My friend said He loves the earth. He gets recharged by spending time in a natural setting. Me too.
Then I read Jared Diamond's book, "Collapse". (I also read his first one, " Guns, Germs and Steel". )
Each book is a well researched report on the topic . "Collapse" addresses societies and decisions made by the people and their leaders , that lead to success or collapse of their culture. It takes me at least a month to read and digest the information in these texts. I think they are college text books, or they should be.
There is no disagreeing with the author. He does His research well and reports his findings in a balanced, non-judgemental way. The conclusions are disturbing, although the author is a cautious optimist. I'm not so sure.
In our arrogance, We feel that the US culture is the best. Most people in the US over eat, drive a gas guzzling car, live in a house too big but it impresses the neighbors. We use throw away products, adding to the garbage problem. We guzzle energy and natural resources way out of proportion to our numbers. The word "glutton" comes to mind.
According to history, that is when the culture collapses, when population is highest and resources are used at a faster rate than they can be sustained.
There are at least three factors that bring a culture down. They are : leaders more obsessed with their own power than their responsibility to their people , not protecting the country's natural resources, and not planning for long term. The second factor is a population explosion...more people than the land and its resources can sustain. The third factor is a destruction of habitat by over use, over fishing, over harvesting.
Historically, civilizations have collapsed many times, but because of their geographical isolation, the rest of the world went on OK. Today, We are all one global village. If this civilization collapses, We'll all go down. We're interconnected.
The result of a civilization collapsing is disease, war and famine, reduction of a living standard, starvation and even cannibalism. People do what they have to do to survive. Historically, some people survived and migrated elsewhere. Today, there is no "elsewhere".
My friend wants to stay and protect the earth, to enjoy nature. I'm a pessimist. I think the problem is too huge to be solved by even the total number of informed people who can be effective. ...because of the sheer number of people who are ignorant and desperate. Think globally. There are teeming hoards of people out there, making more babies.
Everyone thinks they can have all the children they want. Some religions encourage this, because sheer numbers add to their political power. Third world cultures want all the trimmings found in first world cultures. They think they deserve it. They want to raise their standard of living. Who can blame them. However, it is clear to me that the earth can support only so many people and still sustain our natural world. It is clear to the author, as well.
Do you think that people will accept the fact that We have to reduce the number of people living on the earth? Some countries are now enforcing small families. Think of China. ..and some populations on Pacific islands. They can sustain their numbers for centuries, if they do not go past a certain number. (China cheats. They put up their daughters for adoption outside of the country.)
Do you think that people will accept the fact that they will have to reduce the amount of natural resources that they consume?
I don't think the world can solve this problem. Failure to solve the problem means a certainty of war and famine. If a country has a resource another country needs, there will be war.
Just like our animal ancestry: Each male needs territory to provide food for his female to assure the continuation of his blood line. Same thing for us. We are still a part of nature.
One difference between historical society collapse and today, is the stakes are higher. Not only is there no place to immigrate to, We have more dangerous means of destroying ourselves. Think of nuclear bombs, chemical contaminants, the poisons We pour into our water, land and air. We can collapse very quickly. A virus starting in the mid-east, can spread around the world in less than a year, because of international travel.
I don't want to live on the earth without polar bears and ice caps. I need wild places to exist, even if I never visit them, except by a television program. I don't want to live with global warming, pollution, floods and tornadoes. I don't want to live in a society where I have to defend myself from my neighbor. I don't want to have to act aggressively or I won't get my share. Basically, I don't want to come back here.
Our choices seem to be to have as many children as We can produce and cut the pie into smaller and smaller pieces for each one. (the aggressive ones will get your piece of the pie, as Well as their own.) Or We can reduce our numbers, study the natural world and see what the sustainable rate of harvest is.
Since I don't believe that We can get our act together, I am hoping to reincarnate on another world, where people have evolved out of wars of aggression...where they have learned to cooperate with each other for the good of society and for the good of the individual. A pastoral world, peaceful, where children can grow up unafraid and well guided by the adults in the community. That world, isn't here.