2012: ‘The World is Not Ending. It is the Opposite’

Over the holidays I have read the latest Club of Rome report Bankrupting Nature. I did this not because I enjoy reading non-fiction over Christmas but because I am grateful for the time I have to celebrate and I am compelled to consider how others will be able to do the same considering the deterioration of global ecological systems.


Two things became apparent: 1) the extinction crises is accelerating, 2) we have more knowledge and understanding than ever to address ecological and social crises. That second point was the good news. The bad news is that I can say with some confidence, as someone who works in London at the interface of environmental communication, ecological informed design and sustainability education, that we are simply not making the ecological crises a priority. Instead of using the wealth that is still abundant in this country to address environmental problems – we are squandering the opportunities we now have to catalyze transformation.


With severe ecological destabilization, possibilities for future prosperity disappear. Yet in education and economic policy, the basic fact that we depend on the stability and abundance of the Earth is largely ignored. We are simply not building the social institutions that would enable social transformation. Part of the problem rests with the educational establishment; ecologically literacy is still marginal in higher education. For this reason, the capacity to understand, much less respond to current problems is extraordinarily low. This blog will review the state of our capacities for cultural transformation in the UK at the end of 2012 by looking (very briefly) at social institutions and social movements. I will start by proposing that we take note of the words of the Mayan people.

In 2012 we survived the final of all the anticipated ‘end of the worlds’ and the media typically simultaneously mocked and commercialized what became the spectacle of the end of Mayan Long Count calendar, the 5,125-year cycle that ended on 21 December 2012. A film called  ‘2012 The Mayan Word’ documented the voices of the Mayan people who had some potent things to say:

“The world is not ending. It is the opposite: we are finishing ourselves off…The prophecies are given for us to check ourselves. What are we doing? It’s clear that if we don’t do anything to recover the equilibrium of Mother Earth, we are digging our own grave” (Maria Amalia Mex Tu’n, 26 mins). Continue reading

‘One Planet’ Olympic Games 2012


The Olympic Games 2012 won their bid partially on the concept of ‘One Planet Olympics’, meaning an Olympics that worked towards lowering its ecological footprint to a level where the earth’s bio-capacity is not diminished. The ecological footprint is a metric that allows us to calculate human pressure on the planet. Tolerance levels are determined by how much stress an ecological system is under due to resource extraction, pollution (including carbon emissions) and other human activities. A key awareness is that critical thresholds can provoke dramatic change and even collapse of ecosystems on various scales. The ‘One Planet’ concept is the challenge of living within the ecological carrying capacity of the earth, essential to avoid risks for civilization that result from destabilized ecosystems.

Unfortunately, the London Olympics Games 2012 are not the ‘One Planet Olympics’. Rather they an abuse of the concept of the concept of living within the Earth’s ecological boundaries. The UK government is spending £11billion+ on the Olympic Games but this same government cannot afford to fund a single independent environmental government watchdog. In 2010 the Sustainable Development Commission, the UK government’s only independent environmental body costing only £3million a year, was abolished. Grandiose green claims and pretensions to aspiring to ‘One Planet’ living are not supported by environmental infrastructure or government policy. Meanwhile the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales is having to dramatically cut staff. At the Olympics the WWF and BioRegional are helping the UK Government whitewash its image by using the ‘One Planet’ standard for an entirely unsustainable Olympics.


Continue reading