It seems like every day, week, or month I see in the mainstream press another matter-of-factly presented alert that a species, an ecosystem, a critical planetary cycle is out of whack, with likely devastating consequences, often sooner rather than later.
Polar bears, sage grouse, the North Banks fishery, the western Pacific, major river systems, major aquifers, rain forests, ocean levels rising, desertification, carbon dioxide/global warming, glaciers melting; and the list grows and grows over time with the pace of new alarms itself increasing alarmingly.
And the consuming public is told by their government that the solution to "terrorism" is to go shopping. More ways to shop are devised through electronic and cyber-media and advertising.
The Shopping Channel on television is supplanted by EBay and Craigslist. People tune out the drone of warnings of ecological catastrophe, but focus intently on businesses handing out free products and services to bring in yet more paying customers.
We are a world of catastrophic consumption, with the lines totally blurred between wants and needs. Human survival is increasingly being put at risk by destructive consumption. Resource wars are killing many, many thousands, with planning being laid by governments for yet more such wars. Terrorism is a buzz word for those who resist colonization and imperialism through armed force, with the underlying impetus for these conflicts being competition for increasingly scarce resources with petroleum far and away at the top of the list of valued resources. Petroleum greases the pathway to consumption, and consumption of petroleum itself is the underlying factor for wars past, present and future.
During World War II, Americans were asked to consume less of many consumer goods in order to allow for resources to be devoted to the war effort. Now, Americans are asked to shop during wartime. The American economy drives armaments production of high technology implements of war that are capable of killing countless citizens of other countries whose national needs are in competition with those of American citizens. So we shop and kill and kill and shop and it is all one endless destructive cycle, as inter-linked as any ecological system’s components.
We are used to killing our competitors. Ranchers kill ground squirrels and prairie dogs that compete for grass. We kill coyotes and wolves that compete for our livestock. We kill termites that compete for our finished lumber. In a world of increasing competition for resources, with a still-growing human population and retaining the idiotic priority of yet more economic growth, the killing will only continue and increase.
Will we ever learn? I think we may be asking the wrong question.
Can we ever learn as a species that an appropriate level of consumption is the key to survival, but catastrophic consumption kills? And our society/culture is as addicted to catastrophic consumption as a junkie is to heroin. The junkie often harms only himself, but we are harming biodiversity, ecosystems, planetary cycles and processes, and our unborn children.