By the 70s cheese had commercially turned orange – orange colouring was added into cheese to make it sell better!
Food was full of pesticides, additives, colourants …
If the world could have been transformed into a flat plane covered by a homogenous sterile grid for greatest engineering efficiency, it would have been engineered into that.
Society itself would have been engineered into a Soulless Ant Heap if that had been possible!
Sterility and loss of individuality was becoming the order of the day …
Fortunately the Great Western Revolution had begun, rock music and the hippies played their part and the seeds were sown for a transformation of society.
It was the necessary chaotic stimulus, and looking back we should not be too harsh and throw the Baby out with the LSD Bathwater.
As Joni Mitchell foresaw it was possible for “… bombers riding shotgun in the sky” to turn into “butterflies”.
Schumacher saw the inevitable conflict that would arise and the choices that would be faced.
He realised that the economy of those times would be unsustainable and that Nature’s capacity to deal with pollution was not unlimited. He saw a whole brave new world of appropriate technology, a concept in those times which was bizarre, even Luddite!
Climate Change as a concept had not yet been conceived of … cellular technology and the Internet unimaginable!
The PC had not yet arrived … although the HP35 calculator had appeared replacing weird mechanical calculation devices with handles that you turned forwards for addition and backwards for subtraction!
The only wind power that was visible was the iconic rusty windmill dotting the Karoo landscapes in South Africa, squeaking, un-oiled alone in the breeze …
It was a crass, mindless age, Nature Lovers were seen as cranks and hippies, bunny lovers and tree huggers.
Young white South Africans avoiding Apartheid conscription were being welcomed by the San Francisco Mayor as the "moffies" that they had been wrongly labelled as - and not as brave principled supporters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Hippies and Moffies, all idealistic fools with no sense of Reality.
Looking back, Schumacher is an Unsung Hero … a Giant of his time.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban Campus had embraced some of these ideas in the 70s.
The Department of Economics under Gavin Maasdorp together with Errol Harhoff of the Department of Architecture had run a project studying a “spontaneous settlement” (aka “squatter camp” in Apartheidspeak) outside Durban.
The Department of Town and Regional Planning got involved too.
Malugazi, an empty area above Prospecton, spontaneously combusted to house 10 000 plus souls in a single year around a solitary water tap on a bus route.
The micro-economy and the physical shelter were analysed, research activities which under the Harsh Boot of Apartheid were considered “loonie”.
But Schumacher had already reached us … and looking back I can see now by just how much!
Today we increasingly embrace renewable energy, right sizing, appropriate technology, all for the sake of Sustainability.
Our very own Hot Boxes are an example of appropriate technology, solar illumination another example saving lives from the inevitable candle falling over in wind swept informal housing.
State run energy monopolies have had to acknowledge a new era and embrace the demand for change.
China leads the world in Wind Power, its installation teams being able to erect giant wind turbines in a mere couple of days and soon they will be producing more wind energy than Eskom's total electricity production.
Oil has brought out the worst in the Politics of Mankind and will now face more and more competition from renewable energy.
And Cheese is no longer Orange - but its Original, Natural White!
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