This is a good question to ask now because you hear people talking about “economic growth” as if it’s a magic formula for every country:
“Economic growth is the key
- to developing a country
- to making people happy in that country
- to raising their standard of living.”
Economic growth has been offered as a solution, yet
behind these words “economic growth” we don’t have creation: We have destruction.
How do we know this? Because this “growth” is premised on our securing the energy required to achieve this growth.
How do we currently secure this energy? For the past century and apparently increasingly so in the 21st century (due to fracking technologies) we have secured our energy using fossil fuels (i.e., by burning something).
If you want to achieve economic growth, the quickest way is to build a lot of places where you burn coal (or gas or oil) to turn some things, which will produce some electricity, which will then allow you to join the group of “developed countries”.
If you live in a developed country, you probably enjoy a supply of electricity
- that is constant
- that is affordable
- that is predictable, and
- that is secured for the next couple of decades.
This “economic growth” which we have been raised, educated and conditioned to believe in as the absolute good may pose some problems if you do not face the question: To create or to destroy?
There are of course times when we need to destroy in order to create; when you build a new house, you might have to destroy the old one. But how do you destroy the old one?
- Do you plant a 100 kg bomb and blow a crater in the ground, blow everything apart, including whatever is next to you? or
- Do you take it apart, piece by piece, recycling some of the beams, recycling some of the materials which you can salvage? or
- Do you pile it all up in a truck and dump it some place?
“How do we create and how do we destroy?” is a very pertinent question to ask of modern man because it doesn’t hide as much of the current conditions as talking about “How do we achieve economic growth?”
There have been people who have said that humankind appears to be a cancer on this planet:
Eating everything, every resource, and reproducing in numbers that are ultimately unsustainable and ending up by killing the host.
This is different in the animal world where a parasite would not kill the host before it is mature enough to live on its own or has found a new host; moreover, a parasite is just blindly obeying the rules which have been codified in its genetic makeup.
How about the human world?
Are we pre-programmed?
Are our genes programmed to destroy the planet that we’ve been living on and now we’re living off?
Are we like the cancer:
A mutation that has gone wrong, that has caused us a whole species to choose the wrong path?
Probably not, because it is not the entire humankind moving in the same direction.
The numbers may seem to indicate that all humankind is moving in the same direction, but if you look at the diversity of human societies, you’ll quickly realise that this is not necessarily true for all people in the world.
The sad part is that the cancer cells (as it were) are much powerful than the healthy cells which they end up killing, by shutting down the whole body they prey on.
Are we a cancer? This is not a very good analogy, because (unlike the cancer cells) we have a choice:
We are conscious and we enjoy the privilege of knowing that we can create and we can destroy.
If the level of destruction required to achieve “economic growth” cancels out the possibility of creating anything else in 200, 300 or 400 years:
Do we care?
You and I will be dead at that time of reckoning:
you, who listen to this now (or 5 years from now), and I will most likely be dead in 200-300 years.
Do we make our choices with the interests of those who will follow us in mind?
- Do we keep their interests in mind? or
- Do we focus narrowly on our own lot?
Well, it depends.
Would you like to have children? Do you have children? If the answer is yes, then perhaps you entertain the notion that the generations 200-300 years from now may benefit from your actions now:
- Changing course and choosing less destruction, more creation
- Choosing to eliminate as much as possible of the self-destructive patterns of behaviour and choosing to focus entirely on creation.
The problem here is in the numbers:
We have reached, in most developed countries (and in a lot of developing countries also) a point where many people don’t want to have children any more.
It matters not whether this is a decision that has been imposed by the external circumstances (overcrowding, government policy etc.) or by personal choice, because ultimately what matters is that
these individuals need to act in an altruistic manner without the prospect of having their offspring benefit from their wiser choices now (if we call “wise” choosing creation over destruction).
Can we act altruistically if we’re not going to have children? The good news is that we are capable. We often act altruistically when we help each other even if we do not benefit directly.
The better (albeit more scary news) is that the big crisis may not be so far off into the future: If a certain number of people chooses to go on in this manner, the degree of destruction may reach such proportions that it may actually shorten the life spans of those alive now (regardless of their choice to procreate).
There is a richness and diversity on this planet which has been here for a long time and that’s slowly eroding away.
I have said that it is ethical, it is only right to keep and protect that which has given us birth, even if we don’t have children whose future we’d like to secure.
There are fewer and fewer places of refuge (=shelters) from the lash-back, from the blowback that Nature is visiting upon us right now and it is a pretty safe bet that it will continue to occur on a much more frequent basis if we do not choose well now, if we do not choose creation over destruction.
So be a creator. Stop this self-destructive behaviour. Now.