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22 May 2012

Randers: “Don’t teach your children to love the wilderness”. Discuss

I am reading Jorgen Randers’ new book ’2052: a global forecast for the next forty years’, due for publication next month.  Imagine a ‘Limits to Growth’ for the next 40 years, a presentation of Randers’ best guess as to how the world will pan out between now and 2052.  As you can imagine, it’s not an uplifting read, but it is often illuminating, even though I disagree with some of his findings.  Surprisingly, the most challenging bit comes at the end of the book, after all the graphs and charts, and talk about 2 degrees of climate change, of our inevitable mega-urbanisation and so on.  It will hopefully prove to be the spark for a fascinating discussion here.

There is a section called “What Should You Do?” which is usually the part in such books that picks you up a bit, and makes you believe that you can do something to alter the projections he has previously set out.  There are some great bits of ‘personal advice’ in there, such as ‘focus on satisfaction rather than income’, ‘do not acquire a taste for things that will disappear’, ‘stop believing that all growth is good’, and ‘in politics, remember that the future will be dominated by physical limits’.  Fair enough.  But there is one there that is so spectacularly depressing that I really needed to bring it out here and look at it with some other people.

It is “don’t teach your children to love the wilderness”. Randers reasons that over the next 50 years we will see the ongoing erosion of biodiversity and wilderness, due to climate change and humanity’s reach into more and more remote areas.  A love for “old, undisturbed nature”, he argues, is something it will become increasingly difficult to satisfy.  ”By teaching your child to love the loneliness of the untouched wilderness, you are teaching her to love what will be increasingly hard to find”, he argues, which will lead to unhappiness and despondency.  ”Much better then”, he concludes, “to rear a new generation that find peace, calm and satisfaction in the bustling life of the megacity – and with never-ending music piped into their ears”.  That must rank as one of the most devastating visions of the future I have read anywhere.

This links to another of his pieces of personal advice, “invest in great electronic entertainment and learn to prefer it”.  I’d be fascinated to hear your thoughts.  Might a move to a world that has successfully decarbonised itself only be possible if we are to disconnect from wilderness?  I know what I think about it, but I’d love to hear from you.  Is this something that fills you with horror, or are you pleased to finally see someone taking what strikes you as being a realistic angle on this?  Discuss.

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47 Comments

Mark A
22 May 3:00pm

I’ve just moved from the city to the country (in Australia). Of the many reasons for doing so I would say a primary one is to CONNECT my young children with the natural environment.

I’m under no illusion that the outstanding beauty of the southern coast of Western Australia is at risk from the ravages of climate change, and in particular declining rainfall. However, our children are our hope of tackling head on the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation. They must be educated and inspired to make the necessary changes to our way of life. A change in worldview will be generational.

There will always be wilderness and it will have its own beauty. It will be more real than computer games and the internet. My children will grow with it and in it. They will suffer its losses and shape its future. The thought of my children disconnecting from wilderness is more depressing to me than our future climate prospects.

Joanna
22 May 4:07pm

I moved to rural Latvia where depopulation of the areas is bringing with it its own problems and I cannot think of a better way of enthusing the next generation to care about the planet they live on than to teach them about wilderness. Yes find calm wherever they are but if they don’t love the wilderness then they will not fight to keep whatever vestiges there are of it.

Mark puts it far more eloquently than I do.

mike jones
22 May 5:09pm

I’m half way through Richard Louv’s second book on ‘nature deficit disorder’- The Nature Principle. It’s about the effects increasing removal from nature is having on us all. From reading this and from personal experience I don’t see piped music and top quality electronic entertainment cutting it. We can find peace,calm and satisfaction in the bustling megacity, but not if it’s devoid of nature. It must be woven and infused with the green stuff, the creeping, crawling, buzzing and chirping.
Kids don’t need untouched wilderness to connect to nature- “the dugout in the leaves or weeds beneath a backyard willow, the rivulet of a seasonal creek, even the ditch between the front yard and the road- all of these places are entire universes to a young child. Expeditions to the mountains or national parks often pale, in a child’s eyes, in comparison with the mysteries of the ravine at the end of the cul de sac” Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv.
Wilderness is important, but few get to go there. We need to nurture and live amongst everyday, common nature. I make playgrounds for a living and am trying to pilot a natural, adventurous playspace for Totnes, based on the wild green examples I’ve seen in Holland. A place on the doorstep for local kids, for making dens, fires, cooking, getting messy and hanging out.
Teach your kids to love the real wilderness just round the corner, not the image of one on their flat screen. Invest time and energy in that rather than in great electronic entertainment.
Please get in touch if you’re interested in a natural playspace for Totnes.

Marmaduke Dando
22 May 5:13pm

This is a horrific outlook, and I strongly disagree with this vulgarian. I would rather bring up human children depressed but aware of the source of their sadness, than some mindlessly happy RoboKid jacked up centralised entertainment systems.

And I don’t believe that we have to be overly depressed to be aware either. Sure, it gets us down, it gets me down a lot, but I still feel alive. That I am thankful for.

We must and will look for happiness in other areas if we can’t find it in the wilderness, but this does not need to be in the soma pushed by global corporations.

Rejection, not submission.

Mick Mack
22 May 5:32pm

I agree with all of what’s been said above.

This kind of message from Randers and others like him – Lovelock comes to mind – is that they have already given up and do not have an acceptable alternative vision; nor do they wish to strive for a world which is both more conducive to health and well-being and profoundly enjoyable. These attempts at foretelling are also obviously based on the assumption that a more intelligent relationship with the rest of nature won’t ensue. Not under Capitalism I believe, but another economic/political system. This is out of fear and despondency with what is. That’s their choice.

I reject this dystopian nihilism and opt for working with others to keep and work with the wilderness we have and encourage more of the same and help in encouraging kids appreciate that without the willingness and ability to share the planet with the rest of the Natural world, life would be very sterile and very dull. Not an attractive prospect.

It’s oh so reminiscent of Brave New World.

michael Dunwell
22 May 5:47pm

I engaged with Transition because it offered action, at last, in the cause of evolved life which seemed to be threatened by human behaviour. Teilhard de Chardin said that Man is evolution become conscious. This places a responsibility on us which is awe-inspiring. Would it help Jorgen Randers to consider that we actually ARE the wilderness?

Marcin Gerwin
22 May 6:11pm

OMG, this is really a horrible piece of advice that Jorgen Randers gave. If the publisher of his book is reading this by chance, an immediate amendment would be strongly recommended ;) It seems to me that we should do quite opposite – teaching children to love nature is a number one thing we should do if we wish they would take care of the environment. Wilderness can be found even in the cities, it doesn’t have to be a very large piece of forest. It can be a small patch of trees that is left unmanaged, it can be a natural meadow.

Here is an article by Richard Louv that you may find interesting:
http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/240/

Chrissie Godfrey
22 May 6:11pm

One of the things that makes us human is our capacity to appreciate beauty. It comes in a multitude of forms (some made by us) but there is nothing like being able to lose ourselves in the wonder of a sunset, to be swept away by dappling forest light, to be stopped dead in our tracks by the sight of a single butterfly, or a bird in flight. I would be fascinated to know what proportion of people equate the delight in beauty with a delight in the natural world (bet it’s a lot).

Nothing will stop me loving – and needing – that kind of beauty. I think we are a lucky bunch to have the David Attenboroughs of this world open us up to its wonders, treading lightly themselves as they go and hopefully teaching us to value what we have (without us having to go there too to see its beauty). But I see wilderness pretty much everywhere, including in the town where I live. It is in the unexpected corners and cracks, the derelict sites, the urban river banks, the unruly fringes to the places we try to organise into tidyness. Wilderness lies in the detail of things as well as in the bigger picture.

My teenage son takes the piss of me and my Transitiony stuff, but I know he loves that we grow stuff, that we live in a weirdly wildernessy part of the middle of town, that he can cycle to school along the river bank. And that he can come home to play on his computer. It isn’t “either/or” for our young friends with nature and technology, but maybe “yes/and”.

While weeds have the strength to crack open tarmac, while jungle can take over my allotment when I turn my back for a moment, I am optimistic about the future, Optimistic about my son being a decent, kind person who loves beauty too, and I will certainly love the beauty of my own little bit of wilderness till the day I die.

Gunnar Rundgren
22 May 6:56pm

It seems to me that the error he, and also most commentors make is to pitch “the loneliness of the untouched wilderness” against a “walkman world”. As Mike rightly points out, nature is not mostly the untouched wilderness. As a matter of fact, even before the industrial revolution, humans’ impact on the landscape was immense. England was largely deforested already thousand years ago, the Schwartzwald (Black Forest) has been cultivated land many times in history. Even in sparsely populated Scandinavia, where Randers and myself are coming there was little untouched wilderness two hundred years ago. What is seen as wild are landscapes shaped by Sami people or fishermen for centuries. The same goes for the Savannah. Some claim that most of the Amazon was part of long slash and burn cycles and more populated than today, before the conquistadors.

I have seen the love of untouched wilderness being turned against local communities, living in what others perceive as wild. Rich people engaged in eco tourism “consume” the wild myth.

I believe we are better off to look at nature today as a Garden, the Garden Earth, which also is the title of a book which is published in Swedish, soon in Japanese and hopefully in English very soon,
http://gardenearth.blogspot.se/p/garden-earth.html

We should realise that there is hardly no real wilderness; that we are PART of nature and therefore nature is Part of us.

I certainly have no sympathy for the dystopian scenario of teaching our kids to love the subway, the shop queues, the traffic, the dust, the lack of sun. Perhaps it is just a “conversion under the gallow”? Making the best out of what we have is also a human speciality, which is why we were able to spread all over the globe in the first place, and even survive death camps with humanity somehow intact. But that is certainly no reason to cherish the mega-city environment.

Gunnar Rundgren
22 May 7:01pm

I also realise that many of the commentors use “nature”, “wildlife” and “wilderness” as more or less equal. For a Scandinavian, wild life in a city has nothing to do with wilderness, but a lot to do with nature. Perhaps Randers comment should be read with that in mind Rob (haven’t read the book as yet)?

Bart Andesrson
22 May 7:34pm

Authentic sorrow is a noble human emotion. It brings out the best in us. To hell with narcotized contentment.

I wonder if Randers made those remarks to get a reaction, rather than because he really believes them.

Sid
22 May 7:45pm

Sounds to me like a bloke who doesn’t get out enough to really understand the power of nature connection.

Steve Last
22 May 8:18pm

My first reaction to this was dismay.

Then I thought about the idea of ‘wilderness’. The UK has virtually no areas of wilderness remaining aside from a few remote parts of the Scottish highlands, and I was thinking that in 2012, we have a large proportion of children and adults who have no real understanding of ‘wilderness’. There is almost a mythical quality to it already.

Whilst we have national parks and all the rest, they are environments that have been shaped by humans. We can love them, but they are not wilderness in the true sense of the word, which is an environment unalterred by humans.

What Randers seems to be suggesting though is more fundamental and an even greater shift in humans disconnecting from our environment. That is the most disturbing part for me.

My fear is that we already have relics of wilderness in nature reserves, zoos and even the Millennium Seed Bank. Once the ecosystem has been destroyed, we can’t rebuild it. The direction of travel towards 2052 suggests that the biodiversity that remains will increasingly be shaped by human needs and demands.

What we can teach our children is a love of nature and what we have around us – not wilderness but retaining a wild element that even humans can never completely destroy or remove. Even a derelict city site soon becomes colonised by plants if left undisturbed long enough.

Jürgen
22 May 9:38pm

Michael Dunwell hit the nail. We live in wilderness, the problem the metaphisical one is that we asume that we are separate stuff from nature. Some say that we must “retun to nature” Are we in a space ship? Is the deep change inside our souls that will help us. I think is so difficult but the change is like the flick of a switch. tecnology must be in our help, to learn, to enjoy, to connect and help others, but as all man made is useful while it works otherwise is junk. A tree for instance left alone sinks carbon, cleans our air, and maybe heats our home.

Regards

Paul Andersen
22 May 10:03pm

Perhaps this forecast is in error, as are many forecasts. Still, it is a chilling notion that could spur an opposite reaction. One can only hope.

Kristina
22 May 11:32pm

What a thoroughly defeatist viewpoint. It reminds me of people I try to talk to about these issues whose reponse is “Well, there’s nothing we can do about it so why even bother?” Might as well crawl under a rock and die.
The author of this article can raise his children glued to the television and addicted to video games if he chooses to. I, on the other hand will continue to raise my son on our farm with his animals, fresh air and connection to the ecosphere which sustains him and will hopefully provide him with some purpose in his life.

Kelly Ryan
23 May 2:50am

I don’t see the logic in this prediction. We depend on the services the ecosystem provides for us. At some point, if we continue down this path, we will severely limit the capacity of the planet to support us. If we don’t curtail our urbanization, we will doom ourselves. We lack the capacity to provide the services Nature provides us. I foresee a drastic correction before such a world could occur.

To address the spiritual: Chrissie Godfrey said, above, something approaching my view of the world. I need nature to remind me of my place in the world. Nature, in its beauty, teaches me humility..that is, it teaches me I have limits. Without those limits, my pride would allow me to commit atrocities toward Nature. So, teaching my children to love the manmade world, so as to not to grieve the natural world becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Should we do so, we are truly doomed. The planet, probably not so. Given a few millennia without the blight of a dysfunctional type of human, it would heal itself, I think. Niches abandoned by extinct species would be filled by new species. I hope our species learns humility before it makes itself extinct.

John Andersen
23 May 2:53am

Don’t know the answer to this, but do know that the skill of finding peace no matter what is a precious skill; one to be nurtured, modeled, and taught.

Brad K.
23 May 5:42am

I like JMG’s advice, to begin living the skills and life choices likely to be available after the American empire slides deep into it’s final decline. Gardening, smithing, living near work and community, designing for passive energy homes rather than bigger heaters, etc.

I can see that advice to urbanize your kids would apply to most children. As remaining undeveloped areas shrink, fewer people are able to grasp and touch nature. Those that retain contact should be living in touch with nature, and teaching those values to their children — but fewer families have that opportunity. Recall that it takes 2 farmers today, in American agribusiness, to feed those it used to take 50 farmers. That means 1 in 25 of those original farm families retain a connection to the farm. That trend hasn’t reversed itself notably.

On the other hand, I think that green roofs, gardens in vacant lots, front and back yards, decks, patios, and window sills are reaching a lot of people that haven’t had dirt under their fingernails in generations.

I recall as well that when farms were smaller and family enterprises, farmers fell into a less-respected class of society. This author may just be limiting his vision to those of the class he envisions himself in, and disregarding those that grow and produce food, and live close to nature. Even if it isn’t virgin wilderness.

ceridwen
23 May 8:13am

I have a horrible feeling that he is right – certainly for countries like England. I’ve been horrified to realise recently that Norway has 5 million people, Greece – 12 million I believe. BUT poor old England has over 40 million and still being allowed to grow – EEK! So – just how the heck anyone in a country like England can manage to get their “wilderness fix” NOW is very problematic – never mind mid-century.

People vary obviously and I doubt some people would care that much if they didnt see any wilderness/other countryside from one year to the next and it wouldnt affect them. Others of us – of a different frame of mind – need access to countryside as much as we need food and drink and it hurts at a very deep level to see more and more “countryside” being built on on the one hand and more and more people trying to cram into what countryside we have left for “recreational purposes” on the other hand (thus destroying the solitude that is part of what we are seeking there).

So – I DO agree we should teach people to respect wilderness/the countryside generally and that it is vital to do so. For myself personally – I admit to having lost hope that anyone will try to curb the growth in population (be it at a government level – stopping the flood of immigrants trying to clamber into our “sinking lifeboat” – or at a personal level of thinking “I’d like more than 2 children – but I know it would be selfish to do so – so I’ll stop at 2 – rather than pleading that the 3rd/4th/etc was an accident or my right”. With all that blindness on the part of our Government (of whatever persuasion) and selfishness on the part of many people – then I don’t think those of us who have this as our native country and arent selfish enough to have more than 2 children stand a “hope in hell” of not getting “trampled over” by everyone else being determined to do as they please regardless.

I feel very scared that the selfish/hard/short-sighted type of person will win and consign the rest of us to Concrete City.

Annie Leymarie
23 May 12:43pm

Mike Jones: Great! – but let’s make the play space in Totnes for adults too!
There is one wilderness we could still all have access to – the sky – but in urban areas this requires turning the lights off at night. And to turn the lights off we need to turn people on to the wonders of natural light and darkness. Surprisingly difficult – even though it makes sense on every level.
Let’s keep going, one inner light bulb at a time!

Philip
23 May 12:55pm

Such a deeply concerning thought. Without any true wilderness, mankind will lose any ability to reminds itself of what it means to be truly disconnected and understand where the journey of civilisation has taken us. Wowee it a slippery slide down when we have eliminated all these reference points.

Marcus Draper
23 May 1:47pm

For me what he’s really saying is there’s no hope. As you wouldn’t want your children to become too distressed by it all provide them with distractions and develop a culture of escapism.

No thanks Jorgen, I prefer to teach my children to face up to things, that nature is the life giver, and there is hope!

Greenpa
23 May 3:31pm

2 points to offer. It’s worth investigating who the person is, making the controversial argument. Google is great for that. Randers’s Wikipedia entry notes that a) he’s a Norwegian business oriented academic, and b) one of the Boards he sits on is- Dow Chemical.

Not that we want to be guilty of racial profiling… but… :-)

Sorry, but yes- “serving” Dow Chemical makes his mental processes suspect, to me. That and- a great many folks do find the over-all Norwegian world view to lean strongly towards dark doom. I struggled through “Kristin Lavransdatter” – still revered as a great work- and have to say that’s an easy opinion to come to.

So; my quick and total response to Randers – “Oh, malarky.”

Bill Blondeau
23 May 3:45pm

This entire discussion thread seems improbably ridiculous.

Isn’t the premise of Transition that “the bustling life of the megacity” – in particular the technocratic kind of organization that Randers clearly envisions – has simply faded out of the realm of the possible?

Oh, granted, the world may see such cities for a while as a last efflorescence of industrial culture, especially in some of the more prosperous Asian regions. Those won’t last very long though, and won’t encompass too many people. Such a society would be terribly vulnerable, always on defense, playing whack-a-mole with Liebig’s Law. Deterioration would set in pretty damn quickly, I think.

The vast majority of surviving humanity on the planet will be living as subsistence farmers and pastoralists, not industrialists. And among the least stable, the poorest, the most desperate, of these outsider populations would be (if history is any guide) a fair number of tough warrior cultures trying to muddle through by predation and ferocity. These would probably be the people who overwhelm the last of the technocratic megacities (perhaps after a stint as foederati.) This is such an old, well-worn pattern…

Will we make a mess of the world’s wilderness and destroy most of the best remaining glories of Gaia? Sure. We’ve been doing it all along and it seems impossible to stop.

Will our children and grandchildren be, in consequence, trapped within Concrete City (as ceridwen neatly dubs the sterile artificial environments of massive alienation) “with never-ending music piped into their ears”? Hell no, simply because those things will no longer be workable. Our near descendants will be denied pristine wilderness, but they will surely not be denied a close association with nature.

Those descendants will be living and working as scavenger/reclaimers, farmers, herdsmen, gardeners, bandits, musicians, politicians, craftsmen, medics, prostitutes, farriers, migrant laborers, drifters, warehousers, pickpockets, hired thugs, weavers, tavernkeepers, teachers, boatbuilders, storytellers, and moonshiners. This isn’t going to be Trantor, folks. It’s going to be more like Deadwood, with less exquisite dialogue for the most part. At best, initiatives like Transition will make some of those ongoing lives better and preserve more of the human cultural artifacts and principles we cherish.

There’s much to worry about, and so much onrushing loss and ruin to grieve over. I’m gobsmacked to see so many clearly smart people worrying about something that seems, for better or for worse, simply unattainable given our present constraints and terrible momentum.

Shane Hughes
23 May 7:55pm

Untouched wilderness is laregely a gonna… although Brazil reported a 70% reduction in deforestation last year :) not sure i believe it fully though but positive all the same. Wilderness is finite on a heavely populated small planet so we’ll struggle to hold on to pockets that will likely become tourist centres/parks. There’s growth in man made wilderness with some very sizeable and serious rewilding projects but i’m not sure about access to these? However, with agroforestry and vertical urban agriculture etc my vision of the future is one where nature will be all around us. My children most certainly are tuaght to love nature and i have no doubt they will grow connected to it.

PO'ed Gen Y'er
23 May 9:51pm

I hate it when members of the older generation – the generation this clown Randers belongs to, the one that had a chance to really change things and blew it – become nihilistic and cynical, basically telling us young people that the planet is finished and we might as well enjoy our little techno-utopia while it lasts. It makes my blood boil with rage, actually – they could have done something, they sold out, and most of them will die before experiencing the consequences of their failure. Meanwhile, we are told that we just have to live with their mistakes.

Well, I call BS. And I would rather die than see the ongoing desecration of the world – from which I am not separate – continue. I will fight with every fiber of my being for wilderness and for wild spaces. F*** his “megacity” and his headphones – give the forest and birdsong over his concrete-digitalitalized hell.

And by the way, where is all the energy going to come from to power these “mega-cities”? What on earth makes Randers think a highly urbanized environment is sustainable? Even if we go there, we are just kicking the can further down the road, and it will be my generation’s children that will have to deal with the problems. Implicit in Randers’ analysis is the presumption that we, the young people, will behave the way his narcissistic generation did – that we, too, will fail, because his generation failed, and if they failed there’s simply no way we could do any better.

Boomers like Randers are the very pinnacle of narcissism, and as I said it makes my blood boil to hear his nihilistic garbage.

If we are going to save this world, it will be when all of the Boomers and most of Gen X are dead and burred.

Tony Buck
24 May 1:30am

It sounds like irony to me; or even sarcasm!
Anyway, recently John Jeavons just gave a talk to the Google staff and said there will not be any top soil in 49 years if we carry on with business as usual. So if everyone stays in the Matrix, there probably won’t be anyone to fill those megacities or watch those entertainment centers! And I was worried about peak oil! Try peak soil.
Jeavons’s talk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afHd9EhsJ1U

Kristina
24 May 7:51am

Nice one PO’d Gen Y’er! I agree. I too am mighty annoyed at the boomers. They sucked down the resources and have left a god awful mess for us to deal with. I’m busting a gut to provide my son with some kind of future, and his grandparents sit in their comfortable suburban home saying there’s nothing they could possibly do to help us. “Sorry kids, you’re on your own.” Yeah….nice…..thanks.

Greenpa
24 May 4:12pm

PO’ed – I like it! :-)

Amanda
25 May 10:25am

Slagging off ‘boomers’ is pointless; there are many of us who have been campaigning since our teens, are as horrified as non boomers at the state of the world, are active in the sustainability stakes,and who are also deeply concerned about our children and grandchildren and their uncertain future. It is not when you are born that is the issue, it is what you do with excessive wealth.
Wishing the older generation dead is just ignorant.

Kristina
25 May 11:41am

Amanda, I’ve been watching this whole thing play out since I was in my teens twenty years ago. I spent 12 years actively campaigning with the environmental movement until I reached a point where I felt like I was wasting my time, bashing my head against a brick wall.
Seeing the state of the world today and knowing it could have been prevented leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth and I’m more than a little bitter.
The real salt in the wound comes from trying to let the older members of my family understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, and being met with everything from “mental illness” diagnones to being accused of abandoning THEM.
I can really understand where the anger comes from.
Maybe things won’t start to turn around until the Boomer generation starts to fade away. They still vote. They still control vast amounts of what’s left of family wealth. And they’re sitting on it! Instead of utilising it for the betterment of their descendents. I find that damn selfish.
I know there are those of your generation who have never given up. But most of them did, and sold their children out along the way.

Michelle
25 May 2:14pm

Better to have loved and lost.

Brad K.
25 May 4:05pm

I was too you for the “summer of love”. Just.

What I recall is that the dropouts and hippies of the time were spouting mantras of free love — and tearing down society, so that afterwards, trust them, they would build a better one.

Some few dropped out, lived in communes, scavenged off an affluent society as a way of life (how sustainable that was . .)

JMG at ArchDruidReport contends that protests and movement accomplish little — when the participants don’t actually, fundamentally, change their lives.

The hippies of the Sixties disrupted a bunch of stuff. For a while. They abandoned the culture of their parents, for a cornucopia of utopian dreams. Most turned in their tye-dies, and dropped back into “normal” society. The hold outs? Those that actually lived a meager, sustainable, reverent life? They are still there. Their neighbors value them, mostly. They are still examples of different ways to live, and as time goes by, have more impact on their local economy and local culture.

One contention is that as time goes by, as economies continue to crumble (they have to, the process of generating wealth by consuming resources is up against a brick wall, limiting how much wealth is going to be available in the future), that response to protests will migrate from tolerance to atrocious, brutal suppression, as China saw not that long ago, as other nations have expressed themselves on dissent.

“Peaceful” protest is a luxury of an affluent society. Changing the way one chooses to live changes the lives of one’s progeny, and affects their neighbors, family, and community, as an enduring example and resource.

Besides, “protesting” uses emotional or physical force to make others behave contrary to their own values and culture. There is much in common between bullies and other authoritarian governments, and outright bloody terrorists. Taking responsibility for your own choices means that at least one or a few folk will continue the choice after the fear and force are removed.

PO'ed Gen Y'er
25 May 9:31pm

Amanda, just to clarify, I’m not wishing death on anyone. I’m saying that until your generation dies out and is no longer holding the reins of power, I don’t expect much to change.

It’s a sentiment similar to the one uttered by quantum physicist Max Planck when he noted “Science advances one funeral at a time.”

And the fact is, the present state of the world and the shape our society owes a great deal to the Boomers. When you are born is very much an issue, because your generation had access to numerous opportunities, privileges, and power that mine does not have access to and most likely never will have access to (the pretensions of some in the Occupy Movement aside). And the generations that come after us will have access to even less. These inequalities are precisely due to the accident of birth – you were born on side of Hubbart’s peak, and used the advantages accordingly; I and my generation were born on the other side, and have to live with the consequences of your decisions.

So it’s frustrating to see that Boomers could have done so much, by and large did not, and are now trying to foist responsibility onto us. I am not discounting your personal actions, but by and large your generation sold out, and has thrown us and a great deal of the biosphere under the bus. Then we have people like Randers or Lovelock shrugging their shoulders about the whole mess and saying it’s not going to get any better so we might as well get used to it.

Hopefully this will put my generation’s still-simmering rage into perspective.

Kristina
25 May 9:49pm

This could very well become a generational conflict. And I for one will be fighting for my son and his children, I already am.

Brad K.
25 May 9:53pm

@ PO’ed Gen Y’er,

I was thinking about something similar yesterday. At WalMart I noticed a nearly grown tomato plant in a large container. Fruit was already set on the vine, the cost was $10 or $12 US. That is, there is no way that the cost of the plant would ever equal the value of the tomato purchases it might be intended to replace.

But then I thought, you know, there are a lot of people that aren’t gardening today, have never had to judge when the tomato is ripe enough to pick and enjoy, or to preserve. And this lets them get started.

I doubt that everyone that buys one of these expensive substitutes for learning to garden and grow your own food will proceed to something useful in their lives. But someone, or their children or neighbors, might get a bit closer to a life-change that does make the community and neighborhood a better place.

And I think that is much more positive, to help and watch people consider change, start learning skills that will be useful.

Blessed be, with your waiting.

Mike Grenville
28 May 5:09pm

A new film called PLAY AGAIN investigates the consequences of a childhood removed from nature and encourages action for a sustainable future.
http://playagainfilm.com/

ceridwen
28 May 7:47pm

Whew! Surprised – and discouraged – to see that “Boomer Bashing” has surfaced here as well.

No one generation (my own – yep…a Baby Boomer), the one before us, the one after us, etc has the monopoly on “right thinking/right action” as regards the environment. One could turn round and point out that there seem to be a lot of the next generation down from mine that have gone ahead and had more than 2 children/that expect more than one car per household/etc.

I dont actually think its helpful to divide people up and label them as one generation or another. People are people – regardless of the generation they were born into. In every generation there will be the selfish (exercising their supposed “rights” to have more than 2 children/to consume as much of the world’s resources as their income allows them to/etc) on the one hand. On the other hand will be those who “live lightly on the earth”.

So – speaking personally – dont blame this particular Baby Boomer. I didnt have ANY children at all/I’ve never had a car/I check out whether any potential house I might buy was built on greenfield sites since the Immigration Floodgates were thrown wide open in Britain and wouldnt buy one that new/I’ve given up flying on principle (though I could count the number of return flights I’ve had on one hand) and I’m vegetarian. So – here’s one Boomer trying to “do her bit” and I’m sure there will be plenty more of us like me in my generation. On the other hand – I’m sure there will be plenty in the next generation that have “surplus” children/a 2-car household and think nothing of flying off on holiday regularly.

So – speak as you find – as age is just a number.

Marcus Draper
29 May 9:48am

I think it is crucial that we don’t fall into the “ism” trap. Whilst segregating people into groups for the purpose of identifying patterns and trends is ok, when taken too far it seems that humans start to place more value on their own group/s and less on others. History shows this can lead to animosity and sometimes conflict.

Learning to decouple the value you place on someone from their behaviourial patterns would seem to me to be a good skill to develop. That way it becomes easier to discuss difficult subjects without them thinking you are questioning their worthiness as a human being.

We are where we are. Playing the blame game only hinders the development of solutions.

Kristina
30 May 11:58am

I’m surprised at the surprise that this issue has come up. Surely anyone watching this evolve could see the potential for some damn annoyed young people? If not, then maybe this is a wake up call about what to expect in the future.
I for one, can see massive potential for a lashback from the younger generation. Their future has been crapped on. Do you really expect the majority of them to take it gracefully with compassion and understanding?
In the real world people get pissed off. The worse things get the more young people will resent the older generation. This is not ideal , but it’s reality.

Marcus Draper
30 May 1:54pm

Hi Kristina, agree with you on the anger building amongst younger people, though I think it is not exclusive to them. I don’t think anger is bad in itself as a feeling of anger can be the initial motivation behind a positive change or a destructive act. Its how its channelled that counts.

If there is a wave of anger coming would that not present an opportunity to capture some of the energy contained within the wave for positive purposes?

Brad K.
30 May 3:30pm

@ Marcus Draper,

I expect there is someone that figures they can make money, or garner power over others, by instigating so-called “unrest” by young people. Or those that see people with money as the enemy. Or those angry that others are destroying the atmosphere.

Wars, typically, are fought for money, after all. Political campaigns, merchandising for various commercial and retail products, even memberships in faithful congregations all present a plausible enemy, promise a plan to defeat the enemy, and claim the benefit of leading the way. It has worked for years.

So, I expect that young people absolutely, at some point, will follow rabble rousers to express “anger” at the dragon du jour. That doesn’t mean that the dragon doesn’t exist, or that opposition isn’t warranted.

But public demonstrations seldom benefit anyone actually involved. Well, widespread looting might garner some keepsakes but, still.

I mind me the youth of the 1960s drug and sex culture, rejecting authority. They caused various disruption then, too. I see few monuments to their successes. Devastated lives still linger today, that have abandoned the “tear down the evil military-industrial complex” and “make love not war” strategy of scavenging the fringes of an increasingly affluent (military-industrial complex fueled) society.

Woodstock was an outstanding success of Americans building a new society of benevolence and tolerance that nurtured all the protesting “hippies”.

With social media instigating various acts of derring-do (and property destruction), impromptu gatherings that so easily become rank thuggery, and videos contrive to champion any message, I doubt not that we will see protests and anger over just about anything.

On the other hand, if no one sees an opportunity to garner monetary wealth from protests, I doubt they will accomplish much.

Kristina
31 May 7:32am

Hi Marcus. Yes, definately anger can be harnessed for positive outcomes. But I believe this requires understanding of the issues, which in turn requires public discourse on the issues. Without an understanding of the underlying causes of their anger, I think young people will just be expressing anger as wasted energy.
There’s a horrible level of ignorance about so many aspects of the state of the world which I believe is fostered intentionally by certain “status quo” powers. This ignorance means that anger won’t be harnessed constructively. Unfortunately.

Brad K.
31 May 2:51pm

@ Kristina,

There is a difference between ignorance and “you aren’t following the story I heard/am telling”.

It is difficult to sift through conflicting stories to sift out those that are misled, intent on manipulating others with deliberately contrived propaganda, or touting something overcome by events, from a story that is useful. Some things are objectively true, others a matter of perspective.

Ignorant implies that one doesn’t know something important. The truth is that usually they haven’t accepted a story that you have.

As for the ignorance of angry young people, the part that rehabilitated most of the 1960s US hippie generation was work. Jobs. A paycheck, or raising beans and cabbage. When the big money funding the protests and demonstrations evaporated, they gradually accepted that they needed another way.

Note that the OWS crap in the US was provided supplies and transport by labor unions and other organizations. The anger is healthy in a democracy. Funding that anger is anti-social. And breaking the funding loop isn’t about ignorance.

Ruth Fruland
22 Sep 4:43pm

Jorgen Randers is a Norwegian, and Norwegians are famous for being negative and rather cool emotionally (my dad is half Norwegian). Classic joke: Did you hear about the Norwegian who loved his wife so much he almost told her.”Of course, he’s wrong (psychologically) to make this claim, whether he believes it, or intends it to be a spur. The kids are okay, and I expect the current economic model to grind to a halt before wilderness has vanished. Our love and respect for Nature in its myriad forms will only increase in the future, IMHO.

John Andersen
22 Sep 7:38pm

Humans have the capacity to both stare reality in the face, as grim as it is, and still carry on, finding positive space for happiness and fulfillment. This could mean urban gardening, going car-free, embracing classic literature, embracing quality cooking, eating, etc. Our societal expectations should probably be tamed and subjected to reality. Our personal and family expectations, however, need not be as restricted and should not leave out love and passion including that for nature.