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The Column icon The Column: Issue 36

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The Column is a monthly feature that explores the world of creativity and aesthetics.

The Future Creative
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable

I believe the exploration and development of our creativity is the key to help us better accept and live with the profound changes that have begun to affect our world. Creativity is an essential component of what it is to be human, and although expressions of creativity may be focused within a particular culture, creed, or politic, the act of creativity is universal and one which crosses the boundaries that so often divide us.

Choose Your Future

There are two immediate futures that face us all. One where our ability to survive as a species is in serious jeopardy through our inability to limit our carbon consumption. The other, where we consume less, take fewer plane journeys, eat more locally produced food, and use solar, wind, and water to meet our energy requirements.

The richer nations of the world are resistant to changes that limit their carbon consumption because of the profound contradiction between the dynamic of the global marketplace and the needs of the environment. Politicians prevaricate while the poorer nations of the world resist change as they judge their future economic prosperity as undermined by any limiting of their carbon consumption.

We are in serious trouble and desperately in need of a leader who has the vision and urgency to inspire the peoples of the world to unite in our common cause: survival.

So what has creativity to do with all this? Our evolutionary journey has given our species abilities that increase our chance of survival. We may be physically weak compared to many other animals, but our capacity for creativity more than compensates and is arguably the very reason why we have become the dominant species on our planet. Many of us however have little confidence in our innate creative ability. By encouraging and supporting creativity in the wider population we begin to untap the wealth of potential which lays largely dormant.

Non-Marketplace Priorities

The dominant view of the world as a marketplace is judged as a reality that cannot be remodeled. Businesses exist to make money, people work to buy goods and services. Products, services, and labour are sold within the market. A view of the world that seeks to change the nature of the market is rounded on as naïve or unrealistic.

The market, so many argue, exists outside of government and personal control. Actions that would significantly reduce carbon emissions such as the large-scale production of micro-generators that produce small quantities of low cost energy for homes, are not well supported within the market economy whose purpose is to make money rather than serve our longer term interests.

The marketplace will eventually encourage the development and sale of products and services that support renewable energy, but only after the existing fossil fuels have been so depleted as to no longer encourage monetary profitability. A delay to implement significant renewable energy policies worldwide will however be catastrophic.

If non-market priorities are not adopted by the global community we will struggle to meet the great challenges that lie ahead, challenges that threaten our very existence. The global market is here to stay for the short to medium term, but we must also adopt "non-market priority principles", both on a local and international stage.

I've expressed five core non-partisan principles below:

1. To act in ways that do not harm the environment: without a place where we can breathe, eat, and drink, we will die.

2. To care for the weak and vulnerable: the most important principle after ensuring our survival is the care of others.

3. To encourage co-operation and understanding through personal and joint endeavours that do not have a salable product or service. Defining and supporting goals that are non-profit motivated strengthens the bonds between peoples and provides a shared non-partisan purpose.

4. To respect and be tolerant of the culture and creed of others. The essential principles that ensure stability between peoples.

5. To encourage and support creativity. Personal development and enrichment is as important to achieve as those aims that are focused towards benefiting the many.

The Glue of Creativity

I am not suggesting everyone should become an artist. Creativity is a far broader principle than being restricted by the narrow confines of the art world (music, the visual arts, dance, literature, and drama). I have defined creativity as:

Gathering personal experience, knowledge and skill, then using these qualities to produce an answer to a challenge of some kind.

The "challenge" I state in the definition above may be personal, practical, may result in something others might view, hear, touch, or may equally result in a thought or action. Creativity requires the individual to play, consider, experiment, and consolidate. It is more than thought alone, more than reaction. It is not passive, it requires effort. Like anything of value, the more you put in, the more you get back.

I believe the peoples of the world require the glue of creativity to hold them together in what will be a time of great turmoil. Creativity that tolerates differences in the great forces of religion and politics need not be bound by them. "Creative Constructionism" would satisfy our personal and societal need for progress, betterment, and fulfillment.

The Myth of More

Carbon is consumed in various forms, from the burning of fossil fuels (Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Coal) to the manufacture and disposable of goods and packaging.

If China for example consumes the same amount of oil in percentage terms as the UK, China alone would require 99 million barrels of oil per day. At present the total world consumption of oil is around 84 million barrels a day, and the output of the major oil fields, including those in the Middle East, will begin to significantly decline over the next few decades.

Within A Lifetime

China in common with many other nations will never enjoy the same level of carbon consumption as the rich nations as there will simply not be enough oil in the world to meet those demands.

Oil prices will steadily rise to a level that prohibits its general use. The environmental changes that are occurring today, from the melting of Greenland's glaciers to the deforestation of Central America and East Asia, will result in the forced migration of millions as sea levels rise and the climate undergoes profound change.

Conflict between groups generally arise when some have something others want. Force is often used to either maintain or threaten ownership and/or control of those interests. Our children will witness a turning point in our species' future as the rise in sea levels and the desalination of the Antarctic Ocean occurs. Within a single life-span great turmoil will engulf the peoples of the world. Profound political crises will define the 21st century as the effect of our insatiable consumption of carbon begins to bite deep.

And What Of Now?

According to the World Energy Council we have the potential to provide twice the amount of electricity that the world uses now by using renewable methods. The use of offshore wind alone in the UK could meet that country's electricity needs three times over. Solar generated power could provide many times more energy than the world currently uses. The only obstacles to implementation is the amoral force of the market and the failure of political leaders to enforce non-market priorities.

The path ahead requires we work towards a sustainable and rewarding future. If this is to be achieved at all it will be through revolution, bloody or peaceful. I for one choose the second of those two paths. It is the only way if we are to prevent ourselves being the authors of our own annihilation.

Our Shared Endeavour

From ancient times humans have felt a primordial urge to explore. This has often been driven by colonial ambitions and tainted by the ruthless acquisition of land and influence by an invading power. There are however honourable motives of exploration: our need to discover and learn, the search to build a better place, and the drive of our insatiable curiosity.

In a world where we consume less and reduce our carbon consumption we also need the focus of a shared nonpartisan endeavour that inspires us. Such a "great endeavour" must be global and of equal beneficial to all the peoples of our world in all aspects of its undertaking and delivery. It would also be wise for such a global project to go hand in hand with the adoption of the kind of non-marketplace priorities I mentioned earlier.

I believe space exploration has the potential to be that uniting inspirational endeavour as it will not only progress our understanding and appreciation of our own world, but also bring the immeasurable benefit of ongoing achievement as we journey out towards the stars.

My hope is that our thirst to discover and better understand our universe is used as a uniting force that both enriches and advances all the peoples of the earth as we set out on our great adventure, not only to survive and care for this world, but to become explorers that travel far beyond.


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Authors background
Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author. Mike is also the Creative Director of 2BrightSparks, a software company.

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