Jonathon Porritt Letter



Forum for the Future
9 Imperial Square
GL50 1QB

27 May 2004

Dear John

I’m very sorry that I can’t be with you on June 12th.

I have always liked the idea of the Environmental Time Capsule project. One of the most powerful elements embedded in the concept of sustainable development is the need to address three time-frames simultaneously: the past (in terms of dealing with the often horrendous legacy of our abuse of the Earth since the start of the Industrial Revolution), the present (and we all know how that’s proving!), and the future, as in needing to be much more mindful of the rights and expectations of future generations.

I can’t remember whether this particular capsule contained a vial of oil** – the ‘black gold’ that has driven our economies over the last 70 years or so. But it seems to me that we’re now very close indeed to that particular tipping point where the demand for oil starts to exceed the supply of oil, with the inevitable consequences that this will entail.

It’s at that point – when we realise that feeding six or seven or eight billion people without access to cheap fossil fuels is going to be one hell of a stretch, and when the conventional economic development model runs irretrievably into the sand for lack of cheap energy – that people will come to realise that population really was the biggest issue all this time. And that our continuing failure to address that population challenge – wisely, compassionately and democratically – borders on the criminal.

Interesting times ahead!

Yours sincerely

Programme Director



**Note from John Guillebaud:

Jonathon is right in believing that fuel was indeed put into the 1994 TC [it was lighter fuel within a cigarette lighter, representing FIRE, to go along with the sealed containers with EARTH, WATER and AIR (which are mentioned in the section recapping what the TC was about). There was also a petrol cap. Both signified the vital need to switch from fossil fuels to green energy - to avoid disruptive climage change.