The collapse of a global economic model is what most collapse scenarios address today, not nodes, whether democracies or not, they might fall back into. I think it can be assumed that humans surviving the collapse of a global economic system will certainly find some sort of way to survive if there is enough biosphere and ability to develop survival strategies left. It doesn't take any complex economic theory to anticipate that. What I'd like to raise attention about is the selectivity features of a society, and I'm interested in looking at institutions, since it's institutions that are the medium of adaptation, whether corporate or governmental. Whether the nature of the government is democratic is not likely to have much effect if the institutions continue unabated with a certain type of adaptation strategy. I am, however, interested in looking at the institutions involved in the adaptation strategy.
My interest is in looking at individual awareness of our natural environment, the relationship between that awareness and the theories about individual psychological perspective of the world, which inevitably goes into theories of phenomenological and existential psychology. These theories deal with how we encounter the world and how we make up that world in our own minds. And, from each of our minds come the forms that make up the choices we all make in living in our various societal systems. I want to question just how adaptable those systems are that we create, what is the nature of that adaptability, and I want to use some of the same eco system forms that ecologists have created to understand our biosphere as the most reasonable model we have to resort to for an understanding of ecological systems. Just keeping the discussion within that range is going to be difficult enough, without going off into debates about what democracy is or whether it is the ultimate tool to achieve eco diversity and ecological peace.
I'm going to go back to making the correlation between r-selected species and forms of cultural adaptations that may be correlated with those. As I indicated, the r-selected species are adapted to low succession environments. Humans have shown a unique capability for using their tool making genius to create cultural strategies to shape and form the natural environment for their purposes. Their ability with these interfaces has proven to be competitive in almost any ecological setting, and for the most part there are few species, including viruses, capable of doing more than offering momentary setbacks as humans have slowly, over eons, populated the globe, and rapidly, in the past 200 years, begun to wipe out major segments of eco niches and reduced the globe to low succession, high production of key, human related species for individual energy consumption, and all of this is proving to be a very energy intensive project, because keeping a low succession environment from creating tremendous instability in its population requires a high degree of energy input. That's essentially the nature of how that eco dynamic works and it would take pages of documentation from the ecological sciences to demonstrate that, so if there's any doubts, go exploring. I learned it nearly thirty five years ago.
The reason that's an important set of principles to understand, is that the correlation between unstable r-selected species populations, which show that dramatic rise in population numbers in the above graph, and human being populations is that it's important to recognize that the correlation is not to be limited to numbers of people. It must also be based on ecological foot print concepts, and niche occupation processes which are also a result of the technology and energy expenditures of thea given societal strategy. It's the ecological footprint that the biosphere and its eco systems are necessarily concerned with. If the ecological foot print of the average North American is 12 times that of another person somewhere else, than you don't just count the bodies taking up space, you compare the ecological foot print. If you show the footprint, the population may not be leveling at all, but may continue to increase just as rapidly as societies such as China, change to high intensity forms of economic adaption. So to show that the number of bodies is falling off in industrialized societies overlooks the real facts of how much it takes to support those bodies through a system that may, in fact, be extremely wasteful of the resourse -- an inherent characteristic of r-selected species -- and and may, in fact, require increasing amounts of energy to maintain the very biosphere itself, which is being reordered into an increasingly high energy required, low succession eco system.
If without firing a shot, human cultures wipe out one fifth of the species as projected in the next thirty years, that can not be considered in ecology the attribute of a K-selected species adaption strategy.
If 12 acres of the complex ecosystems that make up the belt of tain forests continue to disappear every eight seconds or so, nearly all the species involved losing their food and homes, to be replaced by the rapidly depleting soil activities of monocultural industrial farming to support both the large and small footprints of what continues to be an increasing curve of energy needs of the global population, that cannot be considered the attribute of a K-selected species adaptation strategy.
- We are losing Earth's greatest biological treasures just as we are beginning to appreciate their true value. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.
- One and one-half acres of rainforest are lost every second with tragic consequences for both developing and industrial countries.
- Rainforests are being destroyed because the value of rainforest land is perceived as only the value of its timber by short-sighted governments, multi-national logging companies, and land owners.
- Nearly half of the world's species of plants, animals and microorganisms will be destroyed or severely threatened over the next quarter century due to rainforest deforestation.
- Experts estimates that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year. As the rainforest species disappear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. While 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, less that 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists.
- Most rainforests are cleared by chainsaws, bulldozers and fires for its timber value and then are followed by farming and ranching operations, even by world giants like Mitsubishi Corporation, Georgia Pacific, Texaco and Unocal.
- There were an estimated ten million Indians living in the Amazonian Rainforest five centuries ago. Today there are less than 200,000.
And that is certainly not the whole of the range of environmental degradation going on. The ocean fisheries are a whole nother chapter.
It's the premise of the ecopsychology introduced here that by becoming more sensitive to these features of our environment, some sense of this will become a part of our total psychological awareness, and in that sense may become an important part of how each individual approaches a variety of choices that feed back through the global economic system itself. Whether or how this exploration and the individual awareness involved may effect the powerful institutions that are a part of that system is only to be guessed at, from my perspective.