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Whistling in the dark or daring to dream?

By Duco Delgorge

“Often I think this sad old world is whistling in the dark…” These are the opening words of the theme song from the 1970 movie “Darling Lili,” sung by Julie Andrews. Although I was 10 years old at the time, the words (and melody) have stuck in my mind. The words still perfectly describe our present dilemma and, I expect, will continue to do so. The song gravitates between melancholy and hope, but appropriately, never takes us beyond this point.

Thirty years later, at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Olivia Newton-John and John Farnham sang “Dare to Dream.” Most of us can imagine athletes dreaming about winning a gold medal, but when it comes to dreaming about a better world, nearly all of us are left at the starting line, wondering which way to face, let alone run.

Should we feel concerned about the future? Read more in Insight by Duco Delgorge, founder of MIE PROJECT Co Ltd, a leading supplier of top quality organic, natural and fair trade products in Japan.

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I respect and support organic goods, natural goods and fair trade. These are all good things. But they are minor in the scheme of wanting to actually change things.

If your statement above suggests that you and others with to change the world for the better, these minor steps will not get you there.

The world needs substantial change, including the very urgent issues below.

Climate: We must immediately take steps to reverse our impact upon the climate. Not small steps but major significant lifestyle changes for the entire developed and developing world.

Energy: Peak Oil will soon be the root cause of countless conflicts, poverty and economic decline. We must reduce consumption, preserve remaining supplies while investing intensively in alternatives.

Water and Food: Much of the world goes without enough of either of these. Yet solutions exist to both problems.

Poverty: 1% of the world control 40% of the resources. Most people on earth live in abject poverty. This balance must be changed.

You won't like the answers that are necessary to provide real change. But here are some.

End Consumerism: Consumerism creates much of our energy, resource and envirionmental problems. We cannot continue to live a life of disposable products, excessive energy use or the accumulation of "stuff." Sustainable and more practical usage of resources and goods is required to stem the damage caused by raw consumerism.

Economic Remapping: The global economy must evolve towards a more sustainable and balanced model. The alternative is continued global conflict and increasingly difficult lives for most of the global population. You will call me red for this, but some redistribution of wealth is absolutely necessary as a benefit to the legions of poor as well as for the greater long term welfare of those who have wealth today.

Political Change: Nationalism must give way to a greater sense of global political integration. We share the same environmental and energy fate as a shared human race. National borders will not protect us from these issues. We must think more as a unified human population and pursue political change to realize this objective.

Localize: We should localize our economies. This is where your natural and organic efforts play a role. Local production of the goods and services needed locally will preserve energy, reduce consumerism and provide a more sustainable economic and environmental model for humanity.

So how do you do this?

Political, social and intellectual activism. Not the "I buy organic so I am changing things illusion." But the "I am active in political groups who are working hard to bring about change" approach is required. How we vote, how we spend our money as consumers, how we behave with energy and the environment, how we work in out communities to change things and how we view the world. We must share the message, work for REAL change and never give up until it is realized.

Then you can start to truly dream and stop whistling in the dark.

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so what is this article for? An introduction, talk about a song and then "go there to read" ... ?

Moderator: Please click on the Insight link to read the rest of the story.

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Most people have little awareness of how the world is going to revolutionise in the near future. Many technologists are predicting that based upon current progress, within 20 years we will start seeing nano replication technology that will be create on-demand products (and even recycle existing products to create new ones etc. How this will impact on the world economy and developing countries remains to be seen. Most likely the technology involved will be extremely expensive and the successful companies will be the ones to offer the most precise products etc.

The information revolution of the 90s is only the beginning in comparison, and we'll be seeing vastly new ways of improving our lot, as well as drawbacks and challenges thrown up. Biotechnology and computer processing ability are going to be another area which continue to amaze and provide solutions to problems. Providing renewable energy will continue to become cheaper for everyday use, while existing nuclear/hydro power generation will continue to provide power for the heavy industries. I'm also a fan of the European Space Agency and Japanese Space Agency's(JAXA)ideas to put solar collecting arrays in orbit, which would beam massive amounts of power to stations on the ground (in specially designed no-go zones which wouldn't be much different from existing military laser/communication bases which would fry civilian aircraft that could be unlucky enough to somehow fly through).

While I don't think we'll reach a true 'free-for-all technocracy' like something envisioned in Star Trek, we're in for some truly amazing changes very soon. By the way, I think the poor of the future will be well off by today's standards but will be disadvantaged in comparison to the ones taking full advantage of developments. I just wonder how society and the legal system will manage to cope in general with the scope of what we're looking at!

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Just another thing on the technology side of things. I'm in my 20s and remember using 5inch floppy disks with 180kb (the size of a decent essay) storage capacity when I was a kid...My high school computing teacher made the point 15 years ago that someone going around in the 80s talking about CD's would've been laughed at as being a nutter. Now, I have a chip the size of my fingernail that stores 8gigabytes of memory in comparison!

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Thank you for your comments so far. This article is the first of a series. The main message here is that we need more people who dare to dream about a better future. Unfortunately, many people are either unaware of the huge challenges we face (several mentioned by tkoind2), sometimes making this choice intentionally. I am sorry if my examples of possible actions seemed trivial; they are simply examples close to home for me. There are almost unlimited things that need to be done. In a future article, I will attempt (with the help of others) to try and identify the biggest threats/challenges we face, and list some actions which could be taken to address these; a tall order indeed.

In the meantime, political leaders, who we count on the most to help us take the right path, are either corrupt, or incapable of taking the right decisions, this being because they are stuck in a corner (the nature of politics) or just because our problems are becoming larger and more complex, beyond our capability to manage. That is why "Whistling in the Dark" is an appropriate analogy. Bottom line, if we are honest with ourselves, we really don't know what needs to be done, or when we think we know, we increasingly realise that what is required cannot be delivered. By "daring to dream" I simply hope to work with others in a long-term mission to be part of the solution. I say this with humility, fully appreciating my own weaknesses and limitations. I hope that more people reach the necessary level of awareness which will be the prerequisite to taking action to collectively steer our way to a world in which our children can enjoy at least the same level of opportunities that our present world offers.

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