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Sustainability and the Pressing Need to Raise Our Collective Consciousness
by Dr. Edgar Mitchell

Posted: 23:45 February 22, 2008

Dr. Edgar Mitchell, astronaut of the Apollo 14
Dr. Edgar Mitchell, astronaut of the Apollo 14
We have all asked questions like: Who am I? How did I get here? What is my purpose in life? How did this body come together with this mind, perception and awareness? Most of us allow these heavy, seemingly unanswerable questions to glide by while we stay busy living our lives. But for some seekers, the pursuit of greater knowledge becomes a lifelong quest.

It has been a decade since The Way of the Explorer was first published, and the rush of civilization toward a tipping point has not abated. A major problematic event that will
occur due to our unsustainable growth is peak oil. Peak oil is the point in time at which the discoveries of new petroleum reserves will be less than world consumption. Running out of oil is projected to be imminent by many petroleum geologists.

In 1972, during a speech at an International Rotary Convention in Lausanne, Switzerland, shortly after my epiphany in space, I raised concern about the finite supply of fossil fuels, and its role in sustainability. We are overwhelming our planet’s renewable resources with our numbers and consumption patterns. It is my hope that reaching peak oil will cause citizens of the world to awaken to the larger issues.

As the twenty-first century begins to unfold, we find significant increases in violence and lawlessness in the world, which detracts from the critical need to protect the environment and the larger issue of the sustainability of our civilization. We humans are not as civilized as we would like to think. The world population more than doubled since 1975 to over six billion people. We are consuming Earth’s natural resources at an alarming rate. Our global natural resource base cannot support a population of more than two billion persons consuming at the level of Western cultures. Clearly, major changes in thinking and lifestyles are required as developing nations naturally aspire to the consumption of the West. Yet our political system is now punishing dissent, freedom of inquiry and efforts at preservation, tactics certain to worsen the drive toward sustainability.

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