The challenge of this millennium

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(This is the second installment in the new articles collection of the renewed EOS website)

When this article was written, in the first of September 2013, the human civilization had already used up the equivalent of all the biomass produced during this year. For soon to be forty years, we have utilized more biomass than the Earth has renewed for every passing year, which has led to an ever increasing ecological deficit.

 

It is estimated that thousands of unique species are vanishing every year. The CO2 emission rate is still increasing, as new powerplants driven by coal and oil are opened every week. The oceans are stained by floating continents of decomposing plastic materials. Huge areals of pristine forests – the lungs of the Earth – are being replaced with field after field of monocultural crops, often seeped with poisons. Industrial chemicals and heavy metals are polluting our water reservoirs.

 

On an overall basis, natural systems built on interdependent relationships between species, arranged in elaborate, self-sustaining webs of life, are now on an increasing rate being replaced by linear systems, where resources are extracted, transported half-way cross the planet, refined, transported yet again and then sold to consumers.

 

The purpose behind that process is not to improve the livelihood of humanity, to benefit scientific or cultural development, to raise the infrastructure of the world or to explore the stars. Any improvements in these areas are secondary to the two main goals – to sustain a debt-based global monetary system, and to continue to enrich a camarilla of banks, institutions and multi-national corporations.

 

At this point, 1% of Earth’s population is controlling over 40% of the resources of the planet.

 

Over 1 billion of Earth’s seven billion inhabitants are starving, while another 2 billion are undernourished, despite that we collectively are producing enough food to sustain 12 billion people. Instead of seeing that those who are hungry are fed, we deliberately waste, burn and drown mountains of food every week, just so new refreshments can fill up the shelves at the supermalls quick enough, so that we can subsidize dubious industries and uphold an industrialised meat industry which is hazardous and violently repulsive.

 

Some of the proponents of the current system are claiming that whatever wrongs it has, it has managed to give more people than ever before access to education and healthcare, comparing to the lives of hardships suffered by generations during the pre-industrial eras of human history.

 

Yet, that presents a false dilemma. The choice is not between our current system and a 19th century agrarian society. The choice is between this current system and a system which is less wasteful, more sustainable and more humanitarian. There is nothing in “human nature” which compels us to mismanage the planet and to continuously abuse ourselves and underachieve.

 

The choice is between what we are achieving now, and what we know that we can achieve.

 

What we know that we must achieve.

 

The other “uncomfortable” facts that the forces fighting to uphold the status quo have wilfully chosen to ignore, is the fact that with the current rate of exploitation, the current biosphere will collapse at the latter half of the 21st century.

 

Such a collapse will mean a perfect storm of developments that would see the productive capacity of the Earth reduced. This will mean a global depression that very well can sweep aside the collective wealth that humanity has accumulated, leading to unrest on a planetary scale and a reduction of the human being to a  mere struggle for daily survival.

 

Why is it so that we humans, despite that we ought to know better, are destroying 65 million years ago of accumulated biological progress, in order for a mere two and a half centuries of exponential industrial growth? And all that to allow a small fraction of the Earth’s population the sovereignty of most of the productive capacity?

 

Stay tuned.

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