Prior to expounding the virtues of nature, people need to spend a few days in the rain. Most people of the western world today live in isolation from almost everything they depend on for survival. The largest portion of our population live in urban settings of offices at optimum temperature and homes with thermostats set at comfort. Food is accessed in a similar manner, clean perfect environment no fuss no muss. Homes they live in and all that has gone into the construction of those homes, find little room in the psyche of people who’s life experience has generated a complacency that is absent even the most elementary concerns related earth, wind and fire. This populace is fertile ground for miss information, absent the witness of nature’s immense capacity to exist and create, having never really been exposed to nature absent a means of retreat to relative comfort, people can be convinced of nature’s fragility where in fact resiliency and power exists.
Nature’s perfection constrained the minds of the essentialists in the past and a similar mode of thought is constraining us presently. The essentialists viewed nature as the perfect condition, unchanging from a point of origin. This view served to detract from their ability to observe the dynamic at play with nature and confounded their ability to respond to the natural world effectively. Similarly the environment movement now is contributing to a “perfection in stasis” view of nature, which is preventing progressive use of the natural world. Dialog from children and their keepers reveal the prevailing view that nature has wisdom. This is a dangerous ideal to allow exist, as nature is a series of events that occur on such a massive scale they are nearly outside perception. There are patterns that emerge as the multitude of existing things react to each other, in the same way a river finds patterns in response to the various geophysical influences. The water and the physical world react to each other to trigger events, neither the water nor the physical world hold wisdom. This seems blatantly oblivious, yet the idealist view of a wise nature is prominent and is gaining more prominence as people propagate this distorting doctrine.
The inclination to revert to an angelic past where the world was harmonious and humans existed as one with nature resides deeply in the culture of many in the preservationist wings of the environmental movement. The point that needs to be made sharply is, the angelic past is absent in history. Human existence is better now than it has ever been because of our mastery of our environment, and nature has changed, as it always has and always will. While seeking action in compliance with nature, humans should seek to expand their lot to become even more the master of their environment.
Sustainability and the power of apocalyptic thinking.
Sustainability is the most prevalent word in contemporary lexicon related to the environment. There are times when we can actually measure sustainability, in the case of harvesting a forest we can calculate, based on historical data, the rate of growth a given forest type and then harvest at a rate within that rate of growth to achieve a “sustainable” circumstance. Often the word is used in broad terms however, “the way we are using the earth is unsustainable”, like somehow the world is ending – it is all running out. This brings a whole new level of dread to the human psyche. A narrative is developing that says that, by our very existence we are contributing to our own end. This is bringing about a drive to acetic existence; unless we cease the utilization of all the comforts our mastery of our environment has provided, we are contributing to our end. To model the sum total of human endeavour is certainly outside the ability of any mortal, to model the universe and its limitations or potentiality, is most certainly outside the ability of any mortal. So why has the assertion that, what we are doing on earth is unsustainable, considered valid? An every bit as valid assertion is that the earth is a robust environment of massive resource able to provide human’s with an abundant life. Why are we hampering our society with a psychological hobble of unsubstantiated limit, when there is a track record now of a steady upward trend in human existence with nature functioning and providing.
Sustainability is really a moving target, the land base required to support a hunter gather population is far greater than a land base required to support a comparable population with agriculture. The determining factor in this regard is technology as it relates to effectively harnessing natural systems. It is important to note, if human population had stayed constant at any point in time, modern agriculture technology would facilitate utilization of smaller and smaller portion of the earth’s surface for sustenance. Modern technology is a friend to the environment by increasing the productive intensity of every given acre under cultivation. Granted the collective effect of technology in general has facilitated more people to feed, that fails to diminish the fact that technology serves to satisfy human requirements in the context of the environment at large. To date technology has always addressed sustainability by providing humans with more effective ways to utilize natural systems. If at any point in time this ceases to be the case, then the massive forces of nature will dictate the outcomes, then maybe the preservationists will have their way and the Anthropine will be over.