At the World Resources Forum in Davos this week I made a shocking confession: I no longer believe the earth is flat. This is, I know, heretical. Our entire, flat-earth society is built on the principle that we can pull resources from ‘somewhere’ onto our linear earth; use and abuse them; and then throw them ‘away’.
But have you noticed? – there is no ‘somewhere’ and there is no ‘away’. Everything is here, and (except for the great gift of in-pouring sunlight, and the occasional meteor) always has been. So what do flat-earthers mean when they talk about resources, and even ‘renewable resources’? More importantly, what might a round-earth view look like?
Even in the run-up to the global environmental summit in Rio next year, the talk about ‘green economics’ generally presupposes a flat earth – just using up stuff at a slower rate.
But on a round earth we understand that literally everything – every atom, including those in our bodies – is a resource. Everything is input to a future process. And everything is output from an earlier process. There is no such thing as waste. Everything is renewed – in time. Even coal, oil: if we stop (ab)using them and wait for a hundred million years or so, they too will renew themselves.
Time is the essence. On a round earth we understand that we humans can only safely make use of (other) resources at a rate at which they can and will renew themselves. The mines and wells of the future are in our garbage dumps, or already dispersed in the air and water.
Round-earthers unite! The flat-earthers will destroy our habitat, if we let them. Let’s help them think ‘round’. Please share your most heretical thoughts here!
Illustration by Klaus Elle