Sunday, May 11, 2008

Technology has Advanced but Social Development has Regressed

Approaching seven billion (they say the world's population hit 6,666,666,666 people yesterday, May 10/08), human numbers are finally pushing into the territory of which Malthus so direly warned. Oil production has passed its peak and the price has soared over $100/barrel. World grain production is decreasing and the prices of rice and wheat have skyrocketed, even setting off riots. The ocean's fisheries are being depleted, global temperature is rising grimly, and I could go on in this vein for a long while.

It's all about the tragedy of the commons. Live for the moment. Grasp as much as you can, and to hell with the others. We just don't care about the common good and, hence, about the future.

A century ago, thinkers felt that with a new era of cheap energy and mass production, a golden age of enlightenment would surely follow. Those dreams quickly ran onto a reef.

Today our society is characterized by conspicuous consumption, superficiality, vanity, materialism and mindless entertainment. Those are the icons we worship. Instead of kindness, we have apathy. Instead of charity, we have greed. Instead of planning, we have instant gratification. Instead of caring, we are self-absorbed. Instead of sharing, we grasp for more. Instead of consideration, we have vanity and narcissism. Instead of ethics, everything is condoned. Instead of honour, we have "who cares."

Technology has made astonishing advances over the past 100 years. But we humans have not progressed one iota in improving society and how we interact with each other. We should be ashamed. Our outlook needs to change, for without that we will not be able to grapple with the huge problems we face; the Malthusian Devil will swallow us.

(Thanks to Rick Audet for his photo, posted at

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