Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Random Thoughs: A Tribute to the Downfall of Western Civilization

"I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure."
-Agent Smith, The Matrix

Having really screwed up my brain for the past few weeks by reading news about doom and gloom from an impending oil shortage, global economic crash, and the fall of western civilization, I came to two conclusions:

  1. It's affecting my productivity and my ability to concentrate.
  2. I really have to stop reading this shit on the internet when I have deadlines.
Barring any sort of "Save-the-planet-kill-yourself" type heroics (I actually enjoy life and I think the world is an okay place, thank you very much), I've come to accept that the downfall of Western Civilization is going to happen whether I want it to or not, and probably within my lifetime. And why would that be such a bad thing? We've spent the past few hundred years destroying everything, eating everything in sight, wrecking the environment to the point that it would take an asteroid to wipe out a big chunk of humanity before Mother Earth can begin to reconstruct itself. Intelligent life? Sure, we've made some pretty neat stuff, but most of it's crap (the spray on toupee, the Ab-Tronic, the fast food restaurant). I think we peaked out with the pyramids and the moon landing.

It's been said that the higher you climb, the further you have to fall. Sadly, the quest for the almighty buck and the American dream has left us with nowhere to go but downhill. As holier-than-thou as we Canadians tend to be (I freely admit to it), we're not that much better. Most of the stuff I own is imported (electronic do-dads all made in China, digital camera made in Japan, exotic fruit from the Philipines...heck, even a souvenir Hawaiian piggy bank coconut, which was made in the Phillipines) and I to tend to eat a lot. But, having done a lot more reading about stuff I used to not care about, I'm a lot more cognizant about the impact I have.

With the knowledge that this planet cannot possibly support a population of 6 billion people without natural energy resources, I've tried to minimize my own personal impact by using less electricity, taking 5-minute cold showers instead of the standard 15-minute hot shower (does wonders for the sex drive and cuts your get-ready-for-the-day time in half, by golly!), and walking to the gym when I used to drive (refilled the tank at 93.9/litre, when up the street was $102.9/litre...ouch!). Mom's planning to get a hybrid. Haven't decided if I'm ready to go vegetarian or not.

Sadly, changing my own personal impact doesn't really do much when everyone else blissfully drives their SUVs like there's no tomorrow, buying their imported clothing, consuming their fast food burgers and filling the landfills with dead AA batteries, styrofoam cups, and plastic cups, all of which consume vasts amounts of unrenewable resources.

It seems like short term goals (profit margin, increased values for stocks, increased tax revenue) has blindsided the idiots at control who really have a chance to make a difference. Instead of keeping jobs at home, they farm out clothing manufacturing jobs overseas where workers are subject to inhuman working conditions. Factor in the added transport costs, and it actually costs MORE to get it overseas. But for some odd reason, these costs aren't factored into what you pay at the till.

While we may not be able to slow down the impending crash of civilization, we can slowly get back to basics and lessen the impact...grow more food at home, wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, and learn to be more self-sufficient. But then, that takes a lot of effort and sacrifice, that most people aren't willing to expend. All I have to do is get the word out...

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