Perhaps it is no coincidence that I wrapped up Thomas Friedman’s ‘Hot, Flat, and Crowded’ via audiobook while travelling last night. While en route to France from New York City, with the tools afforded by globalization at my fingertips, namely my iTouch, laptop, wi-fi on the plane, and my little fingers going blog-wild, I was able to truly appreciate many of Friedman’s well-made points. We are certainly the problem, but ‘we’ may or may not even be willing to solve the problem. CROWDED is an understatement.
The ride to JFK from home was as smooth as can be, but still a nightmare. And while the ease of auto check-in at the AirFrance counter was just peachy, the line to check luggage was equally nightmarish. The terminal itself was chaotic enough to nearly rupture the veins in my neck, never mind pop them out with a mad rush of adrenalin fueled angst. The westernized world is just plain crowded, and without a doubt the source for so many of today’s issues – from chronic anxiety and its associated health problems, to a failing commodity driven economy of wants rather than needs, to the inability to find just an ounce of peace and quiet to better examine and understand oneself. The crowded issue puts so much stress on all of us to maintain a constantly expanding human ecosystem; and at all costs – costs to personal and population health and well-being, and to the environment around us.
Spending most of my days in solitude – underwater – in among the last unoccupied frontiers on our planet, it doesn’t take much exposure to ‘the daily grind’ to nearly go off the deep end. But, even from a distance, in that alien environment, signs of trouble keep popping up. I’m often asked ‘what is the strangest thing you’ve found underwater?’. Answer: a full plastic patio set, complete with table, umbrella, and four chairs. I mean seriously people…this isn’t just loose soda cans and beer bottled anymore. This really is a sad state of affairs out there. Pollution is an indicator with its own set of issues, but it stands alone as exactly that – an indicator. The problem is at the source…there are just too many of us, and we are on a course for unsustainability as a species.
Friedman makes some great suggestions on how to address the hot, flat, and crowded issues, but like many of us with our nose in the books and our pens on paper – we may never tap into the limelight held by the decision makers; eh em…politicians. And yes, at the root of the world ‘politician’ is guess what – ‘politics’. Decisions aren’t made in Earth’s best interests, they are made for political positioning, and to maintain the global status quo, all while creating a false sense of security for the people that aren’t really paying attention.
Let’s start paying attention to the root problems folks. Take that one wide-eyed trip to JFK International Airport with a little caffeine in your system, and it’ll be obvious.
Now of course, we can’t wipe out half of our population. That would be genocide…illegal, immoral, and unfathomable. But we do need to be responsible, and learn how to adapt and work together at scales previously unattainable to address the pressures we are placing on this planet. Otherwise, Earth may find a way to bite back – and it ain’t gonna be pretty.Share
Michael Lombardi is a subaquatic entrepreneur, literary artist, diving technologist, and explorer. The digital content throughout this site chronicles his work. 100% of commerce generated through this media benefits Ocean Opportunity Inc.