Chris Martenson’s recent article about collapse and the plummeting of biodiversity made me think about what it feels like to be left behind. Few people living in affluent countries or communities understand what this means.
Americans closed their eyes to the plight of people in underdeveloped countries whose soil, water, and air were exploited by US corporations seeking profits at the expense of people. Instead we touted our booming economic growth as American exceptionalism. We deserved a better lifestyle because we earned it, right? But today as billionaires are capturing more and more of the world’s wealth and most of the rest are being left behind, we no longer think the situation is fair. We don’t enjoy it when we are the ones left behind. “The 12% increase in the wealth of the very richest contrasted with a fall of 11% in the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population.”
Human exploitation of the environment is competing for the resources other species of life need to survive. Climate change and the use of pesticides toxic to most species is causing a severe decline in species of insects, amphibians, birds, butterflies, bats, etc. It is also causing a decline in human health. Species are going extinct at rates unprecedented except by catastrophic natural events such as a meteorite impact. Our decision to protect or conserve nature has evolved from ideas in the 1960’s that we should protect “nature for nature itself” to the idea in the 1990’s that we should preserve “nature for people”. Economic policy dictated that the needs of people mattered first and foremost. It is only more recently that people are slowly realizing the importance of natural ecosystems, and that it is “humans and nature” we need to understand and protect.
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