Practical challenges

Let’s now take a brief look at the massive practical challenges we will have to deal with on the road to building a sustainable global society. The practical challenges to the four theoretical solutions outlined on the previous page will be discussed in the following four paragraphs.

When it comes to shifting consumption patterns, the primary obstacle is the massive culture of consumerism that has taken over the world. Hundreds of millions of people have been totally indoctrinated to chase the impossible pipe-dream of happiness-through-consumption despite mounting evidence that we are destroying our environment, economy, society, health and financial security in the process. Breaking out of this insane indoctrination will be very difficult indeed, especially considering that ever-increasing consumption is an implicit assumption in our current economic model.

The primary challenge with restoring system efficiency is that there are simply way too many people making way too much money from destroying our environment, our economy and our society. Healthcare spending accounts for nearly 20% of US GDP and, even though the correct healthcare practices can add at least 5 years to American lifespan and slash spending to a mere 4% of GDP, the powerful people raking in that remaining 16% will not relinquish it easily. Similarly, America spends close to 5% of its GDP on military and even though 1% will be more than enough to ensure national security, those raking in the remaining 4% will definitely not just let it go. Also, cutbacks in the public sector will be met with massive protests as is currently the case in Spain. And finally, planned obsolescence lies at the very heart of our self-destructive culture of unthinking consumerism. Letting this go requires a complete cultural mindset shift which definitely will not happen overnight. 

Regarding debt and speculation, it must be well understood that money rules the world and our debt instruments give people (and governments) the power to wield ten times more money (power) than they actually have. Those who have been totally corrupted by this power will not easily relinquish it. Take a look at the video below to get an idea of how much power these speculators actually wield (the computer voice is a bit annoying at first, but the video actually gets quite entertaining later on). And yes, in addition to the massive threat posed by the ballooning derivatives market, our deeply ingrained culture of consumerism also makes the building of financial resilience through saving and investment very challenging indeed, leaving the vast majority of the population dangerously exposed to the inevitable collapse. 

Finally, Europe is currently showing just how challenging it is to implement austerity within a culture totally corrupted by consumerism and entitlement. In addition, presidents are elected based on outrageous spending promises, definitely not on realistic austerity. And with regard to family planning in developing nations; well, there are simply tremendous structural and cultural challenges to be overcome in poorly developed communities that still see many children as a form of wealth. Breaking down these challenges within the required timeframe will be very difficult.

Individual action

The immense practical challenges touched on above are basically the reason why I wrote the One in a Billion project. Honestly, the only practical solution I can see is a peaceful grassroots revolution of concerned individuals changing their lifestyles and talking to their friends. It is a totally indisputable fact that happy, healthy and wealthy living is synonymous with sustainable living. People simply need to wake up to this blindingly obvious fact and start incorporating it in their day-to-day consumption patterns. In this way, concerned consumers can change our economy from the ground up.

Indeed, by supporting the green industry, taking excellent care of personal health and being financially responsible, individual consumers have the power to save our civilization. It really is very easy and (just one more time) it leads directly to a happy, healthy and wealthy life.

The One in a Billion project has been especially designed to make such individual action as easy and rewarding as at all possible. All the necessary information is available completely free of charge on this blog. Please try out this philosophy and please share it with your friends. I am fully convinced that gradually implementing these sustainable lifestyle choices is the single most important thing that any one of the richest billion individuals on planet Earth can be doing right now.

5 thoughts on “Practical challenges”

  1. Thanks for all the time you have spent compiling this very challenging blog, Schalk.

    The video about derivatives is very scary but, above all, one thing on this final page stands out; where you say: “Europe is currently showing just how challenging it is to implement austerity within a culture totally corrupted by consumerism and entitlement.

    2 or 3 weeks ago, I responded to someone invoking complex conspiracy theory to avoid the unpalatable truth that “rather than living in an Age of Enlightenment, we live in an Age of Entitlement – one in which people constantly assert their rights but avoid their responsibilities…”

    As you say, this is going to be very hard to dismantle but, if we do not attempt to deconstruct it, the demolition process will be very far from being controlled (or controllable).

    1. Wow, that phrase about enlightenment and entitlement is really smooth. I might steal that one for some further posts 😉

      But yes, we have a very sticky mindset problem on our hands where people have become completely used to consuming much more value than they produce. Dismantling this debilitating and unsustainable social norm will be very hard.

  2. I am a latecomer to this site, and may be irresponsible in leaving comments so much later. If so, please advise.

    Geometric progressions cannot be maintained in an environment of limited resources.

    Jonas Salk wrote “Survival of the Wisest” some decades ago, describing this reality in concrete terms, with examples taken from various populations, from bacteria in a Petri dish, to Lynx in Canada, Lemmings, and tribes of people.

    And of course, Jerrod Diamond wrote “Collapse” a few years ago, which should be read by everyone, imho..


    “Dismantling” the system will probably occur only with great destruction and societal collapse, although I hope I’m full of (it). Leonard Cohen’s “The Future” song.

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A DIY guide to saving our world while building a happy, healthy and wealthy life

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