Best-Of Advice

On our ecosystem

I know you believe that buying fair trade is self-righteous and doesn’t really make a difference because we’re all still buying from the same system and I agree with you. So what is your overall opinion of the damage humans are doing to the earth’s ecosystems? What changes, if any, would you make if you had the power?

I never said buying fair trade is self-righteous. It’s a consumer preference just like any other. Whether it’s a fair trade logo, a recycle symbol, or a “Made in the USA” sticker, you’re only self-righteous if you think your consumer identity somehow makes you a better person.

As for your larger question about the planet, people tend to ignore the rather obvious fact that the earth as an ecosystem is self-regulating and self-sustaining. It doesn’t give a fuck whether we’re here or not, and on a geological time scale, human influence on the earth’s ecology is a fucking burp. It’s nothing.

When people talk about damage to the earth’s ecosystem, what they really mean is damage to the extent that humans aren’t able to continue living in it, either comfortably or in such numbers. Sure, we also care about a short list of our favorite species, but ultimately it’s all quite self-serving. Of course, that’s perfectly fine by me. I’d prefer that we all thrive, because we’ve got some serious evolving yet to do.

The best way to ensure that our ecosystem stays habitable is to make a dramatic shift in our primary energy source in the coming decades. The world economy is petroleum based. That simply has got to end. It’s dangerous, dirty, and quite frankly, it’s not like we really have a choice. At our current rate, we’re probably gonna run out of oil in our lifetimes anyway.

As a species of seven billion strong and growing, it’s inevitable that we’ll reach a tipping point where the necessity for clean, renewable energy will outweigh the moneyed entrenchment of petroleum based energy. I just hope that tipping point doesn’t come in the form of World War III or global economic collapse.

If it were up to me, I would have gotten ahead of the curve already. Instead of dumping three trillion dollars into the Iraq war, I would have made a concerted, multinational push for the major scientific breakthroughs that are needed in solar power and inertial confinement fusion technologies to revolutionize our global supply chain with clean, renewable energy.

That shit would have made the race to the moon look like fireworks, and honestly, that’s what it’s gonna take if we want to keep upwards of ten billion people alive after the oil is gone.

So, on behalf of the earth’s ecosystem, what changes would I make if I had the power? Short answer, I’d move humanity into a post-petroleum world as soon as possible and on our own terms by throwing a bazillion dollar party for solar and fusion technology.


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