We are seriously mentally ill, as individuals and as a society. If you don't believe it, just look at all the self-destructive things we do, often with a sense of achievement and invariably without thinking them through.
A fellow by the name of Jim Harris writes that modern economics is a form of pathology. He notes how furiously we're working to liquidate our natural capital, rebranding it "income" and congratulating ourselves for our wonderful success.
Jim's right when you give it just a little thought. If resources are non-renewable why are we so intent on depleting them to the point of exhaustion? What of future generations who might have some need for them? Is that just their tough luck? Should we leave them a note saying "Sorry but we sucked out your country's resources because we could. By the way, would you mind looking after those deficits we bequeathed to you?"
We play this very game with our bitumen pits. Our Tar Sands boosters proclaim bitumen to be (to quote Ignatieff) the "beating heart" of the Canadian economy for the 21st century. Without the Tar Sands we're what, nothing? Just a bigger Albania? We have all this education and all this wealth, especially from our renewable resources, but we're defining ourselves by a sludgy hydrocarbon?
Been doing a bit of reading lately about consumerism and consumption and if you want any proof that we're mad, there's plenty to be had in that discussion.
University of Colorado epidemiologist and behavioural scientist, Warren Hern, has formulated a theory that mankind's burgeoning population and ever increasing consumption footprint is creating conditions that operate very much as a malignancy on the planet. We have, as a species, become a cancer or at least replicate all four main characteristics of malignancy:
- Rapid, uncontrolled growth;
- Invasion and destruction of adjacent normal tissues;
- De-differentation (loss of distinctiveness of individual components); and,
- Metastasis to different sites.
"The human species is a rapacious, predatory, omniecophagic species engaged in a global pattern of converting all available plant, animal, organic and inorganic matter into either human biomass or into adaptive adjuncts of human biomass. This is an epiecopathological process that is both immediately and ultimately ecocidal."
It's madness, to be sure, but does that mean our leadership will even speak to it much less do anything about it? Hardly. It's not for want of intelligence. It's not for want of education. They have those qualities in abundance. No, their deficiencies are far worse and far more dangerous. They're wanting in courage and in decency and that goes for the lot of them.
They still rely on consumerism to fuel our economic engine and they harness that engine in the insane pursuit of perpetual growth. We're not only adding massively more people but we're adding massively more people with ever greater consumption patterns. That's our malignancy.
We live in a deranged world dedicated to the cause of maximizing consumption and growth for the purpose of constantly increasing production and growth. We grow so that we can grow ever larger, ever faster. That sounds awfully malignant, doesn't it?
Can you imagine putting a moratorium on the depletion of non-renewable resources? What if we were to place those non-renewables in trust for future generations? What if we said we've been depleting those resources so rapaciously for the past two generations that we've had our share and what remains is rightly the property of generations of Canadians yet to come? That would be denounced as heresy, madness, perhaps even treasonous. I can't think of a reason why it should, of a single moral argument that could be maintained against it. Yet I know - as do you - that the mere suggestion of these things would elicit nothing but indignation and outrage. That's what mad people do.