Everywhere in the news, political leaders, economists, industry leaders and even scientists stress "growth" as a factor of well being and success in our society. We want to grow our companies, our production, our consumption, and we go as far as measure the success of a country based on its GDP. Yet it doesn't require a rocket scientist to see that this view point is, to say the least, insane. In a world that is limited in its resources, space, and energy, continuous growth can only lead to collapse. In fact we've seen this over and over in past civilizations in our history. So why do we keep stressing this?
In the 90's, a great scientific study was carried in a stadium-size enclosed self-sustained capsule whose purpose was to show how we as a species could live on other planets. A team of eight scientists eagerly entered the capsule for an experiment of the duration of two years, during which they would have absolutely no exchanges with the outside world, not even water or air. They would sustain themselves merely utilizing the varied vegetation and animals enclosed in the biosphere, and show once and for all that human-kind has conquered the world. Nothing could have been more astray, as the poor scientists were in for a rude awakening. Early in the experiment they realized they did not have enough oxygen: they had to take it from outside about half way through the experiment, in order to ensure their survival. That wasn't the end of it: soon it became clear that they wouldn't have enough food for the duration, so they ended up starving themselves on an 800-calories per day diet i order to survive. At the end of the experiment, the scientists came out deprived, consumed and demoralized, looking far older than when they entered, and with serious psychological and physical problems.
If anything this experiment should teach us how grandiosely we overestimate our ability to survive rationally in our environment. It showed us that even the most informed, the scientists in the field, have absolutely no idea of how much we actually consume, and how we are really deplenishing our resources.
There is another entity in this world, whose main prerogative is growth, with no concern whatsoever for the environment of its hosts nor for the depletion of its resources: we call it cancer. A damage in the cell's DNA disables the moderation factors that limit its division process, thus leading it to replicate indefinitely, and to growing without limit. Eventually, this will intoxicate and deplenish the host to the point where it may die. Do we see a similarity here to our current situation?
In general we live in a collective illusion that our life-style is somehow is acceptable. The number of people in the world in denial of the effects and/or causes of global warming is still stunning. We keep electing narcissistic leaders whose main aim is to inflate their ego via material and non-material achievements, rather than to help and heal our world. We keep spending resources in warfare and gadget production instead of education and in finding means to to change our lifestyle. Insanity of ego seems to be the norm.
When will we wake up? When the last bit of arable land will be lost through intensive farming? When the last barrel of oil will be burned? Or when the pollution and drastic environmental effects will make our atmosphere toxic and unlivable? My hope is that we will wake up a lot sooner than that. However for that we will need to start some drastic change.