2010 State of the World: Transforming Cultures
Organisation: Worldwatch Institute
Publish Date: 2010
Method: Creative thinking
Type: Other publication
Tags: Education, Health, Innovation, Sustainability, Cultures, Agriculture
The past five years have witnessed an unprecedented mobilization of efforts to combat the world’s accelerating ecological crisis. Since 2005, thousands of new government policies have been enacted, hundreds of billions of dollars have been invested in green businesses and infrastructure, scientists and engineers have greatly accelerated development of a new generation of “green” technologies, and the mass media have turned environmental problems into a mainstream concern. Amid this flurry of activity, one dimension of our environmental dilemma remains largely neglected: its cultural roots. As consumerism has taken root in culture upon culture over the past half-century, it has become a powerful driver of the inexorable increase in demand for resources and production of waste that marks our age. Of course, environmental impacts on this scale would not be possible without an unprecedented population explosion, rising affluence, and breakthroughs in science and technology. But consumer cultures support—and exaggerate—the other forces that have allowed human societies to outgrow their environmental support systems. Human cultures are numerous and diverse—and in many cases have deep and ancient roots. They allow people to make sense of their lives and to manage their relationships with other people and the natural world. Strikingly, anthropologists report that many traditional cultures have at their core respect for and protection of the natural systems that support human societies. Unfortunately, many of these cultures have already been lost, along with the languages and skills they nurtured, pushed aside by a global consumer culture that first took hold in Europe and North America and is now pressing to the far corners of the world. This new cultural orientation is ...