Recently a very important study co-funded by NASA revealed that human civilization could be heading for collapse in as little as 15 years. The study consolidates risk criteria into two main indicators, an “us and them” situation between elites and the masses, and resources that are stretched to their limits and threaten the carrying capacity of the earth. These factors interplay to create a dangerous situation in which elites continue to live unsustainably and the rest of the world suffers. Sadly, the catastrophic collapse of food, water, and energy systems, as well as climate change will affect everybody, just not at the same time. As elites buy time, the masses continue to face increasingly severe impacts.
Technology, which many look to for a quick fix, tends to increase consumption, which counters its efficiency benefits. IT’s not technology that will save us, but our own actions, including how we use technology. The NASA study points to solutions that address the root causes: inequality and overconsumption. Increased demand for animal products as developing nations get wealthier is particularly problematic. These solutions include reducing social inequality, consuming fewer resources, and curbing population growth. The real solution is to change human behavior: if we can change how we live, share what we have, consume less, have fewer or no children, and begin to change our societal structures, we can turn this Titanic around. There’s no time like now to begin!
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Increasingly, our connectedness is mediated by technology. I know I’m guilty of being an email and Facebook addict; this is how I connect with my parents, relatives, and friends abroad. But what about the relationships we cultivate face to face? Are they suffering? Are we tuning out of life as we flit from our smart phone to the next gadget?
Levy’s goal is to reverse the connective technology paradox. The current dilemma is that in our desire to be connected to distant people and events, we use technologies that distract us from connecting with the present moment and the people around us. Levy is using those same technologies with meditation to help his students be more present, and focus on one task at a time, even if that task uses technology. For instance, one of his assignments is to do only email for 15 minutes. For those of us who check email constantly (yes, I mean me), this is an important shift. He also has his students practice meditation in class, which, although at first awkward, eventually helps them mentally declutter.
Says Levy, “A good deal of my focus in recent years has been on exploring how to use our digital tools differently, to connect us to one another and to sources of information in deeper and healthier ways.” Amen to that!
Source: NPR Blog
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