Maria: Reflections on Tainter’s seminar

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November 12, 2014 at 22:33 #15420

Reflections on Tainter’s seminar with the question whether man, Homo sapiens, is evil.

No, I don’t think the human being is either particularly evil or particularly good. Evolution made or brain increase in size and become an extremely advanced organ, which made us able to communicate theoretical ideas and transfer these into practice with our dexterous hands and fingers. But, with such long time since we started to reflect of what and how and when to act to make our lives easier and better (to our mind), we are still not capable of foreseeing most of the risks our life style and utilization of natural resources etc. can cause. Not even when it actually is a question of our species’ survival, and worse, other members of the fauna and flora we are dependent on. In The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis, the article by Lynn White we had a year ago, he argues that it is, more or less, “The Western Traditions of Technology and Science” to blame for the condition of the Earth today. But are scientists more evil than other individuals? No, I don’t consider so. We are, as a species, very innovative, but cannot see the prospective efficacy or limits of our inventions (Other species are also innovative, but do not make such a huge impact technically).

It seems as once we realized that money was a medium for buying and selling goods, many soon also recognized that money could be used to pay for services (legal as well as illegal), frauds, political votes, etc etc. Since then, we cannot find a way out of the trap of economic exploitation and need for economic growth, preferably exponential growth for corporation owners, we have created to be satisfied. But are we evil, or just stupid or ignorant? A sad fact is that most all other civilizations in modern time seem to take over this Western style consumerism and love it. An even more sad fact is that the young generation, of whom many in the Western world must know what is waiting, still finds it so satisfying to consume without any thoughts of concern for themselves or for their children. We live in a society in which we produce and consume ourselves to death, and those who cannot afford to do so, wish that they could.

There is a worldwide network of expert, both scientific and civic advisers for politicians and other rulers to give sensible information for decisions. Unfortunately, most of them are seen as unpopular among leaders and citizens, because these make people understand how bad reality is. But who wants to be unpopular and loose power for to save us in the future, when you can rule one more period (or even a life time as a president in Africa)? May be these individuals are evil, but not the citizens who have voted (or not been able to vote) for them. Most of us are too busy with living to earn money to act against corrupt economic systems or for long-term changes. I would say most of us are ignorant, but not evil. If we right now decided that we want to get a deeper public awareness of what and how climate change, biodiversity loss, rational agriculture to feed the overpopulated earth, destructions of forests and drinking water, rivers and oceans will influence all of our society and the next generation (which actually is already twenty years from now) it could make a difference for the better. But that will not happen. One reason is that we are much too many, another is the evolution of our brain.

Worthy, from another seminar, said it is easy to make people act when they directly can see a positive result or get a reward. I just read about “nudging for sustainability”. That will not help the world from the destroying impact of the human society. But while we try it, the feeling that we could do something every day, even on a full busy day, makes us hopefully more kind and sensible as individuals. At least I can end my reflections with something positive!

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