“Exponential growth, everywhere: the terminal cancer of this civilization.”
Sept 19, 2016
Thoughts from ~burning woman~
In my introduction on ~burning woman~ blog I wrote: “I think that every problem is an invitation to all of us to work out the solution, and I believe that no problem exists that does not contain a solution within itself. All we are asked to do is unravel it. Life is like a Rubik’s Cube. There is a solution, it’s just a willingness to work at it until it emerges.”
Taking it from “now” here’s a bit of reality check: (from this blog)
Source: Researchers Say Society Is Doomed. Can We Save Ourselves in Time?undergroundreporter.org – Christina Sarich – September 7, 2016
Clues unearthed by archaeologists suggest that our society is doomed for collapse. Researchers from University College London and the University of Maryland recently studied 2,378 archaeological sites from Neolithic Europe to discover some tell-tale signs indicating when an ecosystem was shifting into instability. After looking at the data, it seems that every single civilization gave clues to its own impending demise — including our own.
Signs that a society is about to collapse, or undergo a massive reorganization, included fragility in systems that had undergone ‘slowing down’ or ‘flickering’ from impacts such as disease, warfare, resource degradation, or crop failure.
The researchers describe ‘flickering’ as a change in a society’s response to these perturbations resulting in the society becoming caught in a socio-ecological trap that reinforces the same bad behaviour that caused the issues to begin with, and prevents adaptation with new action.
Every time a society ‘flickers’ it loses recovery time, and you could consider it as moving closer to destruction. The team found that these flickering signs signified an eventual demise of the society, all showing up well before the actual collapse.
Undeniably our current world is severely handicapped by serious and intensifying problems. I don’t think I need to name them, we all know what we’re facing, as a global society, and as individuals. It is my nature to seek solutions to problems and the more obvious those are, the more I find myself focusing, perhaps even fixating, upon them. “Find a solution… Think!” And it’s what my mind does.
It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. What I’ve been learning lately is that “invention” need not be a strictly forward motion: in looking for solutions it can move backward. And this is where I’m at: how far back must man, as a species, go to solve his current life-threatening problems? To explain that backward move, it is necessary to delve into the main cause of man’s current crisis.
The common thought is that solutions are found in new, forward-looking discoveries. For every action (which comes from a previous reaction) there is a new reaction. Thus the clumsy reciprocal “chug… chug… chug…” movement of civilization moves itself forward and each time, like the old coal fired steam trains, the machine picks up speed. A new “disease” (caused by a previous reciprocal movement) gets a new drug treatment which causes more problems to be met with more drugs. That has been the way, and it’s the accepted way. Except that it doesn’t work, and never did, because there never was any track built past the tunnel. But that’s all beside the point as long as we chose, as a collective, to exist in total denial of history and observation and believe that any “new and improved whatever” would solve any current crisis, or make any current burden easier to bear. Thus we blindly entered the age of science as god; the age of technocracy: of technology, of robotics, of machines, of medical interventions and heaping drug prescriptions, of faster communication and travel, of ever-expanding cities to house an exponentially growing population. We entered the age of top-down, system driven, totalitarian collectivization and we were taught in public school, in college, by the media and the corporate world that its called progress. Therefore we progressed into a progressively worsening societal condition, right up to the end of the track which in today’s parlance we call “the unsustainable society.”
In 1972, yes, that far back, the Club of Rome and others commissioned computer simulations dealing with unrestrained growth versus availability of space and resources.
From Wikipedia, (excerpt): “The Limits to Growth” is a 1972 book about the computer simulation of exponential economic and population growth with finite resource supplies. The original version presented a model based on five variables: world population, industrialisation, pollution, food production and resources depletion. These variables are considered to grow exponentially, while the ability of technology to increase resources availability is only linear.
And a footnote to the article: With few exceptions, economics as a discipline has been dominated by a perception of living in an unlimited world, where resource and pollution problems in one area were solved by moving resources or people to other parts. The very hint of any global limitation as suggested in the report The Limits to Growth was met with disbelief and rejection by businesses and most economists. However, this conclusion was mostly based on false premises. – Meyer & Nørgård (2010).
It’s important to understand what “exponential growth” versus “linear growth” mean. You’ve all seen graphs showing exponential growth: that smooth line at the bottom that begins to rise ever so slowly, then higher and higher as each segment doubles itself until the line shoots right off the top of the chart. Linear on the other hand shows a steady growth rate, predictable, logical, sustainable. Man’s civilization today is of the exponential kind, and we’re very close to the top of the chart. So close that the system sustaining the growth is failing – AT EVERY POINT and not just on some. We’ve not only reached the limits to growth, we have surpassed them and now we can’t stop our train from shooting off the end of the tunnel of progress we created from our lusts and greed and passion for cheap and easy and entertaining.
Now for a very, very brief history lesson beginning with a question: which of mankind’s many civilizations not only succeeded, but continued on and remains “operative” and growing to this day? And the answer is… none. Not a single one. Each civilization that rose from nothing, or from the wrack and ruin of another has in its turn collapsed utterly.
A reminder from none other than the famous poet, Percy Shelley:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
What better comparison could one make of this current prideful and shallow civilization than to the boastful one of the great king “Ozymandias?” Oh yes, it is said that science with the faithful and uncanny help of technology can, and will, solve all of man’s current problems. Stupid to worry, to be concerned, about such things as climate change which “Right” thinking people know to be a hoax; about over population (why, the earth can sustain twice our current numbers!); availability of food and sustainability of edible crops (what about GMO’s and fish farms, etc.?) and simple living space (ah, hmm, well, we can live closer together, build higher highrises and we can go live on the moon, or on Mars with a bit of technological fixing!) and wars (a one-world government will fix that, along with a one-world economy!)
Wonderfully childish reasoning that is desperately held onto by billions of desperate individuals: desperate for things to continue as they are; desperate to ignore, hide, mock, the reality that is threatening to destroy not only most of mankind, but much of his living environment and those “others” nature symbiotically “intended” for space to be shared with. Simply put, quality has given way to quantity – it’s always what happens when values are determined by numbers – and numbers only work when fed more quantities of numbers. Exponential growth, everywhere: the terminal cancer of this civilization.
Somewhere way back in prehistoric times man “happened” on this world. I really don’t know how that came about and I’m not a strong proponent of Darwinist evolutionary theories, while holding the creation concept equally at arms length, but man “was” here. From what I gather this “man” creature was living a natural life on a natural world. And as we observe of other animals, all was, relatively speaking, well with that.
Then something amazing and terrible happened: man came face to face with a choice. There was a fork on the road of life, the left continuing the natural pattern of life, and the right promising a much brighter, exciting, morally and technically uplifting future. Man was offered the fruit of civilization. Some saw it as a marvelous opportunity for advancement and took that path. Most did not, but it would be “civilized” man that would rise to conquer and subdue the earth and all that dwell therein. Man became “Ozymandias” the king of kings, ruler of all creation. Then one civilization after another rose suddenly, then fell slowly until hardly anything remained, and then another took its place, or surfaced somewhere else on the planet and “great” works were accomplished; marvels were created and built, then that too collapsed utterly, leaving only remnants in stone or bits and pieces of clay to mark the passage of civilized man. And on and on it went, until history began to be recorded on clay tablets and parchments, then in books and now in digital information. This is but another of those suddenly risen only to fail, civilization. And no, this civilization isn’t too big to fail – quite the contrary: it is too big to sustain itself and must fail.
This is about a solution to our current dilemma. Believing as I do that nothing can fix this toppling purposeless global civilization build on nothing but exploitation, oppression and bloodshed, my solution is eloquent by its simplicity: man must (not should) return to that prehistoric fork in the road and turn back to the left hand path, putting a clear sign on the right hand one that says: “This is the path to hell. It is forbidden for man to enter therein for this path can only be sustained by oppression and bloodshed, that is, by death.”
Yes: man must give up his pride filled attempts at creating new civilizations and return to his proper, natural, non-exploitative roots. The collapse of this civilization, since it is global in scope, is likely man’s last chance at redeeming himself; at rediscovering humility in compassion, in sharing, in becoming truly a human being to live in peace and harmony with all others on this little world. No amount of “civilizing” can do that for man, only a return to nature.