December 10, 2011 by sgoobie
It may have seemed an impossible undertaking: One humble species vs. an entire planetary body. The ambitious aim: complete ecological collapse.
Some called it just a pipe dream. After all, the starting point was an entirely thriving, diverse, and balanced biosphere which sustained life and cultures for millions of years. How could this single species possibly have stood a chance in their glorious pursuit?
Despite a few naysayers who preached far-flung ideas about “connection” with the natural world and a duty to protect “creation”, these daunting odds didn’t perturb the world’s most supreme societies. Driven to succeed, they had a plan. As with all good business models, it was smartly focused on short-term gain and wisely dismissive of impact on future generations.
They called this plan the Modern Ecological Thoughtprint. Ten steps, their leaders resolutely espoused — just ten simple steps was all it would take to accomplish their grand aspiration. At the foundation, these steps were based on the brilliant realization that in order to continually do something which conflicts with one’s own ethics — our pesky sense of right and wrong, rooted as they are in the antiquated religions and cultures of the world — we need to rationalize and legitimize any particular action through strategic ways of thinking. These ways of thinking, although in disagreement with our intuition and inherited understandings of sustainable, honorable behaviour, provide convenient excuses when we encounter guilt or doubt in our destructive actions. They serve as our psychological “get-out-of-jail-FREE” cards, liberating us to do what is in our immediate self-interest.
For the benefit of other societies with dreams of wondrous ecological annihilation, here then are the ten steps to successfully “improving” a nauseatingly rich and abundant planet:
- Through establishing dense urban areas far removed from farms and “parks” (i.e. places for weekend recreation), and through exporting production of goods and disposal of waste to locations far beyond of sight and smell, instill the firm belief that Humans are completely separate from the rest of Nature.
- Declare Nature as existing for no other reason but, conveniently, to be used by Humans, with no inherent meaning or purpose.
- Re-establish the snappy Greek idea that the Universe is merely the result of random mechanical movements of tiny particles, with no need for ridiculous spirits, mind or consciousness behind “it”. Help so-called “spiritual people” (hippies!) to begin to see Nature as a machine, with mechanically functioning components, and as a factory which produces endless “resources” for us to use for all our needs and gluttonous wants.
- Adopt the presumptive view that, if indeed there is a diety, that He (of course a “He”) granted Humans full dominion over all the “beasts” — and assume “dominion” means the right to exploit with no other responsibilities to protect and preserve. Assume, if we get in trouble after trashing the Planet, He’ll come and save us anyway.
- Develop the marvels of Western Science, based on the clever idea that we must interrogate Nature through dissection and experimentation in order to yield up its hidden secrets, and finally to gain control and mastery over it.
- Convince everyone that Humans are the most important, advanced, superior and deserving “species” on the Planet, far beyond the primitive, dirty automatons, leafy shrubs and pointless bodies of water.
- Extend Darwin’s idea of competition and domination to our own place in the world, so that it seems only fitting that the “strongest” (meaning Humans — especially white males) do as they please at the expense of the weak and vulnerable.
- Hammer home the idea that most local knowledge and indigenous cultures of previous generations and societies is primitive, savage, and even backward. Newer is always better; all change is improvement. The more we can get rid of so-called ancient wisdom, the better off we’ll be.
- One word: Capitalism. In other words, help people realize that the best kind of society is one based on private ownership, and one in which the money value (although not real) assigned to the elements of the natural world is more important than any other kind of intrinsic worth. Convince folks that the less economic regulation there is the better, that economies need to grow indefinitely and as fast as possible, and only frequent, flippant consumption and accumulation of “stuff” brings true happiness to our lives.
- Expand, expand and expand. Take this one narrow set of beliefs about industrial and capitalist society which took hold in Western Europe a few hundred years ago and, under the assumption that it is the most superior and universal way of thinking ever created, force it on all the world’s peoples. Although this sometimes requires invading and exterminating local populations, most of the time if the natives accept their own inferiority (see #8), they’ll accept it sooner or later. Do all of this under the guise of “development”.
Collapse is within our reach
It is a testament to the brilliant, short-term thinking of countless ambitious men with insatiable appetites for profit over the past several centures that we now are achieving our ultimate target: a Planet in ruins. A quarter of all mammal species is facing extinction, the atmosphere is choking with our hard-earned carbon emissions, old-growth forests are finally on the way out, and bio-accumulation of toxins and heavy metals in humans and other creatures alike has never been more impressive.
But we can’t give up or slow down. There is still much more to do. There are those stubborn people not yet “converted”, who persist in outdated altruistic beliefs in the tedious concept of sustainability. We must prevent our children from steering away from the glorious path we have charted, reminding them that immediate jobs and unbounded economic growth far outweigh the demand for future health and prosperity. We must follow through on steps one through ten until every last resource of the globe has been “liquidated”, every variety of fish in the seas has been harvested, every watershed has had its natural rhythm scrambled, and the entire climate of the planet is catastrophically shifted, rendering ocean currents null and coastlines re-appropriated.
Only then, in a world devoid of life, diversity, and meaning, can we at last declare:
What happens after? Come on. Don’t ruin the best party Planet Earth has seen in five billion years. All you need to do is focus on the goal — and dream.