Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Guest Post: Putting Ourselves Under The Microscope

In response to my post yesterday, The Mound of Sound offered the following observations, which I am featuring as a guest post. The Mound has made an intensive study of the environmental and climatic perils we have created, and his insights are ones none of us can afford to ignore:
I fear, Lorne, that we have devolved into a culture of collapse. We plainly cannot keep going as we have since the Reagan/Thatcher/Mulroney era ushered in the scourge of neoliberalism. Yet, having been drawn in, there's no sign of the vision much less the popular critical mass to change and, when time is running out and our options are being steadily foreclosed, that can be fatal.

Jared Diamond contends that when past societies have collapsed it was usually the result of a choice and, in many cases, the disastrous outcome was foreseen. We can choose to conduct ourselves in ways today that we know or ought to know will spell disaster a generation or two from now. Our bacchanal of consumption is premised on "because we can" with scant regard to whether we should. We are just lucky our own grandparents were never empowered to wreak this sort of devastation on us.

Science tells us that mankind first exceeded Earth's resource carrying capacity when our population passed 3+ billion in the 70s. We're now at 7+ billion heading to 9 and beyond. To compound this, our per capita consumption footprint has swelled and continues to grow. Yet our overpopulation and over-consumption has come at a direct, although somewhat deferred (for the moment), cost.

The signs are tangible, palpable, measurable and, in some critical instances, visible to the naked eye from the International Space Station cupola. Rivers that no longer run to the sea. Red tides and blue green algae blooms in our lakes and along our sea coasts. Once fertile soil that now lies exhausted, creating spreading desertification. The blight of deforestation. The collapse of global fisheries as our industrial fleets fish "down the food chain."

We know how this ends but not exactly when. James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia Hypothesis, predicts mankind will number in a few hundred million by the end of this century. That's a massive die-off. He has warned that the only way to blunt this result entails what he calls "sustainable retreat." He uses this term to describe a social transformation away from our excess consumerism into "living small." Small houses, shared transportation, living local, everything necessary to sharply pare our individual and collective ecological footprint.

I've seen no sign that we would entertain this prescription. Your soon to be neighbour confirms this view. Our leaders still quest for 3% annual growth in GDP. We live in a political/economic construct in which negative growth is worse than death. We cannot conceive of how to live other than in the mode that has brought us to this precipice.
The following video, discussing how 2016 is on track to be the hottest year on record, helps to reinforce the consequences of our heedless ways:

Finally, Marie over at A Puff of Absurdity says that despite our natural tendencies, we cannot afford a 'business-as-usual' reaction to the perils engulfing us.


  1. You attract wise readers, Lorne -- present company excepted.

    1. Your are too modest, Owen. I read your blog everyday. Your wry commentary and skillful precis of articles give me information that all informed citizens need.