It is a common feeling in the US and European countries which receive a lot of immigration: People feel they cannot possibly let everyone in; otherwise, their country will be destroyed. It is an understandable feeling, a reaction to an un-asked for and un-welcome change.
In the meanwhile, our world is being destroyed. We cannot possibly keep on warring and bombing, go on with destruction; yet, we are doing it. We cannot possibly produce so much plastic crap and ruin the environment, killing animals; yet, we are doing it. This is not even an “otherwise” situation , the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is very real. Contrary to the common perception, the patch is not an island of plastic trash that is visible to the eye; it's mostly tiny pieces, microplastics that cannot be detected with satellite imagery. Yet, we might soon be forming the eighth continent: A trash paradise.
The Pacific Trash Vortex “is an area the size of Texas in the North Pacific in which an estimated six kilos of plastic for every kilo of natural plankton, along with other slow degrading garbage, swirls slowly around like a clock, choked with dead fish, marine mammals, and birds who get snared. Some plastics in the gyre will not break down in the lifetimes of the grandchildren of the people who threw them away,” writes Greenpeace.
The Ocean Cleanup estimates the surface area of the patch to be 1.6 million square kilometers. That is more than 5 times the size of Italy. More than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic float in the patch, that is 250 pieces per person on the planet. The weight is about 80,000 tonnes. Let alone the billions of euros environmental damage this is causing, let alone the sea animals being entangled in the debris, this plastic soup is toxic and animals feed on it. As the food chain progresses, these toxic chemicals make their way into our bodies. We cannot produce plastic soup and drink it; yet, we are doing it.
The worse thing, GPGP is not the only garbage patch, there are four more. Now there is the North Atlantic Garbage Patch too. Globally, we produce 100 million tons of plastic,
10 % of which ends up in the oceans. “Already, the ocean is filled with about 165 million tons of plastic. That’s 25 times heavier than the Great Pyramid of Giza. By 2050, plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish, predicts a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in partnership with the World Economic Forum,” writes Rebecca Harrington in the Business Insider article “By 2050, the oceans could have more plastic than fish:”
What else we cannot do ? That is what else we are not supposed to be doing? You may say “We cannot keep on breeding. Otherwise, we will over-populate and ruin the world.” In fact, many people say that. However, there are other predictions. “Overpopulation – The Human Explosion Explained” video says that the UN estimates the 12th billionth person will not be born at all. The population growth will come to an end because the more prosperity people have the less children they have and this is now a trend all over the world.
We cannot keep on feeding an economic system that is enriching a few greedy businessmen at the expense of the many have-nots; otherwise, the fabric of our society will collapse. Yet, we are doing it. We cannot go on with nuclear arms; otherwise, we will suffer disasters which will be our end. Yet, we are not changing our ways, not giving up on our power of threat. We cannot keep playing with our nutrition, grow genetically modified food, put all sorts of conservatives, chemicals, artificial colors in every “edible” item; otherwise, we will all grow strange illnesses, lose our health. Yet, we are doing all these.
We cannot keep on advertising, we cannot go on fuelling so much unnecessary consumption; yet we are doing it. We cannot possibly add hundreds of new cruise ships to the oceans every year, but we are doing it. We cannot possibly promote mass-tourism to Antarctica. Otherwise, the last pristine wilderness we have will be destroyed. Of course it's not only Antarctica, the whole world gets its share of the huge carbon gas emissions. We cannot possibly keep adding new planes, new routes every day, and luxury travel every year. Yet, we are doing all these things. Yes, our world will be destroyed if we go on like this. We cannot possibly keep on with the lifestyles we have in the “Western” world, but we are not moving an inch.
Perhaps it is best to accept that so many of the things we know the way we know will be destroyed. But like people back in the day who were worried about where we'd find horses for everybody, or who claimed that horseshit would be filling the roads, and whose worries never realized, perhaps it will be the same for us: Some other alternative will come up one day. There are so many things people a 100 or even 50 years ago did not know about. Technology is developing so rapidly that we can list so many things we did not know even in our lifetimes, even a decade ago.
Mark Twain famously said: “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” And in his “Environmentalism is a Religion” speech he gave in 2003, Michael Crichton says:
“Nobody anywhere will say that the core fears expressed for most of my life have turned out not to be true. As we have moved into the future, these doomsday visions vanished, like a mirage in the desert. They were never there---though they still appear, in the future. As mirages do.”
There are other things, perhaps more important we cannot do and should not. For example, we cannot act on fear. We cannot act on doomsday scenarios, future predictions. Why? Because we make predictions based on our current models and past trends, we predict by extrapolation. Then, we are most often wrong. We are dealing with incredibly complex, evolving systems; we need to be humble, deeply humble when we attempt to make predictions, nobody can predict the future.
Our predictions are expressions of prejudices and fears. “We cannot let everybody in, otherwise we'll be destroyed” is an expression of fear. It is not a fact. And it is important to make that distinction.
Similar fears and speculations were there when the Berlin wall came down. The doomsday scenarios did not play out. Sure, there were difficulties along the road, but they were mostly overcome and the situation stabilized.
It is of course true that no country can totally open its borders in this political environment, such an expectation would be illogical. Even the most ardent proponents of open borders and everybody's right to move around the world freely, do not suggest that. Yet, it is also obvious that this system is illogical as well and is not working anymore. (It is madness to define people by the imaginary line that they were born in, and even more so, to define their radius of movement in the world again by that imaginary line. A state is a non-entity, it's fiction we have created, whereas people are blood and bones; and people are dying in order to protect the “sovereignty” of a non-entity, the state.) So there has to be a new way of solving this problem apart from the dichotomy of either open or close borders.
Imagine there's no countries
In two years time, it will be half a decade since Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote this. He said “It isn't hard to do,” but apparently, for many people, it is. And although it is “one of the 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century” it isn't helping to get the message through.
Countries, borders, visas are all concepts we have created. They have become anachronistic now, they belong to a different age. Insisting on them is illogical. It is time to come up with alternative suggestions on how to set up a new socio-political construct and start discussing them. With globalization, the number of people who do not feel they belong to a certain place are on the rise, our identities change at a fast pace. If we keep on thinking within the paradigms of today, we will be destroying our world soon. So we need to change the way we look at things.
It is beneficial to us that everybody on the planet is well-off. The Earth is our spaceship; we are all in the same boat. Sooner or later, we will all pay for our actions and for the actions of other people. We either sink together or float together. So we establish a moral guide, base our policies not on pure selfishness but on selfish-altruism, on enlightened self-interest. Then we set out from there.
There is a saying in Turkish. Kervan yolda düzülür. “The caravan is set up on the road.” That is, you find out things when you set out on the road and add things you need, find solutions as you go along. Sure, we discuss the possibilities beforehand, discuss options and solutions. We also keep in mind that even with the best case scenario, something unexpected might come up. We find out after the fact and deal with problems when they appear. We don't grow in vitro fears, we face them in vivo. That's the only way to transcend our political construct which is not working anymore.