Another lie we tell ourselves: “Human life requires polluting and depleting”

June 6, 2024 by Joshua
in Models, Nature

Rationalizations and justifications no matter how specious and self-serving sound legitimate and true to the person using them.

I hear a lot of rationalizations and justifications on why people pollute and deplete. To the person saying them, they sound legitimate and true. Rarely are they.

The other day someone repeated one I’ve heard before but didn’t realize how insidious and powerful it is. The person saying it stuck with it with all he had. When I asked to justify it or say where he learned it, he couldn’t answer.

A big part of a culture is beliefs people in it don’t question. This one was that life requires polluting and depleting. Many people say it. It serves people who pollute and deplete well because it says that you can’t help it. It excuses you for doing things that hurt innocent people and wildlife.

Rather, it would if it were true. I pointed out that humans lived for 250,000 years without lowering Earth’s ability to sustain life in general or human life in particular. He wouldn’t have it. He gave examples from after the agricultural revolution.

He confused killing an animal or plant with pollution. I pointed out that animals kill plants and animals. Were they unsustainable? He then confused properties humans have, like reason, with sustainability.

It’s so tempting to believe we can’t stop polluting or depleting, no matter what. We can. A failure of one’s imagination to imagine it means nothing.

After we spoke, I thought about examples of cultures that lived without polluting. One clear case was Hawaii. When Captain Cook found them, they had been living for at least 500 years on a few small islands. Could they have lived that long if they lived unsustainably?

Our culture requires polluting and depleting. Human life and well-being doesn’t require our culture, nor polluting or depleting. We can live and thrive sustainably. If you believe otherwise, your belief flies in the face of hundreds of millennia of contrary evidence.

Here’s Hawaii. We could restore where you live to such abundance. In fact, humans can go beyond sustainable to restorative. Podcast guest Alan Ereira‘s BBC documentaries about the Kogi show how they restore land that our culture had wrecked.

Venice Falls Maui Hawaii

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