Working towards a sustainable society
The charismatic speaker, John Perkins, gave a rousing speech that called for us all to use our talents and follow our passion to work towards a sustainable, just and peaceful world.
John’s background as an economic hitman gives him an unique insider’s view of the corruption endemic in the big corporations. He told us that back in the first 100 years of the US Constitution, there was a legal statute that each company had a duty of care for the people working for them and the surrounding communities. And that his early training in economics always emphasised that profit should go hand-in-hand with social welfare and corporate responsibility. But in the 70s and 80s that all changed as profit became the only motivator for the majority of the Western World’s corporations.
His job involved arranging massive loans to Third World countries for large development contracts being handled by US corporations. Most of the money was channeled back to these corporations leaving behind environmental and social disasters and an enormous debt for the impoverished countries to pay back. Even though he was living the veritable life of Reilly, flying first class, staying in luxury hotels and eating in the finest restaurants, he had to rely on valium to get him through this life of corruption and deceit.
He decided to change his life around by using his own talent of writing and speaking to become an advocate for change in this world. He urged us all to use whatever talents we had to fight for a better world for our children, as there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that you are making a positive difference to our planet. He also made the point that we need to respect every sentient being on this planet, as we all face the same issues of climate change, environmental destruction and corporate greed.
Taking to the streets
Nestled amongst the stalls promoting Fair Trade chocolate, we came across a small desk being run by advocates of Occupy Los Angeles. Contrary to the populist media image, they were not dirty, smelly, homeless drop-outs but well-spoken, well dressed professionals who clearly had a passion for making a difference. The lady we spoke to wouldn’t have looked out of place at a ladies lunch in Santa Monica! She told us how there were a small proportion of homeless people who had joined the OccupyLA cause, but that the majority of people were just ordinary folks who wanted to have a say in the future direction of this world.
Their aim is ‘to protest the blatant injustices perpetuated by the 1% – the economic and political elites – whose actions affect all of us, the 99%’. Their intention is to engage in non-violent civil disobedience whilst calling for a radical socio-political and economic system that gives a greater chance of equality.
Maybe you could say that their ideology does not really fit in with the green movement, but there is definitely a common ground of fighting against corporate greed. And the issue of sustainability is central to forcing a sense of responsibility for the planet’s future onto those in power, be it financial, political or social.
Another inconvenient truth
It was pleasing to meet another group of people who are following a similar path to me, in raising awareness of the link between meat and dairy production and global warming. Mercy for Animals‘ main purpose is that of defending the rights of animals, but, like me, they are willing to inform people about all the issues linked to eating animals without taking the moral high ground.
A couple of interesting facts from their leaflet:
- switching to a vegan diet decreases your greenhouse gas emissions more than by switching to a hybrid car
- livestock farming accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions whilst transport only accounts for 13.5%
You can read more about how a quarter of your carbon footprint is produced from the food you eat at Food’s Carbon Footprint.
Anyone else attend the Green Festival? What inspired you and will you be making any changes to follow a greener way of life?