuming at the rate we consume within a very short timeframe? Demanding more luxury goods, cupboards full of clothes and shoes, more cars, more white goods, more TVs than a family needs, more space at home, and more plastic shit toys that break within 24 hours of buying them? And then what about food? This is Asia, so one luxury is Shark Fin soup. But another luxury is lobsters - the poor bloody lobsters. Is there any way we can cater for more demand and expect our marine life to survive?
Even perfume! I saw a documentary recently and the future of the perfume industry is catering to a new customer with different tastes – pungent versus delicate. My fragrances of choice may no longer be available because my market will shrink to irrelevancy within the mix of this expected growth. Of course, there are many more things that can be included here, but the fundamental thing that will change is energy requirements – we’re going to need more, a lot more! How can we do it? Well we can’t do it based on our current approach, we know that.
We live in a world where there is NO AWAY. It’s dramatic, really dramatic, and we need to change things now, right now, or we’re all screwed. I think this guy really did get it right in his video: “One Guy With A Marker Just Made The Global Warming Debate Completely Obsolete”. I certainly hope we don’t have to live through a Day After Tomorrow scenario before we get the bloody message.