Let’s see what Dr. Mayer Hillman — eminent architect, town planner and Senior Fellow Emeritus since 1992 at the Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster where he worked for at least thirty years — had to offer in an interview that appeared in The Guardian last week. By Patrick Barkham Full text with illustrations at https://bit.ly/2FjpEbI
W’re doomed,” says Mayer Hillman with such a beaming smile that it takes a moment for the words to sink in. “The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.”
Hillman, an 86-year-old social scientist and senior fellow emeritus of the Policy Studies Institute, does say so. His bleak forecast of the consequence of runaway climate change, he says without fanfare, is his “last will and testament”. His last intervention in public life. “I’m not going to write anymore because there’s nothing more that can be said,” he says when I first hear him speak to a stunned audience at the University of East Anglia late last year.
One day, a very long time ago and in a faraway place you have probably never heard of, or so the legend goes, a huge forest fire was raging all around the countryside. All the animals were terrified, running around in circles, crying and helplessly watching the impending disaster.
But there in the middle of the flames, and above all the cowering animals, was one tiny hummingbird busy flying from a small pond to the fire, each time fetching a few drops with its beak to throw on the flames. And then again/ And then again. And yet again.
After a certain time, an old grouchy armadillo, annoyed by this ridiculous useless agitation on the part of the hummingbird, cried out: “Tiny bird! Don’t be a fool. It is not with those minuscule drops of water one after the other that you are going to put out the fire and save us all! ”
To which the hummingbird replied, “Could be. But I’m still going to do my bit”.
Out there in the real world life is a complex interactive system in which things do not exist in isolation but depend heavily on each other. As Miller and Scott put it: “A complex adaptive system is a system in which a perfect understanding of the individual parts does not automatically convey a perfect understanding of the whole system’s behavior”. Which means that if our goal is to create a strong and wise policy for sustainable transport in and around our cities we need to change our tools and perspective as well as our behaviour. As the Brundtland Report, “Our Common Future” told us already a full generation ago . . .
The following is taken from the peer review edition of the forthcoming book “BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transport to Your City“. For a copy drop a line to betterchoices@ecoplan,org.
From the New York Times, 22 June 2011: “Former Vice President Al Gore sharply criticized President Obama as lacking leadership on climate changein a magazine essay published online Wednesday, saying his policies had been little more effective than those of President George W. Bush. In the 7,000-word article in Rolling Stone, Mr. Gore said . . . ” Continue reading