Friday, October 15, 2010

The missing link between economic growth and nature

...Look around you. The clothes you are wearing, the chair you are sitting in, the implements on the stove, the stove, the floor and walls of your room, its carpet, the lights and the switches, the electrical lines in the walls, your mobile phone, the road outside, the car you drive and all its tyres, wires, metals, glass, fabrics, batteries; airplanes, skyscrapers, tanks, missiles, computers ... were all once minerals and metals dug up from the earth, then shipped around the world, transformed, assembled, shipped again to a store near you, and sold. Or else they were living beings: trees, plants, animals, fibres, corals that had their own independent existence. Even "synthetics" began as natural elements. Is your shirt made of polyester? Polyester is plastic. Plastic is oil. Oil used to be dinosaurs, trees, plants. All of it is nature. The entire material economy began as part of the earth, buried in the ground, or it grew from it, or it was alive before we transformed it. But it's disappearing fast.

The whole situation is something new for capitalism, a shock. For two centuries it's been like a closely guarded secret that the entire economic system we live in, and assumed was forever, is actually part of another larger system, but with only so many resources and dump sites. But the secret is out. We are eating up the materials that sustain us, and the feast is almost over....
Guardian

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