When we look at the realities of humanity’s rampant extraction and consumption of resources, we see that as a species within the global ecosystem, humanity is taking far more than it’s replenishing.
Once all humans lived in direct relationship with the land and understood that our lives depended on its health. Now, our artificial isolation has allowed us to collectively forget that our species only survives as a member of delicate ecosystems. In our false senses of superiority and security, we’ve come to treat dirt as just so much empty ground to traverse and develop, assume water and food are just another economic product that will be available for purchase in perpetuity, and dismiss the byproducts of our lifestyles as if they can just be whisked away without consequence when we’re through with them.
When this attitude shapes our decision-making as a species, we feel free to create urban seas of asphalt that bake in the sun and force rainwater into wasteful flash floods. We divert streams and reservoirs away from the environment into bottling plants and golf courses, and pollute water tables with toxic wastes from mining and fracking. We farm endless fields of monoculture crops soaked in pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that strip and poison once-rich topsoil.
In the words of Jane Goodall:
What are we doing to our planet? You know, the famous scientist, E. O. Wilson said that if every person on this planet attains the standard of living of the average European or American, we need three new planets. Today, they are saying four. But we don’t have them. We’ve got one.
And what’s happened? I mean, the question here is, here we are, arguably the most intelligent being that’s ever walked planet Earth, with this extraordinary brain, capable of the kind of technology that is so well illustrated by these TED Conferences, and yet we’re destroying the only home we have. (TEDGlobal 2007)
We humans have developed the power to throw the planet into a state of such furious overproduction in a few select areas and complete depletion in others that age-old cycles careen wildly out of balance. At our current rates, we’re on track to consume and pollute until we’ve utterly ravaged the very ecosystems that sustain us.