The Great Experiment

January 1, 2007 at 8:01 am Leave a comment

As I suggest in the description of Missing the Bigger Picture, I believe the environmental, health, economic and social challenges the world faces today are not the result of malicious intent or grand conspiracies, but rather caused by the nearsightedness with which we, both individually and collectively, have lead our daily lives. Its not the most fantastic and spectacular of reasons, but I believe it to be the most accurate. But how did this happen?

It seems to me that people, in general, are progressive in nature. Indeed human progress has been a continual building process where we incrementally try to improve our individual lives. This has only become a “problem” due to it’s scope and scale and now can be described as The Great Experiment. Technology has dramatically improved the conditions in which many of us live. Increased agricultural production and distribution resulting from technological advances have had a cyclical effect on population and it’s demands upon the Earth.

And, we now find ourselves in uncharted territory. Never before in history has our planet sustained a population of this size (6.5 billion and growing). Never in it’s history has the composition of it’s atmosphere been artificially altered such as we have been slowly doing for the past 150 years. And, never in it’s history has it’s ecology been so dramatically altered. While some may argue one way about our impact and others another, I don’t think anyone can deny that we are conducting a grand experiment. And, whom will this experiment affect? Well, if you are a resident of this planet, you can include yourself as a participant.

Oh, I forgot to mention the other great experiment that we are conducting — the one on ourselves. In our efforts to improve our lives we have also made almost imperceptible and easily overlooked changes to how we the human animal live and nourish ourselves. Cars and machines have reduced our activity levels to nearly sedentary. Preservatives and the ever-growing variety of yummy food products have altered the balance, composition and types of nutrients we ingest. Industrial, transportation and product pollutants are being inhaled and ingested. This is an ongoing experiment and hints as to it’s repercussions can be spotted, not only in the latest medical findings, but also in our expanding waistlines and ever growing medical demands. Hey no one enjoys couching in front of the TV with snacks and a beer more than yours truly, but it is the scope and scale of such habits that have grown to become “issues.”

If my observations are true, are these experiments necessarily bad? Well, that is a question that only you can answer as an individual. To answer the question myself I first look at what I value, what type of world I want to live in and hope for my family, friends and future generations. I want to live in a world that is safe and clean where people are healthy, happy and not in want of food or shelter, and one in which each person has the ability to achieve their potential if they so desire. And, if I am not alone in these profound desires, aren’t our actions contradicting them? In our struggle to survive, we devote more time to our work and less to our family and relationships. While we have more “stuff” and economic activity, we our nibbling away at our own planet with little or no awareness or concern as to its consequences.

I’m hoping that the collective wisdom is not to wait and cross our fingers. But, the history of humanity tells me we learn through making mistakes. And, in experiments as grand as the ones we are conducting, I’m not sure we can afford to hold onto our nearsighted ways and miss the bigger picture that affects us all. Perhaps this is my greatest motivation for starting this Blog – while I can’t change the world, I can do what I can and that is to hopefully contribute to the collective wisdom and solutions through my voice. Good luck to us all.

In the News:


‘If we fail to act, we will end up with a different planet’

Ancient Ice Shelf Breaks Free From Canadian Arctic

Study Suggests Moderate Forms of Physical Activity More Effective at Cutting Breast Cancer Risk


Entry filed under: Consumerism, Economics, Environment, People, Philosophy, Population, Sustainability.

Lost in the Garden of Freedom

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