We began with silence.
Amongst the eight Friends present, I took ballots of each Friend’s three biggest, self-selected “changes” that they would see presently and upcoming in the world. I tallied these ballots later and this is the result:
1) Climate change (by twice the weighting of the next issue)
2) Human population growth
3) tie – Loss of biodiversity and Peak oil
Eight other issues were well down on the list, and had only one mention, each: positively, the Groundswell of public concern, and negatively the rest: Deforestation, Terrorism, Change in international economic power structure, Industrialization and increased standard of living across the developing world, Corporate greed, Assault on oceans, and Poverty/ Disparity in wealth.
These results fit with what I expected. I understand all the concerns to be valid and important, but that the top ones do likely reflect the biggest or most momentous changes indeed going on in the world today. To have these (four) biggest changes in front of us will help us in navigating our discussion, throughout all six queries, by giving us a common focus as needed. And this focus we have determined together, within our own group process.
We moved on to discussion of Query 1, a general one to get us started: “How has global change affected our communities and ourselves?” Following are transcripted responses:
One Friend likes seeing people growing, slowly over time.
There are issues of anxiety – so much of change is ‘bad.’ For example, one could be blown up in Times Square.
One response to the article (see assigned reading, the study-article from Julian Stargardt) is that there will be ‘winners’ and there will be ‘losers’- or will there only be losers, as all in the end suffer or become extinct?
There is a division between those who don’t think about issues, and those attempting to be aware. This leads to a feeling that ‘they won’t listen!’
There will be changes in the international economic power structure. For example, China will grow stronger than the U.S., as an economic power. How do we get used to this, when it’s China?
Pollution is the main cause of death in China.
The oil shortage will have a big effect.
One Friend stated being conscious about power-usage.
Another makes use of the public bus system, and walks or bikes.
There will continue to be big global change in the communications technologies.
How would we cope in a different environment? How resilient are we?
Climate change is a question of equity: see the effects around the world.
The focus on how one’s own self will cope is negligible. The bigger issue is on how we will all get along.
We are taking from the future. What about our grandchildren?
This are notes from the brainstorming. They do give us a good start in thinking about the issues of global change, as we see them whilst coming in to this series of query discussions.
We concluded the meeting in silence, and then shared a simple potluck meal.