A Diminishing World

I’m going to publish some harsh words that speak to the truth of some things that have been weighing on my mind for some time now.

We all live in a world of diminishing resources. Just five short years ago, the planet was a different place, one that offered more possibilities, more potential and more future then it does today. Every passing year, hell, every passing second, we are diminishing our collective futures, especially for the young and the unborn. We’re robbing the future, essentially, by our wonton ways and excessive greed. Our culture is saturated at every level with this type of behavior, which is widely accepted and applauded as being the most desirable way to live. We reward this lifestyle as the very highest level of personal accomplishment.

I think this subject of global diminished (resource depletion) and human expansion is grossly misunderstood. Its significance is such that it creates a cognitive dissonance in our minds, because it forces us to focus on the very root of our combined cultures and our physical existence as a species.

Resource depletion is the logical results of constantly expanding human populations. A lot of finger pointing attempts to blame the Third World, but such activity is in my mind, wasted. The real problem isn’t the Third World and never was. Without the support and intervention of First World nations, the Third World populations would stabilize to their environmental limitations or quite simply, starve, effectively accomplishing the same thing.

The real resource consumers on this planet are First World nations. Using by far the lions share of global resources, they have enabled their own populations to achieve a very high standard of living, and with their support, have enabled the developing nations to strive for the same thing. This democratic approach to global resource depletion needs to be recognized for what it is. But the fault isn’t in the Third World nations desiring what we have. The fault is in the First World nations taking what really isn’t theirs.

Global capitalism has made this all possible. Capitalism is often thought of as good, necessary and productive. Its aberrant behavior however, and capricious discrimination is most often overlooked. Capitalism basically espouses that anything is possible or available, for a price. Everything, in a capitalistic world, is a commodity, even humans. It doesn’t matter if you’re robbing the resource inheritance of existing nations, or the future generations, if you can make a profit on it now, do it by any means possible. Entire national governments have been developed to enable this activity. Our entire global economy is based upon this rather flawed concept.

The abundance of production produced by First World nations has caught more then the eye and fancy of the developing world, which is fast trying to play catch-up in living standards, capitalistic enterprises and resource consumption. You could say that they are following the First World nations economic model and be pretty accurate.

This enables continued expansion of human populations throughout the world, which of course, creates even more resource depletion and destruction. This blog has documented the collapse of global resources throughout the world, as global population growth continues, constantly exacerbating the world resource situation. The outcome of all this unchecked procreation and human consumption should be obvious by now to everyone.

There is something wrong with calling natural assets “resources” by the way. Hidden in the use of that word is humans alone have a right to the resource, to be consumed for their exclusive use and pleasure at the expense of everything else. The intrinsic value of a resources, as it is found in the natural world, is simply not appreciated by most humans, nor is its essential contribution to the existing environment and biological diversity. Putting a price tag on everything from clean air to healthy soils so they can be bought and sold like a commodity is considered progress. Deciding what lives and at what quality, and what dies or what is destroyed is called capitalism. The human propensity to place monetary value upon intrinsic resources and even human existence is the engine which drives the global gluttony and greed.

The issue of resources and resource consumption is a human population issue, but it’s not so cut and dried as that. It’s really a issue of First World populations. Developing countries with exploding populations cannot feed themselves without the assistance of First World nations. These nations by helping developing countries, are making the problem of population and resources worse.

Unless global populations are brought under control, and First world nations are held to the same standards as every other nation on earth, the imbalance of resource depletion, living standards and consumption will continue. Yet, I don’t actually believe in this socialistic form of human government and control because it too is flawed. It presumes too much, such as equality, justice and fairness. These are not traits which humans exhibit in great abundance, despite all the rhetoric that claims otherwise. In point of fact, the vast majority of humans exhibit all the qualities that have created the global situation we are in today, greed, gluttony, irresponsibility, injustice, hatred, violence and jealousy.

Try as we might, we cannot seem to shake off the seven deadly sins that plague us. I suspect that this is really a component of this insane culture we live in. I don’t believe that humans are inherently bad, despite all the commentary I’ve made to their behavior, I think it is an issue that human systems are inherently bad because they are so out of synchronization with the “real” world. Our systems are fatally flawed and prevent us from exhibiting the greatest human “good”. Instead, we’re all forced to practice competitiveness for everything, relationships, resources, ownership and control.

Our world is an artificial fabrication of social structures and institutions, all wrapped up in glass, steel, plastic and rubber. Early human civilizations had the same deadly sins as we did, but they were prohibited by their environment from making a global problem of them. Not so with us, our so-called inept “mastery” of the mistakenly identified “our” environment has allowed us to make far greater and lasting mistakes then they did. But that environmental limitation, or rather their lack of knowledge, didn’t last long as humans pushed the boundaries of technological progress further and further.

What we’re really talking about here is our ability to change our environment. This knowledge was only grasped in rudimentary forms by earlier civilizations. They had something we don’t have any more, a  symbiotic relationship. But that was abandoned in favor of a violent type of relationship – ownership. Sailing ships, for example, gave way to steam powered ships, which gave way to diesel and even nuclear powered ships. Suddenly, the world became a much smaller place. No longer being “local”, our ability to create widespread destruction and global gluttony was exponentially increased, leading to the results we have today of our illusionary “mastery” of the planet.

We’ve practiced this in every field of human endeavor, transportation, communications, medicine, technology and even government. Everything has fallen under the heel of “control” and “manipulation” and “ownership” for our so-called benefit, which ultimately reduces us all.

But human nature didn’t change along with human knowledge. It did not adapt or mature to govern itself as our ability to grasp technological concepts grew exponentially. Instead, human nature remained static, despite our best efforts at creating a “better world”. The world we have now manufactured, is still inhabited by the same sins as before.

We’re now able to make war anywhere on earth, in a matter of minutes. We can communicate with almost anyone instantaneously. And if you need to be “there”, anywhere on the planet, you can arrive in a matter of hours. It’s just a matter of throwing enough technology and enough money at it and it’s “ours” for the having.

Yet, nobody is asking, is this a good thing? Is this really the best humans can do? The side-effects of our attempts at global control may well wipe us out as a species. And getting to this level of mastery has already wiped out tens of thousands of other species. And we’ve yet to truly “arrive” at that dubious place where we can really declare ourselves gods of this universe. But the quest continues, and so does the planetary destruction that has always paid the price for our expansion and inventions. That is the price we’ve had to pay, but in reality, it never was “we” that was paying the price directly. That was and is the price every other species has had to pay and continues to pay for our experiment in global control, but who in hell gave us that right? And as long as this continues, which it will, we will ultimately have have to pay the ultimate price – human extinction.

Is it worth it? I think not. I think we’ve gotten off the right track a long, long time ago. We’ve enabled technological development, but human development has stagnated terribly. We continue our practices of injustice, gluttony and greed and wrap it all up in flags of democracy and patriotism. We create new enemies as fast as we can play new sound bytes, in between inane commercials for useless junk we don’t need, constantly exhibiting our own ancient prejudices and jealousy on large overhead screens.

The world has changed, because we caused it to change, but we haven’t changed one bit. If anything, we’re stupider, dumber and less learned then those who existed before us. We’re more callous, arrogant, indifferent and out of touch with each other then ever before. We’re better “informed”, but strangely, indifferent. We understand almost nothing about the real world that exists outside of our cubicles and our office chairs. Beyond the city limits is the great unknown, that dirty, cold and brutal world we are desperately trying to enslave and master for our own exclusive use. We’re surrounded by shiny toys and distracting baubles to keep us from really thinking, but we’re really only being diminished as being truly human.

We’re entirely dependent now upon this vast social and technological infrastructure we have created, which makes us terribly vulnerable now as a species. We’re in a very dangerous place, but the warnings are being repeatedly ignored.

It is the lack of understanding the interconnections of all life forms on earth to human populations that will ultimately, destroy our species. If other forms of life cannot live here because of our excessive ways, our arrogance and indifference, then neither can we. Once we have irradiated the soils, polluted the atmosphere and the water, destroyed all forms of plant and animal life, all in the fools quest to “have it all”, then we will find ourselves without the sustenance and energy sources which have kept us all alive for millennium.

But long before then, long before that comes even close to happening on a global scale, in fact, right about now, we’ll start experiencing the effects of our supposed “mastery” of the world and all the human and social ills this has caused. In our striving for ‘advancement’, we’re now taking two steps back for every step forward as we continue to fail to see the futility of our efforts and destructive ways.

We indeed are living in a diminishing world and I doubt very much that anything can really change that at this point. The wherewithal to stop, slow down and change direction simply isn’t there. Certainly not in my lifetime or in the lifetime of your children’s children. We’re going to have to ride this one out to the finish.

The present global inheritance and all that it contains, which if we’re honest isn’t just “ours”, is flawed, perhaps fatally in many ways, by our own hand. The need to critically examine our methods and institutions, our cherished beliefs and economic models, our lack of compassion, understanding and empathy, our dependency and the interconnectedness of all life on earth, is more important now then ever before.

It is our continued and persistent failure to understand and accept these conditions and limitations that will doom us and everything humankind has tried to do. I cannot accept that, not ethically, not morally and not responsibly. But I fear, with a growing dread, that I am utterly powerless to do anything at all about it. My audience is tiny, nearly voiceless and without any power whatsoever. The only thing I can change is myself and I struggle with even that.

This demonstrates, to me anyway, just how difficult and impossible a task it is, to truly change the course of human nature and human events. I see no evidence anywhere that anyone else is having any demonstrable success. Therefore, the diminishing world we live in will continue, unabated, despite our “best efforts”, because all of these efforts, now fall woefully short of the radical changes that are truly needed.

We’re past the point of self-control and the ability to steer off into a new direction. This is at best, disheartening and hard for me to accept. I don’t want to be forced to accept a diminishing world and I don’t think you should either. But what we can actually and truly do about it now, at this stage, is beyond me. I simply do not know. I don’t know if anybody does.

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12 thoughts on “A Diminishing World

  • February 10, 2007 at 9:12 pm
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    What you can do at this critical conjuncture of world history is to retreat from doomsdays-doorstep. Save yourself and your loved ones if you can. We probably have no more than 5-6 years at most. Are you in a survival location that will withstand the onslaught of the cascading vectors of destruction: (oil/energy depletion; chaotic climate change and ecolgical devastation; economic crises; political collapse; thermonuclear war; a US civil war; existential mega-crises; post-catastrophe traumatic stresses;the list goes on and you have covered most of them in your series of perceptive and astute blogs.

    I am now researching potential escape routes – possible safe havens or refuges of last resort and the only formula I can think of is: distance, distance, distance. Far away from the madding crowd, far away from demographic density.If you can see street or highway lights at night you are too close. The far remote northern regions of Canada is one possible place. But this cannot be done alone with a small family or even in a group of 10-20 people. You will need a critical mass of at least 100-200 people to make a decent go of it.

    The way I see it an intentional community populated by like-minded individuals (such as Ran Prieur, the Archdruid, Tim Boucher, Jeff Wells, Steve Lagavulin, Matt Savinar, Dmitri Orlov, Michael Ruppert, James Howard Kunstler, Dave Pollard, etc.) in conjunction with a localized aboriginal population that can combine their skills and their resources might be able to make it through the bottleneck crunch that is going to hit us within the next 5-6 years.

    We might as well get use to the doom and gloom now because when it comes we will be ready mentally, physically and spiritually.

  • February 10, 2007 at 10:51 pm
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    A like-minded community of superhero individuals is going to be pretty hard to find. Most of us will have to make do with the best, remote community we can find. This means we must “fit in” to the local culture. The more of us who make this adjustment, the stronger our chosen communities will be. I submit that our basic values will never be lost–but instead–will grow and spread…because we are right! The sooner we begin living in the future, the better.

  • February 11, 2007 at 10:00 am
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    Akira wrote:
    “… cascading vectors of destruction …”
    – Absolutely – 100-200 ‘settler’s huddled (for warmth) in the far north (even assuming Canada would tolerate same- which thye will not) would also be “cascading vectors of destruction” to the local ecosystem”. So, how would that ‘help’ anything – or anyone?.

    bigfoot wrote:
    “The sooner we begin living in the future, the better.”

    Absolutely. The future is cold, dark, hungry, malnourished, diseased and depressingly boring unless one happens to like competeing with bears for grubs and gosslings for mosquitos.

    In a word, the future is deadly (death).

    IMO

  • February 11, 2007 at 10:24 am
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    FWIW, the most self-sufficent populated place I know of in North America is a village called “Usk” in British Columbia (54° 38′ 11.5″ N, 128° 24′ 39.8″ W). I lived there for a couple years in the early 70’s.
    Only crops reliably grown were cabbage and turnips. Only game (meat) is salmon and increasingly rare moose (nothing else except mice) making for 6 possible meal combinations.

    Present population is 10-12 households North of the Skeena River (via seasonal river-powered ferry, no bridge or road access) and 6-8 households on South side of river (road access side). Without continued access to the resources provided via ‘civilization’, the carrying capacity of the area is probably less than half that currently – certainly not more.

  • February 11, 2007 at 1:21 pm
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    lonewolf – I sense in your responses to my suggestion of a northern escape that it would be mere folly. Your own experience plus your updated perspective would seem to justify your views. I, too, lived up in northern Canada (Ontario above Lake Superior) in the late 1960s and my experience there was enriching. I taught high school in a one-industry resource town that also had a small aboriginal reserve population. For the most part these were segregated communities (they still are as I witnessed when I re-visited the town 3 years ago). But there were small pockets of friendship groups between the aboriginals and the white townfolk that serves as a model for others to follow. The secret is how to get along with other people who are quite different from your own kith and kin. One way is to detach yourself from your ethnic group, your name, your family, your job and just simply see yourself as a member of the human race, as a man, woman or child of the universe, as a part of the human species. Do that when you wake up in the morning and see if it changes your consciousness.

  • February 11, 2007 at 5:32 pm
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    1. I don’t ‘think of’ the Superior lakehead region as being “Northern Canada. However, it is plenty rural (ss is all of Canada expect S. Ont and a handful of cities). IMO, most of Ontario is the sort-of-place where each pine-needle has it’s very own mosquito and black-flies swans (could) can/do literally block the sun.
    What else ”

    2. “aboriginals” ??? – are you from downunder (aka, a bloke)? Try “native”.
    That terminology ‘works’ from PEI to QCI (ntm elsewhere)

    3. Not saying survival in the ‘north’ isn’t possible. If one is totally ‘localized’ – from the ‘native’s perspective – before TSHTF And one has viable skill sets that benefits/contributes to the indigenous cause (versus yours), then maybe. OTOH, if one is (or 100 are) “johnny-run-lately(s)’ OR fleeing suburban commando/survivalist type OR just another mellin-derived ex-consuming wannna-be (useless) Eater, then … well .. NOT SO MUCH

    BTW, along the Canadian Shield
    (esp. Manitoba east to Labrador), without DEET (and then some) the black-flies will literlly kill you (and all those with you) within the first summer (that is, if you don’t go insane and “do yourself” first).

  • February 13, 2007 at 10:39 am
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    I have only read half way through at present, but what I have read has great clarity and shows deep insight. I agree very much with what you say here.

    TEOTW.com

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