THE ECONOMICS OF EXTINCTION

Linked with Chris Maser – USA.

Published on his website/essays, by Chris Maser, 2006.

For millennia, ever since our first conscious human perception of the horizon beyond life, we have been discussing creation and extinction, life and death – at least our own. Over time, the term “extinction” has been used most often in discussing the evolution of plants and animals, including human beings. The concept of extinction seemed fairly simple; it had but one face: a form of life came into being, existed for a time, and then ceased to be. And because people tend to think of time, life, and death as linear – since we seem to have time only once – we view birth, death, and everything in between as discrete points along the linear continuum of time. In this sense, creation is conceived of as but a flicker and extinction as forever …

… Thinking like machines is only one step away from living like machines. Such a synthetic lifestyle alienates us from both ourselves and one another, as well as from Nature. In addition, such a mechanistic lifestyle leads to economic problems through the separation of social classes and to philosophical problems seated in the duality of thought in terms of either/or, right/wrong, and so on. Our synthetic, linear, mechanical thoughts and lifestyles pit us against Nature, which makes our lives increasing complicated beyond the total complexity of Nature’s diversity.


And it’s precisely because of our mechanistic thinking that we contend we can have more and more of everything simultaneously, if only we can control Nature—manage Nature, as it were. In so doing, we save the pieces we value and discard those we do not. We are thus simultaneously simplifying the biosphere and separating its parts by purposely discarding and accidentally losing pieces of it. We are redesigning our home planet even as we throw away Nature’s blueprint in the form of both species and processes.

In short, we focus so narrowly on the products that we are destroying the processes that produce them.

We, in Western society, have become so linear and mechanical in our thinking, and so irrational in our knowledge and the use of it, that we have forgotten everything is defined by its relationship to everything else, which means there is no such thing as absolute freedom. In the end, we must both understand and accept that everything – everything – is a relationship that fits precisely into every other relationship and is changing constantly, wherein change is a constant. This means the nature of Nature is systems supporting systems, supporting systems in all scales of space and time ad infinitum.

As human beings of Western society, the way we deal with, and fit into, this pattern of constantly changing relationships is by thinking. We are thus call on to recognize that any human influence in the biosphere – positive or negative – is a product of our own thoughts, because our thoughts, after all, precede and control our actions. We do nothing without first having the thought to do it. This means the problem of pollution, for example, is not in the soil, water, or air, but rather in our minds (the cause). The problem
only manifests itself (the effect) in the soil, water, and air.

We cannot, therefore, find a solution through science, technology, or activities whereby we manipulate Nature without changing our thinking, because all these things, which lie outside of ourselves, are the results of our thoughts. The only possible solutions to our social-environmental problems lie within us.

Until we turn the searchlight inward to our own souls and consciously change our thinking, motives, and attitudes—and thus our behavior—we will only compound our problems. This being the case, the question before each and everyone of us is: Do we have the personal courage and political will to change our thinking in the present for the benefit of the present and all the generations to come, or do we continue to impoverish the children of every generation—as we are doing now? (full text).

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