Guest post: Still no foresight, beyond the quarterly statement

Originally a comment by Your Name’s not Bruce? on Hurtling down the path to extinction.

In War of the Worlds, the Martians meet their demise through lack of foresight, because they have no resistance to Earth germs; they are killed “after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.” Now, with our devices and technology working all too well, and plenty of warning (but still, no foresight, beyond the quarterly statement), we may bring about our own end by killing off the insects. Who knows, this might have a bigger, faster impact on human thought (and numbers) than the comparatively slow motion disaster that is climate change.

Time to nationalize agriculture.

I’m not sure that would really help at this point. We would probably have to internationalize agriculture. For the time being, because of our numbers, I think we are trapped in industrialized, mechanized, chemical and energy intensive agriculture. Shifting over to methods that are less destructive would likely require more people working in the agricultural workforce. It would take time, and a lot more state intervention in the economy than many are going to welcome, but whatever we do, whatever happens, there is going to be massive societal and economic disruption as knock on effects of the ongoing ecological and climate disruption we have loaded the system with. The longer we wait to act, the less we will be able to control or mitigate that disruption, and the worse it is going to be. We are racing headlong into crisis and the earth is going to slough off a few billion humans (and countless other species) before it reaches some new equilibrium.

Too few people (and certainly too few people in power) are aware of the fundamental connections between the human sphere and the biological foundations from which it arises and upon which it depends. We’re still learning about those connections in our slow, halting way. Traditional societies that are/were more immediately tied to the cycles of the living world around them might have had some awareness of this, but perhaps in too much of a mythological or metaphorical sense (where propitiation of spirits might be seen as more important than not actually overhunting an animal or exhausting the land), rather than the nuts and bolts causality that the scientific method offers. Whatever traditional awareness of the intimate bond humans have to all other life, that awareness was lost, set aside or ignored as we adopted agriculture and adapted our ways to it.

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