In 1972, The Club of Rome published a controversial book entitled “The Limits to Growth.” Its critics were quick to attack the statistical modeling the authors employed in reaching their conclusion that “
The math may prove to be off a bit, but it appears — 49 years since the book’s publication and with only 79 years to go in the projected timeline — that the underlying hypothesis may be frighteningly accurate.
Fortunately, the scientists, educators, economists, humanists and industrialists from 10 countries, who wrote the report, held out the hope that human life can survive “indefinitely” if we are willing to impose limits on our insatiable appetite for material goods and seek to control population growth.
Thinking of that during my confinement in the COVID-19-cave, which included time to read extensively (I am retired), my mind plunged to disquieting lows, soared to ecstatic highs, and even attained levels of moderation during which I was able to share my thoughts in terms that did not send people running to find safe places to hide.
On the ultra-low side was the depressing conviction that of all the creatures on earth, none is more superfluous than humans. All of our greatest technological and scientific “advances” that have been produced through our “genius” would have no value in our absence.
Nature, with all its fury and beauty would thrive in a pristine state: no pollution, wars, corrupt politics or ravenous depletion of natural resources, would intrude. There would not be corporations making money by doing harm to our precious earth, nor billionaires willing to defile the atmosphere in order to indulge in sub-orbital space rides.
My faith in a power greater than myself is what propels me to ecstatic heights, because it informs me that to the extent miracles are possible, we are the ones that make them happen. We can agree that the excessive wealth of the few be dedicated to endeavors such as feeding the many who are poor, clothing the naked, providing for orphans, caring for the sick, giving shelter to those without homes, ending war, being kind to each other, loving our neighbors as ourselves and saving our environment.
We can decide not to pollute the environment by taking wasteful sea cruises, or engaging in nonessential travel. We can support local businesses to enable them to pay living wages to our neighbors. We can get money out of politics and elect people to office who genuinely want to serve their constituents, as opposed to pandering to their big-money contributors. My vision is that there is no limit to what we can do to save the world and to make it livable for everyone.
Then there are the moments of moderation, which are the most depressing of all. At this level I realize that to a great extent our society is at the mercy of a few multinational corporations, whose purpose is to make money for its shareholders, regardless of whether their ruthlessness is at the expense of their employees, or whether their lust for profits is wreaking havoc on our fragile environment.
We live in a culture in which those who have much, want more, and in which we compete against each other, because that is more conducive to winning than is cooperation. People are more likely to ask “Why should I share what I have earned?”, rather than “My dear friend, what can I do to make your life better?”
One thing I know for sure, we cannot continue to exist unless we become less materialistic, less greedy, less competitive and more willing to find internal joy with far less stuff.
There is much we need to discuss. It is my hope that this very incomplete article may plant a seed.
I wish you peace, love and joy!
Jim Palermo lives in Southampton.