The Inherent Limitation in Civilization
by Jim Morton
Have you ever thought about how nature produced abundant, diverse life for hundreds of millions of years, but then in the few thousand years civilization has existed, it has continuously and increasingly consumed the life system of the earth? Our species has become so dependent on civilization to help ensure and facilitate our individual survival that we are psychologically conditioned to believe civilization is an evolutionary destiny that promises advancement and improvement, but ample evidence shows something is going wrong. If you just consider the impact our increasing population has on earth, you have to realize that civilization, as we know it, is fundamentally unsustainable. At the start of civilization there were one or two million people on the planet. By the year 1960 there were 3 billion, and in 50 years that has more than doubled to 7 billion people who are consuming and polluting as much we want. Only a few hundred years ago herds of animals and flocks of birds stretched as far as the eye could see. The oceans were teaming with sea life, and pristine forests covered the lands, filling the clean air with oxygen. Today, 75% of forests – our primary oxygen source – are gone, and we continue to cut down or burn down over 100,000 acres a day. We are further reducing our breathable air by burning up into the atmosphere 80 million barrels of oil, 20 million tons of coal, and more than one billion cubic meters of methane gas – everyday. We are draining the oceans of life at the rate of 100,000 tons of fish everyday, and every year we cause the extinction of countless species. This behavior is not normal or natural. We know this because we have had hundreds of millions of years of natural abundance. So, what is the secret ingredient in nature that generates life, but is eluding us now? lt’s Balance. We tend to dismiss balance as an abstract concept, but in reality it is a central property of the universe, and it is essential to the function of all systems, from solar systems to eco systems to metabolic systems. Without balance, there is no life. But how do we know when we are in balance? It’s not determined by machines, or man made regulations. lt is fundamentally an organic, instinctive process. The basic contradiction to civilization is that it has to restrict instinctive behavior in order to exist. The restriction and repression of our instinctive survival responses causes imbalance and dysfunction in the life process. The fact is, the more we are separated from nature and natural reactions, the less aware, functional, and alive we become. We then attempt to compensate for this “lack of life” by consuming more life, more resources. This perpetuates the development of more civilization, which causes more restriction of our natural behavior, then more dysfunction, more consumption, on and on. We end up consuming our magnificent, finite life source – earth – and ironically we become less alive in the process. It’s a fine mess we are in, but what can be done about it? We are not going to return to living solely by instinct, without clothes, fire, or even stone tools. The genie is out of the bottle. Civilization and technology are here to stay, in some form, as long as the human species is around. Here is the critical point we have to understand about our situation: Our only hope of avoiding a rapidly approaching catastrophic collapse of civilization, and the further crippling of Earth’s life system is for our entire species to accept the fact that civilization is inherently unbalanced. We can then proceed to take logical , premeditated steps to reducing the effects of the imbalance. This will result in the reduction of actual system imbalance.
The three main steps to take are:
1. Make all sources of energy we use renewable and nonpolluting.
2. Recycle and re-use as much as possible, and
3. Steadily reduce the world population to a much more sustainable one billion people. These measures will greatly improve the quality of all life, ours included, by rebuilding the life generating system of Earth. Also, the reduced population will increase out individual freedom, allowing for improved balanced function. lt’s simple, once we know what to do.