Thomas Henry Huxley - biologist, autodidact, and one of the finest minds to grace this planet, once set out a lucid metaphor for the existence of each individual. He conjured the vision of a high stakes chess game against a compassionate yet ruthless opponent. It was up to us, he said, to learn the rules of the game through our own knowledge and analysis of facts as they related to reality. In this ultimate game, ignorance would be severely punished.
Today, urged on by ignorant economics that sits at the altar of growth, growth and more growth, we sit before a chess game in which the odds are already stacked against us. We speak of growth but not of the environmental costs, nor of the finite nature of our planet's resources - itself a result of our foolish siloed approach to each and every discipline.
At best, the more progressive wings of economics have proceeded to assign a monetary figure to an inherently invaluable environment. Perhaps this should be of no surprise, for we live in a world today that exalts quantification, believing, in our hubris, that everything and anything is both fully understandable and can be assigned a numerical figure. How long before a numerical value is assigned to each species. How much is the Bengal tiger worth? Or the Asiatic cheetah?
In a sense, if strictly adhered to, all ideologies and 'isms' are foolish and divisive tools that only serve to narrow human reason. Man's first duty, as Huxley saw it, was to seek the truth, using the application of scientific methods of investigation to all the problems of life. A scientific approach demands that we observe the world as objectively as possible - free from all preconceptions or presuppositions - and to take corrective action when our behaviour leads into a series of disastrous moves.
We must therefore ask whether rampant consumerism and economic growth - like a slow-acting poison - is murdering our planet. No matter what we may wish and hope for, the facts point to an affirmative answer, with us and our modern-normative way of life as the guilty party. Yet even without such facts, logical reasoning alone should tell us that a throw-away and buy more consumer culture, alongside an ever-expanding human population, is unequivocally unsustainable. Yet on we march, led by ignorant economists and politicians, to the tune of growth, growth and more growth. Meanwhile our opponent sits opposite us, weeping for the fate that we have brought upon ourselves, her hand trembling as it reaches to make the final move.
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