The other day I watched a documentary by David Attenborough that came out last year that I missed. Extinction: The Facts. Beyond interesting, it is the most important documentary I have watched. Important for all life on earth, it needs to be seen. This post is a recommendation.
The star of this film is a family of facts. The problem is that large numbers of people everywhere, especially in America, suffer from a superstitious fear of facts. Unfortunately, what the facts portend is already killing the fact-deniers—for example, the present rampage of the Delta variant on unvaccinated people. .
Facts, not persons, are the stars of this documentary. One of these shocking facts is that humans are causing the extinctions of plants and animals at a rate one hundred times faster than occurred any time in the past. Meanwhile, another fact, the human population is exploding and pushing toward nine billion, causing the breakdown of ecosystems everywhere, and threatening to destroy the world-ecosystem.
The human appetite for energy to make its idea of the world real has created a surplus of the wrong kind of gases in the atmosphere and overheating the planet, a process that is evolving toward global climate catastrophe. And the process is accelerating. Floods in Europe in unexpected places and fires in the American Northwest are facts that remind us of the unpredictable course of what is happening. Another fact—please note—is that barely enough time is left to save us from complete disaster.
The facts are clear enough. Humans along with their technology and economic systems have caused the current climate crisis as well as the mass extinctions. Penetrating every corner of the natural world, the plunder is for the sake of one thing: profit.
Another fact is obvious: the human population is the cancer of the biosphere. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cell systems in an organism that end by killing the organism. The uncontrolled grown of human organisms and their relentless exploitation of planetary resources—water, air, soil, plant and animal species everywhere—is a new category of cancer.
In the news today, a massive UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes with a call for “total transformation. We need change operating on processes and behaviors at all levels: individual, communities, business, institutions and governments. We must redefine our way of life and consumption.”
To redefine our way of life is a philosophical and spiritual challenge, especially to the people of the most advanced economies, who are driven by the ideals of capitalism and consumerism. To see the scope of the challenge, we might recall a point central to Plato’s psychology, according to which there are three components to our inner nature, the intellectual, the emotional, and the appetitive or acquisitive. The higher element of our psychic life is supposed to be what balances the pulls and tugs of our emotions and appetites. Without the higher element we become slaves of our emotions and appetites, and complicit with the destruction of our planet.
Another grim fact. The dominant culture is constructed to appeal to our worst instincts. Our money-adoring and appetite-coddling ethos is designed to stimulate without limit the lowest forces of our psychic life, so that our ideals are in fact feeding the fires of collective suicide. Without redefining our way of life, we will certify our identity as the cancer of the biosphere. Have a nice day.