Towards a
 Philosophy of


Returning to the analogy between the straw(s) which broke the camel's back and the burden each of us is placing on our planet's finite ability to support us.

When we eventually face up to the fact and accept that there IS a limit to the number of straws we can safely place on the camel's back (the drain and strain that we can place collectively on our planet's finite resources and carrying capacity), we will also have to face up to the awkward question of how many straws each of us may reasonably and fairly place on its back. It hardly seems reasonable or fair that one person should be allowed 100 straws, while another is allowed only 1, although at the moment that is effectively what happens, because everyone is allowed, indeed, encouraged, to place as many straws on the camel's back as he, his company or organisation, has (or can borrow) the money to pay for. If you want, and can afford, to fly Concorde every week, for example, there is nothing to stop or even discourage you from doing so (at least, there wasn't, before it was taken out of service).

In order to function satisfactorily, our economy requires perpetual growth, and thus encourages us to place as many straws on the camel's back as possible. The advertising and credit industries are devoted to promoting just this. Perhaps you now begin to understand what I mean when I say that our economy is inherently non-sustainable.

Those working (whatever their position) or with money invested in these and a host of other non-sustainable industries, or dependent on doing business with them, are not going to like what I'm saying, because it threatens their source of income. They will be strongly inclined to reject what I am saying and find countless arguments to prove me wrong, some paying lawyers to present and deliver these arguments with finesse. Others, however, will recognise, if not for their own sakes, for that of their children and coming generations, that radical change is absolutely necessary, and that no matter how important their jobs and source of income are to them, the creation of a sustainable economy is even more important. Most people, I am sure, once they realise what is at stake (which the critical thing), will not only be prepared to make sacrifices and big changes to their lives, but will want to do so with enthusiasm - because they will be doing it for their own children and their descendents.

At the moment it looks as though society as a whole will not face up to the fact of there being a limit to the number of straws it can place on the camel's back until it hears the bones crack (and has scientific proof that it has actually broken), by which time, of course, it will be too late.

In the meantime, it is up to those of us who are prepared to face up to it to act responsibly.

What is the point, you ask, if the camel's back is going to break anyway?

There is still a chance (albeit a small one) that we can avoid breaking the camel's back. But even if it does break, although the consequences will be terrible, it will not be the end. If allowed to, the camel (Earth's ability to support a sizable human population) will recover. Hopefully, those who survive will have learned (in part from our example) how not to overload the camel again.