(This is a long and complex subject, so this will be a multi-part series. This is just an introduction, hopefully I will directly address most of your questions and comments in future posts, If this topic offends or upsets you, feel free to not read it.)
I hate civilization! I think it is an evil, vile, cancer on the earth and to all the creatures of the earth. I’ve said that a few times but never done a full post on why I feel that way, so I thought I should. These ideas are the underlying, driving force in nearly all my actions and writings, so if you are interested in my motives, this is something you need to know.
I know many of you feel totally differently, you look at the advancements in the arts, sciences and technology and think that justifies all the minor problems we seem to be having. Many of you have written and said that you are very happy with your lives and wonder why I make things sound so bad and can’t understand why I hate civilization and progress. As far as many are concerned, life is wonderful and only going to get better!
But I would invite you to look at the world from a different point of view. Instead of thinking how wonderful your life is, maybe try to think of the very high cost your life of luxury comes with and how it effects the planet and the other people on the planet:
- Private consumption by households increased fourfold between 1960 and 2000, when it reached more than US$20 trillion. The 12% of the world’s people living in North America and Western Europe account for 60% of this consumption
- Globally, the richest 16 percent of the world’s population is consuming some 80 percent of its natural resources
- Americans, while making up only 4% of the world’s population, operate 33% of its automobiles and consume 25% of the world’s global energy supply. If undeveloped countries consumed at the same rate as the US, four complete planets the size of the Earth would be required. People who think that they have a right to such a life are quite mistaken.
- Americans make up 4% of the world population but are putting 16% of the greenhouse gases into the air.
- In 2011, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled 6,702 million metric tons CO2 (6.7 Billion Metric tons)
- The U.S. alone consumes about 25 tons of raw materials a year for every man, woman and child. That’s 50,000 pounds of raw materials for you and another 50,000 for me. Every year! I’m 58 years old, so in my lifetime, my life of total luxury has required 2,900,000 pounds of raw material.
- Americans eat 815 billion calories of food each day – that’s roughly 200 billion more than needed – enough to feed 80 million people.
- Americans throw out 200,000 tons ( 40,000,000 pounds) of edible food daily.
- Americans account for only five percent of the world’s population but create half of the globe’s solid waste.
- The average American generates 52 tons (104,000 pounds) of garbage by age 75.
- The average individual daily consumption of water is 159 gallons, while more than half the world’s population lives on 25 gallons. That means that in the 58 years of my average American life I have used 3,366,030 gallons of water
- Fifty percent of the wetlands, 90% of the northwestern old-growth forests, and 99% of the tall-grass prairie have been destroyed in the last 200 years.
- Every day an estimated nine square miles of rural land are lost to development.
- The population of indigenous peoples in the Americas (North, South and Central America) in 1492 when Columbus landed was around 50 million. In 1890 (when the U.S ended its genocide of Native American tribes by the slaughter at Wounded Knee) the indigenous peoples in the Americas numbered 1.8 million. White Europeans were directly responsible for the death of 47 million people. Granted, most of those deaths were from disease we brought with us, but I would argue they are also part of the wonderful fruit of civilization and very few of the good civilized men who brought those diseases shed any tears. After all, the only good Indian was a dead Indian. If we hadn’t slaughtered them and herded the rest onto Reservations like cattle, how could you and I have our wonderful homes and lands?
- In 1492 it’s estimated there were 60,000,000 Buffalo in North America. In 1890 the best estimates were that there were 750.
- America imported 600,000 slaves to build my and your wonderful life
I can read some of your minds now and know how you are going to respond:
- I didn’t and wouldn’t do that. People long ago did all that. Besides, we’ve stopped and don’t do it anymore.
- You are exaggerating all the environmental problems; it’s really no big deal.
- Technology will save us. We keep finding more oil and new sources of power.
- Life is wonderful and only going to get better!! Why are you such a pessimist?
- If worse comes to worse we will just abandon this planet and move on to a new one.
You need to understand this, you and I can’t live our lives of luxury without destroying the planet and using, enslaving and degrading other people. When the U.S. passed laws making those things illegal, we simply sent our manufacturing base overseas to poor countries filled with brown-skinned people. They are able to make our products super-cheaply because they have:
- No work safety rules of any kind
- No restrictions on how they pollute and destroy the planet.
- No limits on how little they pay for wages, how many hours they work a day, or how they abuse their employees.
- No restrictions against child-labor in many places.
- No rules against the use of slavery in some places.
Here is some examples of where our cheap products are coming from:
In 2008, Bloomberg claimed child labour in copper and cobalt mines that supplied Chinese companies in Congo. The children are “creuseurs,” that is they dig the ore by hand, carry sacks of ores on their backs, and these are then purchased by these companies. Over 60 of Katanga’s 75 processing plants are owned by Chinese companies and 90 percent of the region’s minerals go to China. An African NGO report claimed 80,000 child labourers under the age of 15, or about 40% of all miners, were supplying ore to Chinese companies in this African region. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_labor
In 1998,UNICEF reported that Ivory Coast farmers used enslaved children – many from surrounding countries. In late 2000 a BBC documentary reported the use of enslaved children in the production of cocoa—the main ingredient in chocolate — in West Africa. Other media followed by reporting widespread child slavery and child trafficking. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_labor
Human Rights Watch group estimates that about 12 percent of global gold production comes from artisanal mines. In west Africa, in countries such as Mali – the third largest exporter of gold in Africa – between 20,000 and 40,000 children work in artisanal mining. Locally known as orpaillage, children as young as 6 years old work with their families. These children and families suffer chronic exposure to toxic chemicals including mercury, and do hazardous work such as digging shafts and working underground, pulling up, carrying and crushing the ore. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_labor
And yet you and I congratulate ourselves on how progressive, noble and wonderful we are. “We don’t do any of those evil things anymore! We don’t have slaves or pollute and we treat labor well.“ The truth is we are exactly like the German villagers who lived outside the Nazi concentration or extermination camps. When confronted with what is really going on, we simply deny any knowledge of it, “I didn’t see it, so I can’t be held responsible for it!“ We are delighted with our $3 T-shirts, and $10 appliances, at Walmart, we just don’t have any idea where they come from or how they were made so cheaply. Somehow, they just popped up, it was a miracle!
Civilization is always evil! Sometimes we just get very, very good at closing our eyes to the totality of its evil and actually convince ourselves that we can have it’s wonderful fruit without its vile methods. We are wrong.