Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1/40th of one second

I'm thinking of an eleven letter word.

Its the word of the millennium. Its what humans do best.

I took a sociology course last year that I kinda liked. The professor was undoubtedly a conservative so the course took a sort of environmental track. I really liked the guy. He showed us a video that was far and away, the most influential thing that I have ever seen. It could very well be the only thing that I have a definitive opinion about. I think about that video every day. About the truth and reality of it. Manifest Destiny.
I have always been aware of it to some degree, but realizing its massive scale is alarming. Its almost ironic that the thing that is the foundation of our society will be, one day, what is choking out our existence. It's not just about saving plastic bags or using less paper towels. It's so much bigger. People say that one person can make a difference. Bogus. They can't. At least not here, not in something this deeply rooted in each our own little worlds. It needs to be a change of human culture.
We take from the earth like nobody's business. And all we give back is our garbage, buried in huge holes. We take everything that nature has to offer, cut it down, burn it, use it up, and then spit it back in the earth's face. Our culture is so fundamentally distant from nature, from earth, that we've gotten to a point where we don't think of ourselves as part of the natural processes fo the earth, but that we exist entirely outside of them. The natural world has become just some primitive thing that we have to travel through to reach another piece of the world we've created. We have this notion that the earth belongs to us. That it's ours to use and exploit and that the consequences of our ignorance and recklessness don't impact us? Really? But in the end, we're the ones that get burned. The environment will survive, not us. We're the ones living outside our means. The American Dream.

Humans, as an entire species, often disappoint me. There's a lot that I don't like about them, but nonetheless, I am one of them whether I like it or not. I'm not pretending to be a saint either. It has its place within my life just like everybody else's. I have become a whole lot more aware of it. I recognize it in everything that I do. I do what I can, but maybe this economic downturn is a good thing. After all, it's mostly because people aren't buying things. How successful are we really, if we can't survive without buying things?

Guess the word yet?



consumption


3 comments:

Steven Gordon said...

In 1798 a guy named Thomas Malthus predicted that everyone would starve because the population growth was too high. He looked at how much food was being produced and how increasingly faster people were being born and concluded that it would be only a short time before the human race would outstrip the earth's resources and that would be the end. According the the numbers, he was right. The population rate was far higher than the food production rate and the amount of available resources...so why didn't it happen??

Malthus forgot about technological progress. The thing is, as resources become more scarce and thus more expensive (if the free market is allowed to work properly) people come up with new technologies that make use of them more efficiently, and they find new resources previously untapped.

I'm an economist, what can I say, but I really don't think things are nearly as bad as environmentalists make them out to be.

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