Monday, November 7, 2011

What Now?

October 28th has come and gone and with it the culmination of the Mayan Prophetic Calendar which some say records the long history of the evolution of consciousness. But what does that have to do with us?, You might query. When examined through the lens of long spans of time coupled with the experience along the way, we begin to see patterns developing regarding human behaviors. From geographical movement to communication styles. We can see the effects of population growth (we just passed the 7 billionth human mark on the planet) and by looking at this long history, perhaps we can glean some clues concerning how to deal with the many crises facing humanity today.

Bernard Lietaer in The Future of Money explores four current "megatrend pistons" dramatically driving our futures.

The first of these is what he calls the "Age Wave." Lietaer sites advances in "hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle and medicine" resulting in people living longer. He says, "In the developed world, life expectancy has now risen to 80 years for women, and to 76 years for men. One remarkable consequence is that two out of three of all human beings who have ever reached the age of 65 are alive today." Interestingly enough prolonged life beyond 65 has presented a major financial issue. That issue is how are we going to provide for those who live beyond that age? Since, back in the day, pensions and retirement were based on age 65 since at that time very few people lived beyond that, so the system was not set up to include huge numbers of people needing to rely on retirement, Social Security, or other systems to assist them through the later years of life beyond 65. Estimates are that by 2030 one out of four people will be 65 or older. He says, "This unprecedented 'Age Wave' will transform the economics and politics of the world. One expert's opinion is that 'Global ageing will become not just the transcendent economic issue of the 21st century, but the transcendent political issue as well."

The second of these is "Information revolution." It is obvious that the incredible advancements in technology is at least in part responsible for loss of jobs. This means that workers who once unloaded products from a train car, truck or ship, now replaced by an electronically driven 'robot' now have to be retrained for another kind of job. The majority of jobs are now in the IT sector. Laborers are not the only workers who are being replaced. Bank tellers are being replaced by ATM's and the ease of taking care of banking business over the internet. Jobs once held by clerks in mercantile stores are no longer necessary because of internet purchasing. Wholesalers are being replaced, warehouses once needed to store product waiting to be shipped to local stores are in many cases no longer needed because consumers order, not from a local store, but from the internet so produce is shipped from the originating manufacturer.

Once you begin to think about the changes in how we shop, the ways in which we spend our money, it is mind blowing how many jobs and businesses we once took for granted are no longer needed. Home phones and pagers for example.

Which begs the question posed by Lietear, "How can we provide a living to additional billions of people when our technologies make jobless growth a clear possibility?"

The third of these is "Climate change and biodiversity extinction"

In Gregg Braden's newest book Deep Truth, the research he shares indicates that while humans are in part responsibile for the warming of the planet, earth warming and cooling cycles is the main cause of the climate changes we are currently experiencing. This changes the way scientists and environmentalists think about meeting the challenge of what we have no control over - the natural earth cycles of warming and cooling. How do we meet that challenge and how did those who came before us meet that challenge.

As a result of global warming/cooling we have seen an increase in natural disasters. Everyone remembers vividly the "Katrina" debacle. Since then we have had devastating earthquakes, tsunami's, hurricanes, droughts, and tornadoes. These natural disasters have cost us in untold monetary losses, lives, property, and health.

Lietaer quotes two Nobel Prize winning economists, James Tobin and John Harsanyi: "Global climate change is a 'real and pressing danger', carrying with it significant environmental, economic, social and geopolitical risks." Lietaer shares a number of facts regarding climate change, but this one jumped out at me: "The following public Warning to humanity was unanimously agreed by 1,600 scientist, including a majority of the living Nobel Prize winners in the sciences: "A great change in stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated...If not checked, many of our current practices may so put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world, that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about."

He poses this question: "How can we resolve the conflict between short-term financial interests and long-term sustainability?"

The fourth of these is "Monetary Instability." We are all aware of this trend. Most of us are clueless regarding understanding money, how it is created, who is in charge of the monetary system, and how it is regulated or is it? Lietaer states that "Money is modern society's central information system, akin to the nervous system in our own bodies." This is no small statement and more than ever in any previous human history is it imperative that all of us understand this informational system called money.

The informational age has exploded on the 21st century rapidly changing how information (money included) is exchanged. Information is perhaps the only commodity that is infinitely reproducible. A book is made available on line and for a small fee it can be downloaded an infinite amount of times without the producer of the book losing ownership of the original. No other commodity has that capability. There is nothing exchanged except for permission to perform an electronic action to replicate the original. You may have noticed the subtle but important creation of "internet money" in the form of discounts given by sellers just by giving you a code which allows you to purchase some commodity at a discounted price or in some cases for free. This also crosses national boundaries and is available anywhere on the planet where internet access is available. The Net has brought together a world as community and as a result we instantaneously can know what is going on any where on the globe. This is changing how we see each other and how we see ourselves.

Lietaer's question is: "How can we prepare for the possibility of a monetary crisis?"

He posed this question in 2001 as he wrote The Future of Money. We have seen how the governments of the world have and are attempting to handle the reality of the current monetary crises. How well do you think the crises is being handled? Or have you just hidden your head in the sand thinking there is nothing y0u can do about it. Or that it is "their" fault and they should fix it. I hope that the information in this posting will guide you to see that what is going on on the planet affects us all and each of us can take some action toward a more sustainable world. That action may be to change your mind regarding your personal responsibility for creating the world around you.

Living in Choice means facing the reality of our own creations. Knowledge is power when used with wisdom. The other day I asked a client this question, "What are you willing to say no to, to have the life you want?" It rang loud and clear in my own mind.