Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The eternal crisis

Humanity has become its own greatest enemy. We have made progress, and improved the lives of millions, but at a high price. Our progress has been economical, not spiritual. We have chosen to exploit the earth, rather than to learn to live with it. We have pursued profit up to a point where we are depleted of resources, and not only those profits but our very survival is threatened.

These words are my own, and they all ring true to me. It is not a controversial statement - it is a more or less well formulated sum up of what ecologism stand for in today's debate.

Empirical data seems to support such a vision - no other animal has ever treathened Homo Sapiens. In the first quarter of 2010, 314,7 mn mobile phones were sold, which indicates the enormous scope of economic development. In spite of this, no one would argue that art or litterature has reached a higher level of development. As for how we treat the earth, think about the river Titas in Bangladesh or deforestation in the Amazon (or are we bettering?). Where there ain't much rubber left, anymore. In stead we have to make rubber from petroleum products. I guess you haven't missed we are running out of oil? It is hard to see how we will live in a world without oil, even harder in one more than two degrees warmer, the scenario that we should get used to.

Glacier 930 (PSF)

The odd thing is that writing this feels relevant. A few years ago, when I was competition-blogging about climate change, I could easily have written something like this and being praised for it. But it is an old story, and should be so even to my grandmother. Earlier today I finished a neat litte book by the Swedish writer Elin Wägner - Fred med Jorden. Where she writes exactly the same thing. The book as written during the second world war. But the same idea, clad in better words, is easy to locate also in Gandhi's or Tolstoj's writings from the late 19th century.

Isn't is strange, how we can live a hundred year under an immidate threat to our existence? It is easy to think that the ecological question is maybe not so urgent after all, if we have managed so well until now. On the other hand a friend just yesterday told me how fast he had seen the glaciers in the Alps dissapearing, and there is a lot of hands-on information about the loss of ice in the arctic and antarctic regions as well. To presume that a world without ice will be a similar word seems to contradict physics.

Well, maybe there will come out something from the Large Hadron Collider that changes all we know about physics, and explains why ecological crises do not really affect us.

Or maybe this is a political question, as much as one about science. Maybe it is about the clash of two ideologies - one seeing man as master of the universe, and the other one seeing man as a species among others. A clash that has been raging since the beginnings of industrial society.

That is almost certainly a valid description of reality. Somewhere out there there is a reality - less ice and less life, but it is interpretated through our pre-determined minds. I guess that is why we can not really discuss climate change, or environment politics - such topics are most often perceived either as political correctness or as ill-guided radicalism.

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