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The way ahead

The way ahead: Five thinkers' views
Click below for a view on the future of the planet
 Intro Ernst Weizsacker Ernst Weizsaecker Vandana Shiva Vandana Shiva
Bjorn Lomborg Bjorn Lomborg Julian Morris Julian Morris Satish Kumar Satish Kumar

Satish Kumar

Satish Kumar
“Small is beautiful"

Satish Kumar is the editor of the magazine Resurgence, and programme director of Schumacher College, an international centre for ecological studies.

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Preferred mode of transport:
Train - I can relax, read and sleep.

Biggest environmental vice?
Flying - I like travelling and speaking. I wish there were boats and ships as alternatives.

Most recent major consumer purchase?
None. I haven't bought anything other than food or clothes for a long time.

What is most important about sustainable development?
Spirituality and a holistic world view is the foundation on which sustainable development can be built.

Is there a conflict between reducing poverty and protecting the planet?
No. The real problem is not poverty, it is affluence. This is the cause of unsustainability, environmental pollution and social injustice. We need to reduce affluence so there is enough for everybody’s need, but not for everybody’s greed. I am not saying that everybody should be equal, but the current gap between poor and rich is too big.

Consumption: how much is too much?
Affluence is based on the religion of materialism - the ruling religion of our time. We need to move away from consumerism, consumption and acquisition. The very notions of these reduce human beings to consumers and mean a lowering of the quality of life.

Sustainability has to be based in spirituality, which means using material resources with humility and reverence for life and for nature. There are enough resources for plenty of good food and shelter – and reasonable mobility. We go to far, far places for small needs. I think economies should be much more localised, so that many of our needs are met locally.

Technology: threat or saviour?
Human beings have almost become slaves to technology, rather than technology serving human beings. We should use technology in a way appropriate to enhance our relationships and work, rather than thinking that technology will do everything and that humans don’t need to do any work – work is essential for our fulfilment, satisfaction and creativity.

Inequality: an inevitable evil?
Inequality is not inevitable. It is because we have become materialistic and self-centred. We need to think about the interests of others. We depend on the earth and on human community - therefore if there is anybody poor, or starving, it should be a shame on those who are wealthy and powerful.

What should we do?

  • I would like to see everyone in the world taking great interest in cooking and baking their own bread - at the moment we depend so much on mass-produced food.
  • I would like to see much more importance given to creativity. I would like to see every school and university teaching some kind of craft, so that when people leave they will be able to make something, rather than just consume.
  • I would like to see government policy encouraging small hospitals, small schools, small corner shops. Community should be rebuilt, and community has to be small so people can relate to each other.
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