Saturday, March 28, 2009

Self-Control

Last Friday was a beautiful day. We shoveled the snow off our back deck in an attempt to give the final heave-ho to winter. Sunday morning we woke up to about five inches of snow. I took that as mother nature's way of reminding me that we're not in control.

When humanity developed agriculture it took control of its destiny. No longer did it have to make do with what it could hunt or gather. With more food comes more people. We suddenly had an abundance of food so we flourished. Our population grew and grew.

Now we are the alpha species on this planet. We eat most of the food. This has worked well for us so far, but let's take a wider view. On Spaceship Earth, nature is our life support system. Everything else has to live off of what we leave behind. This includes the ecological services we rely on for things like clean air and water. Our life support systems are being destroyed piecemeal for the short term benefit of a few.

This incremental destruction and voracious consumption have set current reality way out of balance with what nature can provide. We're heading for an ecological crash far worse than the economic 'crisis', and for this there can be no bailout. We can't just borrow an established ecosystem. There aren't any to lend.

We can't blame any individual entity. Our collected actions are responsible. There's nobody to sue, but that doesn't matter. Unrestrained, we'll consume the planet's built-in life support system. If that happens, those who survive will become full-time planetary life-support technicians, with the whole world in their hands.

The sooner we exercise self-control, in the form of drastic action that restores the environment and the ecological services it provides, the better our chances of avoiding the worst case scenarios.

You matter. It's like voting. We either vote to endure, or we vote for the comfortable status quo and the devastation that comes with it. Nature counts the votes every day.

To endure, we don't need to control nature. We need to control ourselves.

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