Consumers are all we have been designated to be. Our politics, our Media, our industry seem to have all conspired to make us pan-consumers. A people whose sole measure of self-worth is in some way or other based on their actual or potential level of consumption.
We are conditioned to consume everything. In some ways, even each other.
But in the meantime Earth is being gouged with open wounds, and scoured mercilessly in our unrelenting search for resources.
Over the past two hundred years humanity has managed to consume enormous volumes of resources. We have systematically transformed our human existence to a pan-consumerism which in theory allows for each and every free person in a democracy to consume as much as they can, and/or facilitate the consumption by others to the highest possible degree as providers of product or service. That is we are either programmed to be relentless consumers, or relentless providers of consumption for others.
We have now a Global economy, quite able to consume just about anything in its path, but hardly able to conserve anything at all. The very idea of conservation has seemingly disappeared from the mainstream media. Conservation seems to be treated today like a dirty word used to be treated yesterday. This is because open investments have an open interest in continued expansion Yet, there is absolutely no reasonable alternative to conservation. But we have now a world whose sole purpose is to expand, even if that expansion is catastrophic, or even impossible to achieve
When in fact our economy tells us in no uncertain terms that we must begin to conserve or face dire economic consequences simply because the inefficiency built up within our all-consuming economy can no longer be sustained, we simply ask our Federal Reserve Chairman to increase the money supply and go on. That is we borrow against the future, and indeed borrow from our own children so that we can not only maintain our present level of consumption, but increase it!
For most of human time excess was frowned upon for it was innately understood that unreasonable expenditure would eventually lead to destruction. Even the world’s major religions-fundamentally aligned to the notion of an infinite boundless God or Universe(as in the case of the Buddhists) have repeatedly frowned on the glutton, and have all set down the example of conservation and care when expending resources in the human realm. Yet here we are in the twenty first century being conditioned both psychologically and spiritually to become all consuming entities whose sole measure of value or worth is how much we consume, or how much we can consume in the future!
We can see that as a civilization we have borrowed immensely and recklessly from nature. Not only do we have enormous monetary debt which demonstrates quite clearly our overall failure as an economic entity but we also have the enormous damage to the natural world that proves clearly that we have not been prudent with the expenditure of our natural resources thus far. We have thus far burned four billion years of stored hydro carbons in one hundred fifty years of industrial evolution! This expenditure cannot be insignificant. This hugely disproportionate return of hydro-carbons cannot simply be dismissed. There will almost certainly be consequences as the Earth is made to adjust to this sudden release of billions of years of stored heat, carbon dioxide, and methane.
What Can We Do?
In order to turn the corner and at last say that we have stabilized our existence with Nature, we must as a civilization begin to come to an understanding on both the individual and state level, that consumption must be limited! Consumption must be regulated and that of course would also imply a regulation of expenditure as well. Thus we must at last begin to admit to ourselves both publically and privately that in order to exist on the Earth as a Global community, we must begin to program our economies towards the most efficient path of growth, consumption and expenditure. No doubt this will include qualitative changes as well. In other words it is not simply a matter of measuring how much we consume, but what and how, and why we consume what we consume and why we make certain expenditures and not others. The quality of our total existence must change. A new idealism may well be needed.
Many will say that’s too much to ask, but the reality is that there is no other choice. If we continue on our present course, we will firstly go bankrupt for our currencies will collapse followed immediately by our economies, and secondly we may well do permanent damage to the Earth’s cyclical rhythms which concern the Carbon Cycle for example. Should anything like that happen, not only is our survival very doubtful, but quite possibly the survival of life on Earth as a whole may be endangered. Since it is generally accepted that we are now in the midst of a major mass extinction, it would be good for honest, well meaning, religious people who have a strong conscience and care for those around them to admit that there is very great danger here even if we don’t quite know what the precise nature of that danger may be, and the time has come to begin asking how we may live conservatively with nature so as to preserve the viability of our own children’s society.
Conservation has long been the cornerstone of many great civilizations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. While care for efficiency was taken most ancient civilizations grew and blossomed, but when this care was lost, failure was sure to occur, so we have precedents and all we need do as individuals is to look at prior civilizations and see how they managed growth and decay to see some measure of our own solution.
There will be those who will deny all this, but they are simply denying what is quite obvious to anyone looking honestly. We have used far too much of our world’s resources without commensurate care needed to prevent an unexpected consequence. Too many political parties will fight to preserve their own strength often denying what is true for the purpose of temporarily gaining the upper hand politically. We can no longer afford these maneuvers merely for political gain and it is time for those who really do understand what is happening here to take a separate stand. It is time to invade all political parties for the purpose of making it clear to all members of our civilization that our status with Earth is dire trouble.
We must come to a general understanding that both individual consumption and global consumption is to be decreased generally if we are to survive as a whole. However this can be done with very little outward change. By increasing efficiency, both individually and globally we can pretty much avoid most nasty consequences.
This is not an attack on Capitalism. Be careful. Capitalism is much more than just mindless consumption and inordinate expenditure of resources. Capitalism in its essence is simply a system of private ownership which is not at all undermined by the ideas of conservation. Capitalism allows for the free action and assumption of personal responsibility of risk concerning economic ventures. This has nothing by itself to do with conservation and care for our resources. Yes there will be some changes and some adjustment for the markets will have to take place. But for the most part I think markets have today become useless and falsely overinflated and for the most part out of the reach of the mainstream citizenry even if so many technical advancements have made it child’s play to actually invest in the capital markets. In reality no one trusts the markets because they have become the plaything of the few and so have become essentially useless to our society. By beginning a long turn towards conservation, markets may actually become useful again. They may actually serve the original purpose that they were designed for in that their primary function was to determine value and the feasibility of distribution these being the ultimate requirements of any attempts towards efficiency and conservation. Thus markets may actually begin to function as they were intended once we begin this change towards real conservation as they will once again be relied on to truthfully represent the availability of resources, while today they do nothing of the sort, actually going up or down in price not based on their inherent value but only on the nature of the Federal Reserve’s monetary actions.
However, if those who would call themselves capitalists will make the claim that no bounds to the accumulation of personal wealth should ever exist, even if these over extensions wind up destroying our harmonic existence with the Earth itself, then it is time for some regulation and a sharpened redefinition of economic bounds and overall economic objectives will have to be reviewed.
In essence, we must live within our resources both as far as the Earth is concerned, and as far as our own economies are concerned. Creating unnecessary jobs is not a sustainable solution to our unemployment problems for example. We need to find real, efficient ways to exist, and expand economically if we are to survive as a species. Spending too much on any kind of consumption is going to throw the system out of balance, anyone can see this. Our economic actions must be in complete harmony with our Earthly resources. Any mistakes, and we’re gonners! This is not an idle threat, but an ever growing one as we can see by the increase of both climatic heat and oceanic heat which could very well be due to our use of Four billion years of fuel in less than two hundred years.
We would be lucky to escape our fate as is, but whatever we do, we must adjust our understanding of basic human existence. The time for open ended consumerism, is dead! It is time for a new revelation that each and every one of us must experience personally. We must learn to live efficiently. We must learn to Conserve.