Tag «Western civilization»

On being a radical

You probably recognize this symbol, though you might have forgotten its name: √ When I write the symbol on the whiteboard in a class, and ask what it is, the response is invariable: “The square root.” I respond, “Yes, its function is to take the root, including the square root or any other root. But …

Toward an Economy of Earth

We need to develop a new economy because the current version is not working. The industrial economy is destroying every aspect of the living planet. And, as it turns out, we need a living planet for our own survival. In this essay, I briefly describe the horrors of the current interconnected, globalized, planet-destroying house of …

Like an Elevator When the Cable Breaks

According to Mark Twain, “civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.” It seems western civilization is just about done with the mindless multiplication of anything, much less unnecessary nonsense. It’s too late for a fast collapse of the industrial economy. According to every significant index, the U.S. hit its economic peak in 2000. We’ve …

The ends of the Earth

How far will we go to secure energy? Clearly, to the ends of the Earth. And perhaps even to the end of the (living) world. Judging from their actions, most people I know are more to committed maintaining their imperial lifestyles than in maintaining the lives of their children. Take a look around and tell …

Abandoning a dream

I was among the final baby boomers born in the United States. Along with my entire generation, I owe the world an apology. My generation abandoned a worthy dream, and it will cost all of us, but nobody more than civilized members of industrial society.

Linking the Past with the Present: Resources, Land Use, and the Collapse of Civilizations

We have ripped minerals from the Earth, often bringing down mountains in the process; we have harvested nearly all the old-growth timber on the continent, replacing thousand-year-old trees with neatly ordered plantations of small trees; we have hunted species to the point of extinction; we have driven livestock across every almost acre of the continent, baring hillsides and facilitating massive erosion; we have plowed large landscapes, transforming fertile soil into sterile, lifeless dirt; we have burned ecosystems and, perhaps more importantly, we have extinguished naturally occurring fires; we have paved thousands of acres to facilitate our movement and, in the process, have disrupted the movements of thousands of species; we have spewed pollution and dumped garbage, thereby dirtying our air, fouling our water, and contributing greatly to the warming of the planet. We have, to the maximum possible extent allowed by our intellect and never-ending desire, consumed the planet.