HELL HAS NO FURY
The economic, political and social foundation of our country is being challenged in debates now raging across our country. The discourse is rooted within the economic architect that defines our society. The course of change will ultimately be dictated, not by ideology, but by the laws of science, planetary boundaries and the evolution of an economic system defined more by resilience and sustainability and less by material wealth.
The simultaneous increase in world population beyond 7 billion and the rise of middle class standards of living world-wide by tens of millions of people in China and India and other third world nations have pushed demand for ecological services and resources provided by our planet Earth, each year, to nearly 1.6 Earths. This means that to sustain our current standard of existence on this planet, human beings must have access to the regenerative ability of nearly 1.6 planets. Unfortunately we do not have 1.6 Earths to access regenerative resources from so we are destroying the future capacity of our one planet to make ends meet. This is equivalent to accessing personal saving account money to pay current bills because income is, to say the least, lacking! The clock is running on this deal.
The anonymous quote,” Hell has no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle” is a great characterization of the rich and corporate interests in our country and their rational for an influx of over 40 percent of all campaign dollars into the current US political process; even though this group of people represent only one-hundredth of one percent of the US population. It is a fact that most of the economic gains achieved over the past few decades have gone to the top 1 percent of the wealthiest people in our country and only residual financial resources going into reducing poverty and supporting important middle class social programs like education, health care and infrastructure projects.
Humans are now treading upon crossing the thresholds of planetary boundaries that help to ensure our existence. Climate change, stratospheric ozone, land use change, freshwater use, biological diversity, ocean acidification, nitrogen and phosphorous inputs to the biosphere and oceans, aerosol loading and chemical pollution all contribute to and dictate the limits of human life on our planet. Our current economic model, promoting continued economic growth and accompanying accumulation of material wealth for a more prosperous world has played out its effectiveness on a planet that can no longer sustain this mode of existence. Vested interests in the status quo contribute to current efforts to remain on this unsustainable course until an eventual and devastating collapse.
The common economic denominator of continued growth does not square up with the reality of life on a finite planet. To truly address the immovable physical reality of a finite planet we need to subscribe to the idea of creating a steady-state economy, one that is marked with stability, sustainability and not beholden to continual growth and expansion.
The reality we need to create is a quality of life that emanates from a living environment that produces increasing prosperity but not at the detriment of our planet. Shared concern and shared resources become the norm as citizens devote more time to community and to taking more responsibility for the well-being of fellow citizens. If these motivations can become mainstream then the trajectory of how we live can turn toward creating sustainable communities that seek to fulfill the needs of all its citizens.