I was watching a documentary style program last night about the earth and our impact on it. Very specifically it was showing how, in a very short span of the last 100 years or so, we have changed it so drastically. How our societies and demands on the planet have altered it and impacted it.
What struck me so deeply was my reaction to the sheer vastness of peoples consumerism and what it has done to shape industry. When you see the size of the ships carrying thousands upon thousands of containers of commercial goods it’s mind boggling. The expansiveness of its reach is astounding. The volume of goods that are “needed” to satisfy the demands made me feel sick. Resources of time and energy and commodities that are finite…all used to create, produce and deliver things that just sink us all deeper into suffocating under what we don’t need.
The show also captured “vertical living” and how our population has expanded and the impact of that. 20,000 people living within a 0.5 square km area…packed in cage-like apartments, walkways and foot bridges from place to place…people living there can literally walk for days without actually touching “ground”. Interviews with people who are merely existing. Going from day to day “getting through” their lives. The sadness is profound.
Farming has gone from cultivating herds of animals and fields of plants to sustain us less nomadically to billion dollar industries that view living beings as nothing more than product and plants as something to be designed to produce as much as possible as fast as possible. Genetically altered cows that mature faster so they can be “harvested” sooner. Animals that are born and live and die without ever seeing the sky or breathing outside air. Crops that are so modified that they now need specific other modifications so they can even grow to maturity. Any awareness of the relationship between our needs for consumption and the other living things we impact seemingly severed somewhere along the way. It spins the mind to see how blind we choose to be about how what we are nourishing (and I use that word loosely here) our bodies with is like a slow poison to ourselves.
How have we, as a species, as a culture, gotten to this point that life is something to be endured? Yes, there has always been (and still is in many many aes of the world), famine/starvation and disease and wars and natural disasters to endure. Life is hard and cruel at times. So it is for animals as well. But the existence we have ourselves in now is man-made, created by our constant “need” for more and better and excess. Now starting to fill up the ocean with wind farms because we realize the planet is being depleted of other resources to provide us with the energy we now need to merely survive. Starting to realize that the waste we produce is burying us in evidence of our excesses.
We hear all the time that if we each just made better choices and more earth friendly options then, collectively, it will make a difference. It’s a tough statement to believe when you take a clear look at the state we’re in already. All from the forward movement and “progress” of the human race. Some progress.