The Fruits of Civilization (chapter) Synopsis
“Civilization has never recognized limits to its needs.” ~ American physicist John Perlin
▫ Humans have had such a spectacular impact on the environment by dint of their numbers. But the impetus for destruction of the natural world arises from a worldview that Nature is there for the taking: that Earth exists as man’s dominion.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over all the Earth, and over every thing that creepeth upon the Earth.” ~ Genesis 1:26, The Bible
▫ From hunting and agriculture to the application of chemicals and radioactive matter, mankind has never appreciated associated externalities. The desire for profit and power easily overrode any concerns that prudence may have presented.
“There is a fundamental flaw in classical economics and all the modern systems derived from it. The resources of the Earth are treated as capital: a set of assets to be turned into a source of profit.” ~ Clive Ponting
▫ The respectful comprehension of Nature as self-owned – of natural assets having no natural owners – simply never occurred to covetous men. Sagacity would have had humanity taking as little as possible that cannot be renewed, of creating a tradition of frugality such that generations everlasting may also live their lives in natural splendor and abundance. No such intelligence was ever in evidence.
“Civilised man was nearly always able to become master of his environment temporarily. His chief troubles came from his delusions that his temporary mastership was permanent. He thought of himself as “master of the world,” while failing to understand fully the laws of Nature.” ~ American ecologists Tom Dale & Vernon Gill Carter
▫ Technology has accelerated the consequences of disrespecting Nature. Profiteers generated a mass extinction event unawares, and continue to do so, only now in denial.
“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.” ~ American Republican politician Dan Quayle
▫ Earth is into a human-induced hothouse climatic cycle that will last millions of years. Polar ice caps are melting. The sea will flood all the world’s coastal cities. Earth may eventually recover only because of its natural inclination to be cooler, as shown by the planet’s natural history.
▫ Human existence is now in the era when civilizations’ fruits are coming to a terminal fruition. Above all, the dire straits ahead can be attributed to a triumph of materialism in abeyance of meaningful morality.
“We’re toxifying the entire planet.” ~ Paul Ehrlich
It is already too late to avert environmental disaster on a global scale, and a mass extinction event not seen since the dinosaurs departed. The final course is nothing more than just desserts for a species that could have done much better, if mankind had exercised intelligence instead of arrogance.
“Through our past carelessness we incurred a debt to Nature, and now that debt is being called.” ~ Richard Nixon in 1970
“The health of ecosystems is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of life worldwide.” ~ English chemist Robert Watson in 2019
“The essential ingredient of human life is a healthy planet. We are destroying the natural world, and with it ourselves. The collapse of civilization is on the horizon.” ~ English naturalist David Attenborough in 2019
“It would be the ultimate tragedy if the history of the human race proved to be nothing more noble than the story of an ape playing with a box of matches on a petrol dump.” ~ English politician David Ormsby-Gore in 1960