JC, who will remain anonymous, is the most intellectual person I personally know other than my father. He has a profound understanding of the way in which our world works having read over 3,000 books in regards to history, anthropology, sociology and politics and is fluent in 9 languages.
The following letter was originally part of a lengthy discourse between my brother Armand and JC. This has been published with his permission to help you get a dose of reality. I have added my own emphasis and inline links.
I have been trying to put together a few words for you during the past week. Now look at the results, too long a letter. You are helping me to start writing my memories.
The first question regarding sustainability is that our current society is not sustainable at all and we must assume it. This planet and ecosystem can not sustain 9 billion egos, a figure to be reached very soon… This is a matter of simple mathematics.
The Amazon forest is being wiped out as of today, and only the last storm due to deforestation fell 700 million trees there. The oceans are so polluted that the governments in Europe are asking citizens in nation-wide newspapers to please stop eating tuna fish and other ocean species due to very high contents of very toxic heavy metals, especially mercury in their meat; in addition a huge blanket of plastics and hospital waste of all kinds covers the pacific ocean from northern Japan to Hawaii.
People eat mostly packed junk food injected with hydrogenated or transgenic fats, if not coming from frankenseeds. Even “healthy” food, fresh fish, meat, vegetables and fruits are full of pesticides, hormones, heavy metals, you name it.
We are on the way to reach one billion internal combustion vehicles in this planet while India and China are aiming to produce hundreds of millions more. In my own city, Madrid, this winter more than 90 % of all the children below 3 years old have been admitted to emergency rooms due to respiratory problems coming from pollution.
This system is based on a high per capita consumption of energy (oil mostly) since the real currency that makes the world move is not the dollar but the joule, a unit of energy. And the “International Energy Agency” (IEA) has acknowledged a few weeks ago that we have already passed the oil peak. This is going to turn really ugly in 10-15 years.
You can refer to “The economic history of world population” by Berkeley university professor Carlo Cipolla, a very interesting book and easy to read. And you can also watch the documentary “Collapse” with Michael Ruppert (2009) if you feel like it. These are serious and reliable contrasted scientific reports, no monkey business.
Humankind faces three crises simultaneously: The end of nonrenewable energy reserves, the hopeless deterioration of our environment (air, soil and water) and a steady decline in biological diversity.
And the only hope they say is biotechnology. Manipulation of genes and chromosomes of human species and other species of plants and animals. In the year 2010 more than 50% of the new kids born among the Californian celebrities were coming from embryos manipulated and grown in surrogate wombs. Brave new world is here.
Our world is at the verge of a great transformation and millions if not billions are not going to make it in the developing nations, very simple, and in the developed nations only a high degree and good education is going to open the door to an independent and decent life. Please mark my words.
This is the menu of today and we must face it with a serene mind and a comforted soul.
Many are uneasy and feel the urge to change the course but do not know what to do and many sensitive people feel utterly lost while facing this discouraging scenario.
Endless events, performances, shows, gatherings, meetings, seminars, communes, societies, organizations… different manifestation of “the spirit of our times” appear like champignons after the rain.
Now, there are a large number of these sects and organizations… with their own agenda which is very often just to brainwash people and with the sole purpose to turn into plain profit the goodwill of gullible young chaps, of dislocated individuals and lost souls… all of them promised an ethereal new land of consciousness and other intangible and unreal alternative societies, promising perfect utopias projected, planned and put into practice with the single power of concentration.
Some come to believe that sitting with eyes closed and repeating AUMMMMM is going to be determinant so that all of a sudden this grim reality is going to turn into bliss and our minds are going to generate the energy that we need and that flowers are going to spontaneously blossom among the accumulated dirt and trash which is going to vanish. (please in the meantime contribute with your despised dirty greenbacks to the common cause).
In that respect the United States was before and is nowadays, sadly, a pioneering force; and California is a particularly fertile seed-bed for eccentric cults and worshipers of soap bubbles while in the lotus position.
Again, we are going to see many meaningful events in the years to come because we can not continue for much longer on this track but no matter what happens in the near future each person has to assume his own responsibilities on a daily basis and towards himself and towards others.
Do your best and expect the worst, but above all do not live in a state of permanent fear. Fear is not healthy and tends to unbalance the mind.
We are surrounded by contradictions…
For instance a number of people choose to become vegetarians or vegans, anxious to protect the nature and willing to avoid inflicting pain to living beings or to share with others the food delivered by shrinking fertile soil.
But our nature is not vegetarian and you just need to put a small child in front of different dishes and see its choice, meat. Furthermore, vegetarianism is a habit of underdeveloped societies where many could not afford animal proteins and have to manage to find a balance to survive without meat dishes (short lifespan though). This survival technique now turns into a fashion for wealthy westerners anxious to join the last “millennium” trend. Meat is necessary to the normal functioning of your body and to better brain performance yet not in excess.
To some extent it is possible to find a balance for vegetarians in tropical nations but never ever in the northern hemisphere and this statement any anthropologist can explain to you. It is simply that we do not have the broad assortment of fruits and vegetables, tubers and other products to make it feasible. Ahhh, we can import them, right; then we can bring to the next-door store fruits and vegetables from Africa, Asia and Oceania to fulfill our caprice of being vegetarian.
At which cost Armand? Third world countries producing luxurious vegetarian foods for us while they starve; seaweed transported by plane; ships and trucks burning tons of fossil fuels and polluting the air just to deliver to the supermarket that Tibetan berry or that Chinese mushroom.
Great and very sustainable and very ecological!
In regards to this idea of sustainability separate from modern society, I have visited some self sustaining communities in northern Spain, in the province of Burgos, whole families have moved to abandoned middle ages stone buildings in towns, middle of nowhere.
First of all a self sustaining commune requests a lot of physical extenuating work to do all the maintenance tasks of houses and stables, to cultivate vegetables, herd goats and sheep. Not everybody has the ability or the physical strength or the knowledge. Believe me, it is really hard.
Then, when the winter comes you need some heating, especially if you have kids and then you have to buy gas or petrol, whether you like it or not. Kids need a school and every human being needs medical assistance; it is impossible to have a hospital with surgeons inside a self sustaining community. Also you need a computer to interact with the world, electricity… unless you want to become Amish or Quaker.
Each of these communities have to eventually accept that their best option is a kind of mixed economy in which they need to earn some cash from the outside world in order to finance whatever services they can not generate themselves. Some turn their houses into small hotels, others sell their production of cheese…
Total isolation is not positive and the other option, to live like in the middle ages is not advisable… with no electricity, no books, no theater, no music other than local guitar player, no hospitals and a beautiful life expectancy of 38 years… tell me, are you willing to join?
With examples ranging from Hippie communes to Israel’s Kibbutzim to Stalin, and Mao’s experiments, history has shown that communes don’t work.
I believe in running a sustainable life; how is that? Simple.
Watch how much water and electricity you use and what you consume. It is not necessary to buy clothes or electrical appliances or any other product unless you really need it.
If I can walk, I do not take the car. If I can use the train, I do not take a plane.
I try not to have unnecessary appliances or gadgets.
Instead of watching TV, visit museums or read books and study; to gather knowledge will help you become a better person, Aristotle said to his pupil, Alexander the great and that is still valid today as much as 23 and a half centuries later.
I buy food in Saturday markets from local farmers as much as I can, fresh fish, local meat, season products only, not imported foods at all or foods out of season and never from malls.
Being kind to others contributes to make a better world, starting by our own family members.
Please be sure that your heart, your mind and your mouth speak the same language and then share your opinions humbly with those around you. Convincere (to convince) is better than vincere (to win).
That is a sustainable economy for instance in my opinion and this has to grow from inside you out of reflection and not planted in your brain from outside or imposed.
Reflections are better than genuflections.
It is possible to change the course if we change our habits through conscious living and conscious living is the fruit of maturity and inner reflection.
There is not such a thing as self sustainable communes, we lean on our forefathers, rely on their accomplishments to move forward. Civilization is based on exchange and participation of the many and it can be defined as nothing else than the transmission of knowledge from one generation to another, isolation leads nowhere.
Wherever and whenever this transmission of knowledge is disrupted the world becomes chaos and an unpleasant place to live. It has happened some times in the past with terrifying consequences.
I would like to write to you a comment on these terrible events in the past and how a few managed to preserve civilization. Maybe it might help you decide which path you like to choose for your life. I will prepare in the coming days.
You should do your own research, but here are some quick links that backup his statements:
Dead Trees Due to Drought Are Changing the Amazon from a Carbon Sink to Carbon Source
The Causes and Effects of Deforestation
Fertilizers and plastics are poisoning the oceans, says UN
Madrid has record breaking air pollution
Peak Oil: Decline of Oil Fields Output on Wikipedia
Anthropology’s case for Omnivorism