The publicly owned corporation serves as an example of a pervasive pattern that cannot accept stability; if it does not provide a regular, growth-based return to its investors, it will find itself quickly dissolved. The press, politicians and the general public often rush to express surprise at the corporate decision making process. Why won’t corporations act as more responsible citizens, help protect the environment, or take better care of their employees? Doing so may provide long-term benefits, not only for society, but also for the corporation’s bottom line. Ultimately, however, the very structure of the corporation constrains it in its decision making process: it must respond to the short-term demand to increase shareholder value, resulting in the ubiquitous, shortsighted decision making of corporate America. Like the corporation, economists see serious trouble for a country’s economy as a whole if it temporarily stops growing,(4) as the debt and inflation based finance structure cannot handle mere stability. Any entity, whether a small business or a national economy, that finances its operation by borrowing money at interest must continually grow in order to remain solvent due to the demands of repaying the time-value of money. No wonder, then, that with an institutionalized demand for continuous growth, our society seems willing to ignore the clear realities of finite resources. This process begs the question: should we view environmental overshoot as a possibility or as a foregone conclusion if we continue with our present economic structure?
The political and social systems of the present-day world are not generated by literally Enlightened (or even highly "evolved") leaders, ideals, or institutions.
And what of the arrival of the Singularity itself?
There is the minor question of civilization’s waste, however. While mining the earth for metals may not be possible, mining our waste may be far more feasible. Of course, unattended metals rust quickly, and become unusable after a generation. However, our landfills preserve the garbage within remarkably. Might potential future civilizations mine landmills for new metals? There is, of course, an inherent limitation to such a proposition, in that the rate of that resource’s replenishment is zero. Even fossil fuels have some replenishment rate. Any such resources will quickly be depleted — such a civilization might have a chance for a brief flash of glory, barely entering something akin to a Bronze Age level of complexity before burning itself out.
“It is a crock of excrement,and none may abide the odor thereof.”
It is an unexamined bit of recieved wisdom, ridiculous once examined. Humans are animals like any other, and subject to the same laws and dictates.
Tainter’s graph of the diminishing marginal returns on complexity
Most of our current ecological problems can be organized under one of two general headings: the Holocene Extinction, and global warming. We will consider each in turn, before turning to the implications of these two looming crises.
The Coming Anarchy - The Atlantic
The first, exemptionalism, holds that since humankind is transcendant in intelligence and spirit, so must our species have been released from the iron laws of ecology that bind all other species. No matter how serious the problem, civilized human beings, by ingenuity, force of will and — who knows — divine dispensation, will find a solution. Population growth? Good for the economy, claim some of the exceptionalists, and in any case a basic human right, so let it run. Land shortages? Try fission energy to power the desalting of sea water, then reclaim the world’s deserts. (The process might be assisted by towing icebergs to coastal pipelines.) Species going extinct? Not to worry. That is nature’s way. Think of humankind as only the latest in a long line of exterminating agents in geological time. In any case, because our species has pulled free of old-style, mindless Nature, we have begun a different order of life. Evolution should now be allowed to proceed along this new trajectory. Finally, resources? The planet has more than enough resources to last indefinitely, if human genius is allowed to address each new problem in turn, without alarmist and unreasonable restrictions imposed on economic development. So hold the course, and touch the brakes lightly.
Kaplan's predictions in The Coming Anarchy dovetail in ..
Thus, ecological problems cannot be considered in isolation. Every part of an ecology affects every other part. Nor can we recieve news of ecological problems with passivity: nothing is more vital to our survival as a species than the health of the ecology we are a part of. Though our cultural mythology has created a scientific “blind spot,” by making the very question of what our inter-relationships might be, those inter-relationships still exist, and without a healthy, robust ecology, human survival itself — much less the fragile, complex societies we build on top of such ecologies — is imperilled. As E. O. Wilson described the position: