Tuesday, 05 March 2013

Apocalypse how?

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I was never that worried about the environment. I knew there were problems. But I figured that we’d faced environmental problems before and we’d always found a way through. I reassured myself that we hadn’t wiped ourselves out before by messing up the environment.

That was until I read Jared Diamond’s book ‘Collapse’. In it, Diamond shares story after story of civilisations who thought the same until it was too late and they vanished. I particularly remember the people of Easter Island who cut down all the trees in order to move the large statues they had made. Once the trees were gone, the animals died. A thousand years later, all that was left on Easter island were some statues and a mystery as to where the people had gone. Diamond knew the answer: they’d wiped themselves out by cutting down all the trees.

It is just as easy to feel complacent at the increasing segregation in our country between income brackets, ethnicities and generations. Surely it will sort itself out. I mean we haven’t wiped ourselves out before by social division.

Except of course we have. Most civilisations that ‘Collapse’ are not due to environmental segregation but social degradation. They start with divisions between people groups.

I’m the last to claim that it is two minutes to midnight. Our country is a wonderful place to live and with the right approach to unity our best days are yet to come. And yet, sometimes it is useful to be reminded that complacency doesn’t lead you anywhere good.

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