jusummerhayes

Learning new skills

Owley Beacon, South Brent, Devon
Owley Beacon, South Brent, Devon

“You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

The world of the future will require us to have and be capable of learning a new set of skills.

And no, they've nothing to do with data manipulation, flying a stupid drone or the Internet of Things.

It will be very practical; namely, we'll need to learn how to survive with a lot less than now and, more particularly, care for ourselves, particularly if, as I suspect, the world is set on a path where it can no longer sustain 10 billion people.

If you don't believe me and you're more inclined to think we'll geoengineer a solution to the world's changed environment, then, good luck with that. The technology, even if it can be brought into full operation, will never scale quickly enough to clean up our oceans, scrub the air clean, give us clean water (forget desalination) and feed an ever-expanding population from our depleted soils. 

Of course, by and large, we (always) think we can buy our way out of a problem, but as Covid19 has shown in excruciating detail, if there's no spending (in a collapsing world) then, in large part, there's no economy. Even Amazon can't function if we've no or little money to pay for things.

This immediately brings into focus our current education system. What exactly are we teaching our kids about adaptation, living with less and how to bring about a more community-minded, egalitarian society? Precisely nothing, or certainly not in my bailiwick. It's all so moribund: study a mostly useless number of subjects to pass a series of exams. Mine wasn't much different save that my engineering course (17-18) did teach me how to weld and bend sheet metal. I know I'm being overly harsh on the 'system' and there will always be exceptions (the local Steiner school comes to mind) but I can't believe that all our highly trained teachers and the policymakers can't see that the future will require people who can recycle stuff, treat people without great gobs of Big Pharma medicine, build or repair houses and live in a world of extreme temperatures — to name but a few of the problems that will have to be overcome.

I could make a similar or at least not dissimilar argument qua the business community. If you want an opportunity it isn't to greenwash an existing product (don't get me started!) but to re-engineer the business so that (for starters) you removed all packaging from the system and allowed everyone to refill or reuse what they already had. And then there's that other bugbear of mine: inbuilt obsolescence — the biggest consumer con of the 20th century. Yes, you heard me. Things aren't made to last and that's because we, the consumer, haven't protested when our machine breaks after a nanosecond of use or we're told that it's cheaper to buy a new thingamabob than it is to repair it. FFS.

Of course, like so many things I've opined on, I could have this all very wrong.

But somehow I don't think so.

In fact, the signs already exist that if all of us don't down-skill (no, that's not a typo) or learn a series of practical skills, we might find that absent the money we'll all be left high and very, very dry.

I know, it's all so gloomy but someone's got to open up the discussion.

Take care.

Much love, Ju.


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