To reverse the effects of civilization would destroy the dreams of a lot of people. There's no way around it. We can talk all we want about sustainability, but there's a sense in which it doesn't matter that these people's dreams are based on, embedded in, intertwined with, and formed by an inherently destructive economic and social system. Their dreams are still their dreams. What right do I -- or does anyone else -- have to destroy them.At the same time, what right do they have to destroy the world?
Can we actually suppose that we are wasting, polluting, and making ugly this beautiful land for the sake of patriotism and the love of God? Perhaps some of us would like to think so, but in fact this destruction is taking place because we have allowed ourselves to believe, and to live, a mated pair of economic lies: that nothing has a value that is not assigned to it by the market; and that the economic life of our communities can safely be handed over to the great corporations. (from 'Compromise, Hell!' published in the November/December 2004 issue of ORION magazine)
Sustainability is a new idea to many people, and many find it hard to understand. But all over the world there are people who have entered into the exercise of imagining and bringing into being a sustainable world. They see it as a world to move toward not reluctantly, but joyfully, not with a sense of sacrifice, but a sense of adventure. A sustainable world could be very much better than the one we live in today.
We don't think a sustainable society need be stagnant, boring, uniform, or rigid. It need not be, and probably could not be, centrally controlled or authoritarian. It could be a world that has the time, the resources, and the will to correct its mistakes, to innovate, to preserve the fertility of its planetary ecosystems. It could focus on mindfully increasing quality of life rather than on mindlessly expanding material consumption and the physical capital stock.
Another principle that I believe can be justified by scientific evidence so far is that nobody is going to emigrate from this planet not ever....It will be far cheaper, and entail no risk to human life, to explore space with robots. The technology is already well along....the real thrill will be in learning in detail what is out there...It is an especially dangerous delusion if we see emigration into space as a solution to be taken when we have used up this planet....Earth, by the twenty-second century, can be turned, if we so wish, into a permanent paradise for human beings...
It shouldn't be the consumer's responsibility to figure out what's cruel and what's kind, what's environmentally destructive and what's sustainable. Cruel and destructive food products should be illegal. We don't need the option of buying children's toys made with lead paint, or aerosols with chlorofluorocarbons, or medicines with unlabeled side effects. And we don't need the option of buying factory-farmed animals.