System Change, we need Systemic Change !

This is what you read and hear more and more often. In comments, articles and discussions about the state of the Earth's health, about the alarmingly rapid change in our climate.
And that alongside, of course, the call for Degrowth....

What is meant by this system change?

Insofar as you can and may explain a very complex system in a few simple phrases:

That we need to move from an economy/society based on growth and profit, to one that puts well-being of nature -and humans as part of nature- first.

It also implies a change of the subsystems in our society. And these are at the same time also a major reason for the need for systemic change. And that’s because those subsystems are having a very hard time. Or are even in danger of collapsing: food supply, healthcare, education...

But it also means a change in society, a change in your and my behaviour. From ego-centric to eco-centric. And we all know how complicated radical behavioural change is, don't we?

Do we need to?

And is that necessary, that change?

Look around you, and then ask again. If you don't know, or your answer is no, watch the documentary Ten Billion (2015). And read the latest risk assessment by the EEA.

I won't go into what that economy should look like. Many economists are racking their brains over this, different models have been developed. Some sounding more attractive and feasible than others. I am not an economist. So I do wiser to let the economists do their important work without bothering them with amateur theories.

What matters to me now is the word CHANGE.

The road to change

What is almost always missing from messages and comments shouting that we need (systemic) change is HOW we are going to bring about that change.

How do you change a fossil-fuel engine into an electric motor? (Nice comparison with our economy, don't you think?)

If I may give you some heartfelt and urgent advice: don't do that while the engine is still running at full speed. You'll burn your hands or get completely trapped between the moving parts (think Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times...). Another major risk is that the engine blows itself up completely.

You have to turn the motor off first. Or at least run it very, very, very slowly and disconnect it from the drive.

There is no on-off switch on our economy. So turning it off will have to be done by stopping the fuel supply: (over)consumption.

Whatever keeps our current economy running (and we all know there are a lot of factors, from indecisive governments that keep pushing growth, to companies that want/need to generate high profits for their shareholders), (over)consuming is the fuel, the people who keep buying. You and me.

All the major problems in our modern world have been caused by humans and their overconsumption. In other words, once humanity started consuming more than what the earth could (re)generate and process in terms of raw materials, energy for production and transport and ‘digesting’ our dirt and waste, problems arose and then grew at a rapid and accelerating pace.

Stop fuelling the system

Systemic change, for an economy no longer based on growth and profit, requires that we stop throwing fuel into the engine. We need to stop overconsuming and the associated depletion and pollution of the earth.

The questions I would ask anyone talking about system change and Degrowth are: how big is your ecological footprint? When will it be smaller than one earth, so that you are ready for change and the current rotten system is not fuelled by your overconsumption? How do you think we can cure the rest of humanity suffering from overconsumption?

And to all the economists designing new economic models: How do you see the transition? Are you yourself ready to step into your new economic model yet?

And to you: do you already know how big your ecological footprint is? Are you ready to make that footprint (much) smaller so that the lesser fortuned of this earth and future generations can have a slightly better life?

(Text continues below the image)

Your ecological footprint, no system change without a reduced ecological footprint
Artwork: System Change (1)

Preparing for change

I have no doubt that systemic change is urgently needed, and that it will happen. Voluntarily, by our own actions, or forced by circumstances if we wait too long and continue with the current system.
So we had better start preparing for that change as soon as possible. Then we are able to change with it, or even help initiate the change if it happens too slowly. Be the change you want to see, right?

Over the past 10 years, my wife and I have worked hard to change our lives to one that is much less consuming, much more sustainable and even somewhat regenerative.

It is not an easy road, but it is very rewarding, because we feel healthy, inspired and able to inspire others, and more in tune with the earth and nature (for which you really don't have to live IN nature!).
Do we miss the luxury of buying and owning? No, because we still own what is really important to us, and not owning more than that is a liberation, allows us to breathe freely.

Want to know more detailed what we have done to reduce our ecological footprint, so that you can reduce yours and prepare yourself for a new economy and society, and perhaps be an example and be a help to others around you?

Just ask...

I'm here every day.
Write a comment, or send me a message and I will keep you updated on a document I'm working on right now.

There is a lot of information out there, and opinions are divided on every film or publication. If you want or need more background: watch a lot, read a lot, and form your own opinion.

Note: This is NOT a discussion forum on climate change, it is an opportunity to exchange thoughts on ways to stay within the limits of what the earth can bear, and on how to arrive at a fairer distribution of available resources.

'System Change (1)' is an artwork in my collection 'Drowned Earth', prints are available in my Saatchi Art portfolio at the artwork page. Or send me a message to receive a quote.