Control, Greed and Throw-weight
Let me lay out here the germ of an idea that keeps popping up in my thoughts about the development of our species and why we're making such a mess of our global village.
Many of the ideas leading me to this thread have come from the output of Dave Pollard's fertile mind on his How to Save the World blog. Doug Allen, in a conversation by the roadside some time ago, sparked the impetus to try to pull these thoughts together.
I see Control at the heart of our departure as a species from a quiet life amongst our fellow species inhabiting the globe. When we learned to use fire, domesticate animals, and cultivate plants we moved irreversibly and with increasing "success" away from our foraging roots. Now our very survival depends on that control. The vast bountious wild abundance we left behind is no longer there to support foraging for a living, nor do we any longer have the skills to forage for a living.
Since we can no longer make a living by foraging, we need "stuff" within our control. We need food stocks, stored to see us from season to season. We need seeds for the next seasons crop. We need fuel for cooking and heating. We need shelter. We absolutely have to have access to our "stuff" or we die. Of course we're greedy.
Throw-weight is a term that comes out of the nuclear arms race, and is used as a measure of the fire power of a missile: ie. how large a payload it can deliver and how far can it be delivered to a target. I use it here in the sense of the power of one individual to affect the world around him. Not long ago, in the forest would be a man and an axe chopping trees for fuel. More recently, that man with a chainsaw can cut far, far more fuel in a day than he could with his axe. Now his neighbor has gone in the wood business with a feller-buncher. Thus the "throw-weight'' of a man in his environment is vastly greater than it was in the not-so-distant past.
An Evolutionary Dead End?
As a species completely dependent on control and greed, and ever more successful at exponentially increasing its collective throw-weight, is mankind smart enough to get off this train before the wreck strips the land of its resources?
I doubt it.