Here's an evolutionary parable:
Salamanders live in a little kettle-pond. Clearly the sensible thing to do is to stay there and eat and mate and thrive in the relative safety of the pond. And so they do. But a few salamanders are clearly not sensible. They wander off from the pond. It turns out that it would have been much, much safer to stay in the pond and almost all of them die upon the arid, predator-infested deserts. But a few, with little but absurd luck to distinguish them, make it to other kettle ponds and their descendants settle there and eat and mate and thrive. And a few restless ones wander off almost always to die. But THEY are the reason there are salamanders - a hundred thousand and a million years after that first pond and all its inhabitants have reverted to dust.
|weeds consume a chair|
We are not salamanders and our civilization is not a pond, but there's a relevance to my little parable if I could only pin it down. John Michael Greer, writing at the Archdruid Report argues that people are locked into our civilization's central religious cosmology of Progress (with its dualistic alter ego, Apocalypse), and they don't give it up easily or at all. If we have run up against an Age of Limits - and I think we have - then this cosmology has become dysfunctional and delusional. And that is one reason why humans are not doing anything significant about the problems that threaten our civilization - climate change, our total reliance on over-exploited, non-renewable resources, our unsustainable and fragile food system, and the accelerating destruction of the generative foundations of our biological existence like soil, air, water and ecosystems.
The problem is not that we lack solutions for living upon the earth. The problem is that most of these solutions are incompatible with our cosmology of Progress. Let me reiterate that. We have solutions, but because these solutions are - for lack of a better word - heretical - they cannot be enacted (or for the most part, even discussed). The idea that we should be intentionally applying our considerable creative and technical energies toward building a future that is slower, poorer, and less shiny than today's is so unthinkable that people mostly refuse to think it.
|a volunteer sunflower|
But we aren't taking up these kinds of solutions, and that is what makes us akin to those salamanders who stay in the pond even though ponds don't last forever. It's the obvious and sensible thing to do, right up to the moment you are baked into the shattering clay.
|rusty wheelbarrow, made in USA|