Much of what humanity has accomplished in recent years can seem baffling and backwards at the same time. Computers today are more capable than the instruments which sent humans to the moon, fitting in your pocket just because. However, what has been slower to accelerate in improvement is social understanding and coherence of the implications of the generation of technology, furthermore, whether such an awareness is possible at large scale is unclear. There is not much to say that society will feel the weight of its decisions. This is all reasonable. People are much more logical at a base level than much of the political contention and ethical differences would suggest. Most of our motivations stem from our base feeling of the utility of things. Technology is a great example thereof, when people look at a new gizmo or gadget it is often clear that it has been made with a utilitarian purpose. The next iPhone will help you to communicate more efficiently than the previous version, the newer the cars the lower gas costs tend to be, the better the assembly lines are constructed the more products can be sent out to consumers for prices they can appreciate. Ecological problems and implications are often much harder to ameliorate. Often what is good for a person in a culture is not correlated to what is good for the environment, because it is what we can take from the environment rather than what we can give that is often considered. People don’t often colonize deserts, they colonize forests. Places with resources. These resources are exploited to the fullest with differing timelines depending on the acceleration of advancement therein. When groups decide to take areas, the natural world often combats change for a period, this is what is shown as ecological resilience, what there is clings on. This lasts a very large period of time, however, in the end, the acceleration of resource demands outstrips supply. In this scenario the logic is to paralyze development. The issue is that such problems can ultimately be seen from ground level, each person sees the issue with their own eyes. There is not a greater source of change above the parts of a group cooperating. Within western culture especially, the drive of competition outstrips the drive for conservation. It’s exhausting to watch and take part in at the same time.
Like other readings we’ve had in this course, this article highlights the shortsighted, anthropocentric worldview of Western culture. As “The Vanishing” by Malcolm Gladwell discusses, the Norse people of Greenland came, settled, and worked the land with the techniques they learned from the land where they originated. For a while, their methods appeared to work, but they were destined to fail in the climate of Greenland in the long run. The Norse’s “social glue” that held together their culture was inflexible and therefore was their downfall. Had they chosen to learn from the Inuit people, who knew how to work the land properly, they might have survived. However, they refused and soon starved.
This reminds me of the consequences of the tragic fires that occur here on the West Coast of Ameria and in Australia. For centuries Native and Aboriginal people worked the land in particular ways that prevented it from becoming too overgrown or too barren. They used controlled burning to clear away undergrowth that could potentially fuel wildfires and to preserve the fertility of the soil. Through the process of colonization, those wisdoms were disregarded by settlers, who sought only to immediately gain as much from the land as possible. Turning to use those methods on the land of modern states in America, for example, would admittedly be difficult. However, with wildfires growing worse and worse every year, it is time to explore every potential solution, including consulting the indigenous peoples.
It is important to note that this “shortsightedness” in environmentalism is not exclusively a trait of Western civilization, as mentioned in “The Vanishing” with the Eastern Islanders’ fall. In fact, it is a trait that can now be seen on a global scale. The deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest is another example. Large oil and agricultural companies are extracting an abundance of resources from the Amazon and surrounding areas. While providing resources that temporarily sustain individual economies, these cooperations contribute to rising global emissions and are actively destroying one of the world’s most massive land carbon sinks.
These degenerative acts that continue to happen worldwide are ever decreasing our chances of “biological survivability”. If we genuinely wish to endure, we must try to convince the rest of the world to stop the shortsighted behavior and actively fight against global suicide.