Author and democracy activist Frances Moore Lapp says we already know how to solve the pressing issues of our time, such as climate change and world hunger.
But she says our own pre-conceived ideas about how things should work our mental map of the world is actually preventing us from taking action.
In a speech at Ottawa's Carleton University as part of the 78th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Lapp called for a wholesale revamping of the way we view government, the economy and democracy. If we manage to do it, she says, we can save ourselves from our own demise.
Lapp, made famous in the 1970s by her bestselling vegetarian cookbook Diet for a Small Planet, is an activist, author and co-founder with her daughter Anna Lapp of The Small Planet Institute. She says many people today are frightened by the potential for disaster, ecological and otherwise, and fearful that nothing can be done to prevent it. Lapp says we can do something if we challenge five assumptions about the way the world works.
The first is that going green means "powering down," or reducing our consumption of energy. Lapp says all we have to do is stop getting energy from fossil fuels and start getting it from renewable sources like the sun.
"Every day the sun supplies us with 15,000 times the amount of energy we're now using in fossil fuels," she says. If everyone had a solar panel or windmill on their roof, we wouldn't be dependent on oil companies and as individuals we'd feel more in control of our own destiny.
The second idea to dispense with, she says, is that going green means an end to economic growth. What we have to do, she says, is change our idea of what growth is. Right now, she says, the Walton family owners of Wal-Mart controls as much wealth as the bottom 40 per cent of the U.S. population. Is it growth if the wealthy families just get wealthier?
There's plenty of room for growth, she says, if we learn
|Contact: Caitlin Kealey|
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences