The lights seen from space in the photograph above depict technological civilization’s steady growth and metastasis on the surface of the earth. All lighted areas indicate a concentrated area of technological infrastructure that must continuously feed upon resources to function. Civilization spreads into any geographic area offering resources that can be economically extracted and consumed. Just by examining the photograph and knowing that the prime edict coming from every nation is “growth”, it is not hard to arrive at the conclusion that the ecosystem is suffering from a pathological condition. I’ve concluded that this condition is a malignancy, a cancer similar in nature to those affecting organisms.

There isn’t much reason to relate this information as the disease is well into its terminal course which will not only see a collapse of civilization but also a massive collapse in ecosystem complexity and extinction of a large percentage of species. But in a punctuated equilibrium event there are both the slightest chances of individual survival that exist alongside the much greater chances of individual death. All of the survival advantages should not accrue to those that have caused the greatest damage to the ecosystem, those able to relocate and establish expensive, isolated shelters, but rather to those most passionately interested in their loved ones future survival. That governments are leading their citizenry along “the primrose path” to a dystopian future is unquestionable and should be counterbalanced with more realistic assessments.

Generally we see cancer as being an “evil” entity with malice towards the body it grows within. In many instances it causes death. But there is no intended malice, only an opportunity for unfettered growth brought about by breakage in the mechanisms of control. We could also say that humans are malicious for growing uncontrollably within the ecosystem and destroying it, but they too have escaped previous limitations, not by willful act, but through a process of organic evolution that led to the acquisition of characteristics that set the stage for their escape into much more rapid technological evolution and growth. With technological adaptations and very little evolved moral restraint towards other species and the ecosystem, an orgy of consumption has ensued.

We are likely approaching the limits to growth in which further expansion of the technological infrastructure and human population are impossible. This milestone will not be followed by a long period of sustainability as occurs when a newborn organism grows to maturity and then lives for many years supporting a static body weight. The adult phase of an organism is often just long enough to support sub-adults to maturity. The technological civilization does not have this kind of inherent resilience and has not evolved to produce progeny civilizations. Human civilization at the current scale is not repeatable, just as a terminal cancer is not repeatable for any person succumbing to it. Regrettably, the malignancy of civilization has been too successful and will reach a dead-end as it tries to innovate its way towards greater growth thereby only accelerating collapse.

What have we become?

 

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Francisco Goya – Saturn Devouring His Son