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What the numbers above mean, in essence, is that as a culture we are prioritising cars over drinking water;  plastics over food;  money over collective survival.  The common thread is a delusional conviction that human-made artifacts and arbitrary wealth-symbols are somehow more real, more essential and powerful (in a kind of fetishistic religious way) than the biotic wealth that actually sustains our life.  We would not -- as has been pointed out here many times -- be the first civilisation to founder on this delusion.

Artwork inspired by the cautionary tale of Rapa Nui:

For most people, their car is more real than a tree or a stream or a cow.  When told about the collapse of species -- even recent massive losses of honeybees -- or the diversion of food stocks into fuel production -- most urbanised and suburbanised people just shrug:  what does it matter, what happens to lower life forms?  They are not real, not in the way that our TVs and iPods and cars are real.  The voice on the TV can tell us that fish stocks stand at 10 percent of what they were 50 years ago, and that tree cover is disappearing worldwide, and we shrug or frown momentarily instead of feeling imminent fear (which would be appropriate for people trapped in a burning house or a sinking ship, but notice how I have to move to metaphors of the destruction of human-made artifacts in order to convey the feeling?)... but if anyone suggests that we may have to give up our cars or our 24x7 air conditioning or our jet travel, then we respond with outrage and fear and hostility.  Those losses are real.

Our culture has drifted so far from the biotically real world that all its major symbols and icons are divorced from those realities:  it is worth remembering that the elite of Rapa Nui really did cut down the last tree in a dedicated and serious competition to build more stone statues (symbols of wealth, authority, power, and spiritual righteousness) than the other guys.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 01:53:20 PM EST

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