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Maria and Ingo from Germany

January 7, 2010

We met Maria and Ingo in Thekkady, India – deep in the Periyar forest.  They were our trekking-mates on a guided trek within this beautiful game park.  Over our lunch break, we decided to pull out our cameras and microphones, and see if we could get them talking about life, the future, and the fact that the sky was falling and nobody seemed to care.

Turns out they knew. And they cared.  And like us, Maria had little optimism.  “I do sort of believe in the futuristic beliefs about the shortage of water…if we come to a point of crisis, then the darker side of humanity will come out”.   Maria points to our post-industrial culture as creating unsustainable lifestyles, and creating environmental destruction.  She feels it is not pessimistic, but rather just realistic to state that some of these negative impacts are irreversible, and that it will take some major changes on all of our parts to turn things around.  She acknowledges that change is occuring – people are waking up, but laments that it is all occurring too slowly.  We all must play a part and do our share she says.  She speaks of the political and policy changes in Germany, and of the grassroots movements in the US as small glimmers of hope.  For her own part, she is trying to decrease the amount of plane travel she does – resisting the temptation to cash in on the European discount airline tickets that have recently sprung up.

Ingo provides some balance.  He too has a rather realistic impression of the current state of our world.  He sees industrialization as a two-sided coin – it enables us with the power to destroy, but it also enables us with the power to develop new more sustainable ways.  He feels that we have the knowledge and skill to create new ways to tackle our energy and transportation problems, and to take our world in a new direction – but he sees the major barrier to this development being none other than capitalism.  “[Capitalism] is the biggest enemy of humanity right now…of the future of humanity” he says.  When the bottom-line is money, our priorities shift away from sustainability and toward consumption.  Changing the way that we organize trade and business could enable significant sustainable changes in the world, he believes.

If we are going to survive, Ingo believes that it will require everyone to think of themselves as global citizens.  To begin to think of the influences of their actions upon those living on the other side of the globe.  Maria states that those who do not even have enough food to eat or clean water to drink, cannot begin to think of these bigger issues, however Ingo disagrees.  “Here (in India)… even with low salaries, people are still thinking about environmentally-friendly business”.  This he finds very impressive, and very hopeful.

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