Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Overriding Issue of Our Time

by Richard Crews
In ages past the overriding issues of the day were Ice Ages and Migrations, and the Spread of Civilization; later, Barbarians at the Gates; and in the 19th century, the Hegemony of the Sea which, in the 20th century gave way to the Hegemony of the Air.

The 20th century was also dominated by the Rise of Fascism, then Communism, and the Cold War, with the Threat of Nuclear Annihilation. Behind this was the Rise of the Military/Industrial Complex, with the Space Race leading into the Space Age.

Are we now in a era dominated by Islamic Fundamentalism, or Terrorism?

Some would say that the Explosion of Technology defines our age--especially Nanotechnology, Information Technology, and Artificial Biology. Or perhaps the remarkable advances in Materials Science that underlie those.

These have fueled an Era of Globalization with the coming rise of China and India to World Economic and Political Dominance. The U.S.--still far and away the world's leading economic, political, military, and cultural power--may seem to own Political Paralysis for now, but Cancerous Government encroaches on all fronts, East and West, driven by Income Disparity and Entitlement Burdens (related to Geriatrification of Populations and of Governments).

But more important perhaps is the Loss of the Western Soul: whereas once the U.S. and Europe were seen as the Beacon of Humanitarian Values and Progress throughout the world, they now Govern in Secrecy, Condone Torture, and preside over Worldwide Decline in Civil Rights including Mass Starvations and Genocides.

Perhaps our overriding concern should be the context: the Population Bomb, and growing Water and Food Shortages, and the Exhaustion of Natural Resources from fossil fuels to mineral deposits. Perhaps worldwide escalating Pollution of the Atmosphere, Land, and Seas, perhaps with Global Warming pushing the climate toward a tipping point.

But these are all brushstrokes in a single painting: Humanity has Overreached the Bounds of Balance of a Resilient Planet. Once the Earth was so large, its atmosphere and oceans and land masses so vast that a camp fire, even a forest fire, did not matter much; dumping wastes into the land, sea, and air were more than balanced--they were overcome by the enormity of the Mother Earth who nurtured and sustained us. But humanity and its effects, once a small blemish on the face of nature, have grown and spread into an enormous cancer which our planet can no longer hide, nor cleanse, nor cure.

Humanity has Overreached the Bounds of Balance of a Resilient Planet: that is the overriding issue of our time.