The earth is a closed ecosystem, you know, like those terrariums you made in high school. The total amounts of elements are fixed. The earth isn’t getting bigger. The only addition of new material is when we are hit by a meteorite. This doesn’t mean that the earth is static. Not at all. It is changing all the time. We all know about the past ice ages and the reign of the dinosaurs. And the earth is changing today.
We are using up all of the world’s oil. We know it will eventually run out. Fresh water is becoming a scarce commodity in many countries and even here in the Truckee Meadows. Is the earth making new oil? Probably, but it will take millions of years. The same goes for fresh water. The ice ages had no shortage of fresh water, but currently we are heating up the planet and the water is running short. I guess we can wait to the next ice age but they occur only every 10,000 years or so.
The unlimited growth model has us using up all the resources we need until we run out. After that there is no plan. By using up all the resources we need, we change the earth. When the earth changes, so do all the living creatures on it. Usually, they go extinct and new life forms emerge (the cockroach may be the exception). Therefore, we (all human beings) have a vested interest in maintaining the Earth as it is now.
Knowing this, we need a sustainable economic model where we can project the continuation of our species and the resources to sustain us. But for some reason, we aren’t doing that. We are still using the ancient model of “be fruitful and multiply” and all the world will be yours. Human beings are like a cancer on the planet. We just keep spreading until the host dies. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells and human beings are the uncontrolled growth on the planet. If we don’t change that model, we will kill our host just like any cancer.
One definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. We can’t keep on doing what we have done in the past. It won’t sustain us in the future. We need a new sustainable economic model because we can’t survive on the one we are using now.
Jeff Blanck is an attorney in private practice in Reno. He can be reached at email@example.com.