Home > Uncategorized > The End of Shopping and a New World Order?…

The End of Shopping and a New World Order?…

I’ve written frequently about this subject. I’m very fond of the belief that a whole new economic order and an upheaval of the current social, political, cultural, educational, and philosophic underpinnings of society and business as usual is necessary.  I don’t think we have a whole lot of time to waste to change how we think about, interact, and built our world.

Sustainability is not, ultimately, an issue for the cosmos, the planet, or life on Planet Earth.  Whatever we humans do to mess up the climate and the ecosystem, the Earth will survive and some forms of life will thrive.  Unfortunately, human life is not likely to thrive unless some narrow environmental conditions are met and maintained.  Human sustainability is fragile.

One of the biggest factors that threatens the sustainability of human societies is, of course, unmitigated corporate power.  Globalization has been the mantra of global corporations for the past 2 decades, making the claim that by connecting everyone to each other in a planetary web of needs and the supply of goods and services to meet those needs, most differences and disagreements can be mollified. The poster child for globalization has been Thomas L. Friedman, columnist for the New York Times and the author of several best-selling books, including the Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat.  Friedman’s most famous theory, as presented in Lexus and the Olive Tree, is his Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention.

“No two countries that both had McDonald’s had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald’s”.

Although I am not so fond of Friedman in his giddiness for globalization, I am very interested in his recent column in the NYT, from June 7, 2011, entitled The Earth is Full.  The article is mostly a review about a recent book published by a veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, Paul Gilding, entitled, “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World”.

In his book, Gilding asks:

“How many people, lie on their death bed and say, ‘I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,’ and how many say, ‘I wish I had gone to more ballgames, read more books to my kids, taken more walks?’ To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.”

This brings immediately to mind the Kingdom of Bhutan, where, in 1972, its former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck who coined the term, Gross National Happiness as an indicator of national wealth.

It is, no doubt, time to stop worrying about climate change and really start thinking about how to change everything we do and use.


“If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees.  If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer. If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.”

Science, economics, politics, culture, and education are all ways that people interact that need revision.  We can’t keep living the way we do, deny the changes that are happening before us, and remain complacent.

“We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”

i, too, share Gilding’s optimism.  I also share King Wangchuck’s vision.  We can successfully use the shared wisdom that we humans have, to develop a new sustainable economic model – it is, by definition a global model.  But we need to act quickly and deliberately.  Gaia will not be kind if we dither. 


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