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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The decline and fall of civilisation as we know it?

The western world has amassed a huge ecological debt over the last 30 years according to the most recent WWF Living Planet report. In 2003 the global human population used 25% more natural resources than the planet could replenish. However in western countries like the UK and NZ the per capita figure is more like 200% (i.e. we would need 3 planets for all of us to live like the UK population does in perpetuity). This growing ecological debt will eventually lead to a catastrophic collapse of the entire world ecosystem -- and according to the WWF's biannual Living Planet Report that could happen as early as the middle of this century.

Of course the exact length of time an ecological breakdown on a global scale may take to unfold is very difficult to estimate, but the fact of global over-consumption seems clear. The timing of ecological collapse may be uncertain, but at the rate we are consuming, the end point is inevitable unless we begin to consume in a sustainable way.

There have been five previous mass extinction events in the history of life on Earth. The last was 65 million years ago, bringing to an end the age of the dinosaurs. Right now, in our lifetimes, the activities of the human population could well bring about the sixth mass extinction event in Earth's billions of years of history.

According to the Living Planet Report, terrestrial land species have declined by 31% between 1970 and 2003. In the same period the human population has almost doubled from 3.7 billion to over 6 billion people. There is no doubt that many of these species will recover is we learn how to curb our demanding appetite for resources. The question really is whether we will be able to agree that a solution to this problem is necessary and worthy of our undivided attention.

Read this BBC article for more information about the Living Planet Report.

Its virtually impossible to report on this kind of thing without feeling depressed. We are living in a time of amazing scientific and technological breakthoughs, unprecedented access to information and despite these facts the global population exhibits an even more amazing collective denial and wishful distrust of the growing body of scientific evidence. There was a previous time in human history when the population grew fat, lazy and blind to their own shortcomings. It was the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Here is a short quote from one set of theories about what brought about this decline:
The Roman economy was basically Raubwirtschaft, plunder economy, which was based on looting existing resources rather than producing anything new. The Empire relied on booty from conquered territories (this source of revenue ending, of course, with the end of Roman territorial expansion)

This theory seems plausible to me, but for alternative theories about the decline of the Roman Empire feel free to check out this article.

1 Comments:

  • At 2:01 AM, Blogger sushil yadav said…

    The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

    The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

    Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
    Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
    Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
    Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.


    Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

    If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

    Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.


    When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

    There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

    People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

    Emotion ends.

    Man becomes machine.



    A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.



    FAST VISUALS /WORDS MAKE SLOW EMOTIONS EXTINCT.

    SCIENTIFIC /INDUSTRIAL /FINANCIAL THINKING DESTROYS EMOTIONAL CIRCUITS.

    A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY CANNOT FEEL PAIN / REMORSE / EMPATHY.

    A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY WILL ALWAYS BE CRUEL TO ANIMALS/ TREES/ AIR/ WATER/ LAND AND TO ITSELF.


    To read the complete article please follow either of these links :

    PlanetSave

    EarthNewsWire


    sushil_yadav

     

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