The Apocalypse has Four Horsemen: climate change, habitat destruction, industrial agriculture, and poverty. Each Horseman holds a whip called Growth in his hand. None can be stopped unless all are stopped.
A quote from the comments of a must-read WorldChanging.com post by Alex Steffen. I have my disagreements with some of his attitudes, but reading this I realize the disagreements are minor compared to the common ground. Alex is right on the mark here.
We look at the current debate on climate change and find a little relief in the fact that the scientific basis for it, the reality of the matter at hand, is no longer a debate; all that is debated now is how to tackle it. Steffen points out that this is just one aspect of the problem we face, and too narrow a focus on it—however important it is in itself—will leave us prey to the kind of thinking that got us into this mess in the first place.
We still need to build another consensus; one that will inevitably entail subsequent debates about how we approach the issue, but as with climate change, we need to reach a basic agreement about the reality of the matter. This reality is the complexity, subtlety, dense interconnectedness, and multiplicity of the world we live in. Ecological thinking, where any narrow focus is merely a temporary expedient, and where appreciation of delicately interwoven, mutually influential patterns is the core, needs to become widespread, quickly.
Any regulars here will know that I feel the root of our blindness in this matter is found in the suppression of polytheistic animism by monotheism, and that, without “going back”, we need to re-awaken this archaic heritage, to pour this aged wine into the skins we wield these days, in order to dissolve the hardened, blinkered inheritance of the One God. This reduction of the world has been perpetuated by the linear causality models of science. Endless, pointless debates about whether X or Y or Z causes something… with a quiet voice somewhere trying to suggest that each is a factor.
It’s time for that quiet voice to become louder.