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Thursday, February 05, 2004

Road To Nowhere

I'd long been thinking about the soul-killing aspects of homogenized suburban culture in America, how I thought it was psychologically damaging in ways I couldn't quite put my finger on. The increased isolation, the increased stress of modern life seems to drive a sense of alienation.

I was also thinking about how dependent America in particular is on consuming an ever greater share of the world's energy resoruces. The environmental consciousness movement notwithstanding, our land usage and settlement patterns and daily activities, as well as our consumer preferences, are driving us towards more and more resource consumption. There are two big problems with this, the second of which is even more frightening than the first.

1. There's going to be more competition for resource consumption, particularly from India, China, and other industrializing states.

2. Even if even one-third of the population of China and India starts consuming fossil fuel at the rate Americans do, the carrying capacity of the planet will change dramatically, and likely not for the better.

I was pointed to this article by a friend of mine, that tied these two things together.

It's not my belief that Americans are by nature any worse than anyone else in the world. I simply wonder if the way humanity will destroy itself is playing out here first and the USA, by virtue of being the most affluent and technologically advanced country on the planet, is the first wave. While humans can manipulate their environment like no other species in history, they may not be able to adapt their own lives to conditions if needed.


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