Monday, January 30, 2012

UN Tells It Like It Is

The world can no longer afford to ignore the environmental cost of economic growth and must redefine the very concept of national wealth, a UN panel of heads of state and environment ministers said Monday.

Now, the UN is only the UN, but at least this will get some press. Please spread this as far as your circle of friends, online and otherwise, allows.

Once we recognise, across all sectors of society, that Perpetual Growth is a poison, and that our monetary system forces it upon us, we see clearly the depth of change necessary. I am for negative interest money, guaranteed income, expansion of the commons and open education (a deep revolution in education) as first steps to put humanity on a path which has the best chance of giving rise to a far more sustainable and socially healthy system. Such ideas need to be widely aired and discussed, but I think something like them will prove to be essential once we have accepted that Perpetual Growth is our primary problem.

I think this report is very good news.


Debra said...

Unrelated, Toby, but today I read a piece in a magazine that I have just subscribed to, about a woman who is truly living a different life, and looked actively to do so.
She went to business school, and refused the option of choosing money or power or both, telling the professor that she wanted... NEITHER.
He told her she had no business being in his class... After she got her diploma, she spent some time doing humanitarian ecology work, but found it did not correspond to her lifestyle choice, WHICH WAS TO SLOW DOWN.
So, she picked up and went to Corsica, where she lived in a tent with no water or electricity.
She says that at that time, she realized HOW LITTLE SHE COULD DO WITH HER HANDS, because she had spent so much time... with the books, Toby (but it could be the Internet, too...).
After various humanitarian efforts, she is now teaching people how to make wicker (vannerie in French) object. She lives in a secluded spot in the French Cevennes with her companion, and son, and still does some journalism.
Pretty neat, huh ?
She says that manual work is essential for her to ground herself, as she is an intellectual.
100% agree with that...
It sounds like we are KINDA at the same place.
That means there are tons of other people at that place too...
By the way, it doesn't look like anybody has come to arrest her yet FOR DROPPING OUT OF THE SYSTEM...

Toby said...

Very interesting. There's an Irishman who did the same for a year in the UK. Here's his site:

As to being locked up by the state, the German state would lock my wife and I up for taking our children out of school. They have done to others in the past (a German couple were granted political asylum from German a few years back (2007?) for homeschooling their children!), and they fine you heavily too, or they take your children away from you. It is brutal here. What with that and the legal requirement to pay close to 150 a month to health insurance, Germany is once again a fascist state, or a dictatorship, or some weird, new hybrid.

You know, Carl Jung said that good therapy was working at that which does not come naturally to you. He believed humans come in 4 flavours: thinking, intuition, feeling, sensation. According to tests, I am an intuitive. My opposite, my shadow type, is therefore sensation, which would mean dance or sculpture or pottery etc., as therapy for me. Those who are on the thinking-feeling scale, would have to engage in their opposite.

I am still without income, so my focus is on getting income streams secured, with the intention of having more time to do things like pottery or dance. Right now, with minimal monthly costs of around 1300, I have to stay glued to my computer to get the qualifications I need to earn the money I have to earn. Even with no debts we live in very expensive times. (I have no debts.)

Debra said...

France sounds a little less heavy handed militaristic on the topics you bring up, although... if you are a single, POOR woman with children in France, God help you, because there are so many people who want to help you (THEIR WAY OF COURSE...), and punish you for being poor (it's YOUR FAULT, STUPID), that it would boggle your mind.
If you don't have children, the State will pretty much leave you alone. But since our children are modern... GODS for us, well THEY MUST BE ENSHRINED, and bowed down to (at considerable cost to THEM, too).
My husband and I are living very very quiet lives at this time. His work as a therapist is supporting us, and he is not selling his soul to do therapy with people either.
My daughter made me laugh the other night. She said that the person she did a workshop with several years ago was baffled by the fact that we could eat ham and courgettes for lunch almost every day with no problem. What's the big deal ?
If I had been a single POOR woman, the State would have taken my kids away from me for serving them ham and courgettes for lunch almost every day.. (I cook a nice meal for dinner...)
What a world we live in.
Good luck, Toby. Hugs.

Debra said...

Toby, do you have an etymological dictionary ?
For my loonies this morning, I did a little number on AUSTERITY/FRUGALITY.
If you look at the origin of the two words you will see something very interesting.
"Austerity" fits into a context of religious mortification, like self punishment/humiliation for sin...
Frugality, on the other hand... derives from "fruit", "being able to produce a good harvest".
Question for a champion... HOW DID "WE" MANAGE TO PULL THE AUSTERITY WORD OUT OF THE HAT ??" (Remember my favorite theory that the words speak us, and we do not speak them...)
Today I will be busy.. turning "austerity" into "frugality" through the exercise of my.. FREE WILL.

Toby said...

That's interesting.

I always use the net:

And the net agrees with your etymology dictionary!

The whole idea of economy comes from purposeful production as opposed to gathering from the wild, as you know. Then, bearing fruit via farming requires us to store and wisely consume the fruits of our efforts, to economize. To be frugal. Fruit, frugal; obvious when presented to you on a platter, but I wouldn't have drawn the connection on my own. Fascinating...

Debra said...

Toby, my very favorite Greek myth is the story of Philemon and Baucis.
I think (believe ?) that hospitality was the most sacred virtue possible in the world of the Ancients. For very good reason.
I think that we could/should revive the sacredness of hospitality.
Look up Philemon and Baucis for a neat take on... FRUGALITY...
I hope that I end up so fortunate, by the way...

Jason (ReportsFromEarth) said...

This UN statement is great news!

Thanks for giving it some attention - mainstream media probably skipped that one again..

This is the first time I hear some sort of criticism by a mainstream organisation hinting towards a paradigm change rather than the usual fiddling with budget or replacing politicians.

Thank god there are a number of alternatives. I will post an overview on my blog soon. There are some measures each of us can do already - sort of to prepare for a major change.

One thing is to fight advertising - actively - with adblockers on the internet and various others ways in 3D life as I have also suggested at

Rio has done this successfully for over 4 years - at least for most outdoor advertising. So, to hope for a law supporting that in more cities/countries this is not that unrealistic.

Sorry if this sounds like promoting my own blog - which it is - but it is also very important and in line with your post and view - I believe :)

Toby said...

Hi Jason,

thanks for stopping by. Don't worry about plugging your site; anything which adds to the discussion, presents ideas to people, is good in my book. You site looks very well put together, and you seem to have the basic intent of offering a wide range of alternative ideas. We definitely need more of that.

Meanwhile, the sad truth is that the vast majority of us still remain in the grip of Consumerism and Bling Culture. Only an enormous shock can wake us up, but what happens after such a shock is highly unlikely to be calm, rational debate towards sustainable solutions. As Charles Eisenstein says, we need miracles if we are to make it to the end of this century.