People who are aware of world events live in a state of denial. This includes myself, at most times. The denial concerns the geologic force of human activity on the biosphere. Environmental advocates acknowledge that we are toying with disaster. So they push for solutions like carbon taxes, renewable energy, electric cars, environmental regulations and so forth. Ire is rightly directed at the fossil fuel industry for hiding evidence and influencing policy to maximize their dominion over the world economy. I often consider, though, that we in affluent humanity demand access to all that industry has to offer, or at least whatever we want and can afford—everything from rubber erasers to megayachts. So all over the world there are stores, warehouses, box cars and freighters full of merchandise to meet the demand. Cities are crawling with motor vehicles. As it all gets used up and discarded, factories and assembly lines continue to produce replacements. Mines, oil wells, clear cuts and laboratories continue to provide the raw materials. Fossil fuels continue to burn. The biosphere continues to suffer, and the evidence is undeniable. There is a disconnect between our efforts to spur the economy with GDP as the key metric, and the impact that results. To avert the worst outcomes, humanity needs to find a way to simplify. The physical world doesn’t care about our economies. It can provide us with what we need for subsistence, for modern existence, and even for some recreation and luxury. Demanding, however, that the biosphere continues to allow for unfettered consumerism, and continued adherence to the personal automobile transportation model, we will overtax it. We continue to increase the peril at which we place the future of life on earth. We need to make less stuff, a lot less stuff. Any ideas, anyone?
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