The Earth in Tumult

by Wonmi Chang, , May 20, 2010

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It is obvious that our Earth is experiencing a tumult like never before. It has the highest population rate, production rate and utilization rate of natural resources in the history of this planet. In Radical Ecology: The search for a Livable World, Merchant explains our predicament by saying "the global ecological crisis of the late twentieth century, I argue, is a result of these deepening contradictions generated by the dynamics between production and ecology" (Merchant, 10). This quote means that production and ecology co-exist in our everyday life but they disagree with each other because the increase in the production rate is equivalent to the decrease in the well-being of our ecology thus, causing our "ecological crisis".

The growth of capital disturbs nature. The world's current population is approximately 6.7 billion people. The cost of living and consumption of these people are at an all time high. Industrialized nations such as the United States and Japan (to name a few) are the reason for the depletion of our natural resources and fossil fuels. United States, a capitalist nation, is responsible for about one-third of the use of our natural resources. It has been ingrained into our thinking that laissez faire capitalism, which is of predominantly egocentric (based on the individual) ethic, should be our way of living. Laissez faire capitalism promotes the growth of privately owned businesses and their profits. The insatiable need for profit and capital is shown where privately owned businesses of a developed country would go into a poor country in order to produce and manufacture products for extremely cheap labor and take their natural resources.

In order to increase production, gross income, and boost the economy, the welfare of nature is often at stake. The burning of fossil fuels provides energy for our way of living. Because the fossil fuels are being used up at an exponential rate, many communities try to drill for natural gases. This is an obvious example of the direct contradiction between the economy and nature. The result of ruining the ecosystem is not heavily considered because of the individual and group needs. By using up our fossil fuels and burning them at the rate that we do, carbon dioxide is released into the air. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which helps determine the Earth's temperature. With the excess of greenhouse gases, we see a rise in the Earth's temperature causing global warming.

Because of the rising need for production, nature is rarely regarded, consequently deepening our "ecological crisis". It is crucial for us to realize and understand that we need to look more towards a holistic view. The holistic view believes that the "whole is greater than the sum of the parts." By looking at things holistically we can better support our ecosystem as a complete circuit and take into consideration the constraints we put onto our planet and how to fix them.

There needs to be a balance between nature and economy. We also need to realize that we are part of our ecosystem. Even in Cortland itself, we have experienced a thunderstorm with hail, snow, and then 80 degree weather all in the same week. People are recognizing "going green" but we have to think is this really to gain money in another way, or are we really trying to help our planet? When we upset nature, it indirectly and directly affects all living things within our atmosphere. We have been taught the egocentric way of life but we need to reform in order to create a more livable world.

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