THE BLOG

Environmental Collapse and Mass Extinction... in Dollars?

05/05/2015 02:30 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2016

Approaching the collapse of the earth's environment by attempting to commodify nature with a dollar value is a stunning instance of the prevailing human perspective responsible for the current state of affairs. Viewing the natural world as man's personal warehouse, a factory producing goods for human consumption is the reason why people are so desperately trying to figure out how to avoid the self-delivered extinction scenario we face today. The uncanny absence of sentiment and sense of connection in this assessment suggest a separation of feelings and intellect that goes beyond irony and borders on textbook schizophrenic. Is this a joke?

WASHINGTON, April 23 (UPI) -- Only the world's biggest economies top the bounty of the seas. According to a new report by the World Wildlife Fund, the world's oceans are worth a whopping $24 trillion. If the ocean was a country, it would be the seventh largest economy.

Scientists... calculated the economic numbers by quantifying the ocean's assets -- including goods and services like fisheries, tourism and coastal protections. Researchers placed the annual value of the ocean's goods and services at $2.5 trillion. But the report claims the ocean's health, and therefore its economic value, is declining.

'Our oceans are the planet's natural capital, a factory producing an incredible array of goods and services that we all want and need,' Brad Ack, senior vice president for oceans at WWF, explained in a press release. 'But every day we are degrading, over-consuming, and polluting this productive asset to a point of ever diminishing returns.'

Wow. The oceans depicted as a factory producing an incredible array of goods and services that we all want and need -- a productive asset. Were the authors of this report so incorporated into the unfeeling, calculating mindset that prevails in contemporary society or were they just putting their argument in terms that they felt would sell their message, i.e. dollars?

The human impact on the overall earth environment is bringing the cycle of life, as we know it, to a close. Commodifying living nature and presenting it as an economic entity whose primary value is estimated by its utility in fulfilling ever increasing demands set by human consumption and profit taking, seems, well, antithetical to the possibility of moving human awareness and consequent activity to a more balanced state. If consumption and profit are the only parameters of value that we can bring to the equation, then the game is probably over.

We have, through a history of relentless destruction, set a rather large wheel in motion. The primary engine turning that wheel is human activity guided by mistaken and distorted views and beliefs concerning man and his relationship to nature. The human caused unbalance that is threatening all life on this planet is not the result of technical mistakes. It stems from behavior based on fictional beliefs -- beliefs that place man above and consequently outside of nature. Until these underlying, prevailing views are abandoned and discarded, nothing can change. The machinery of extinction that we face right now is the behavior of the human majority. No more. No less.

When consciousness that everything is part of living nature, begins to surface, we become aware, not only of our connection to each other but to everything. We are part of nature. This elusive feeling rests just beyond the frustrating curtain of mist that limits our vision. It is what we so long for but can never quite resolve, define or attain. The difficulty in reaching this level of awareness arises from being born into a social order that seamlessly rewards and reinforces reason and intellect, while, at the same time, discourages, downgrades and inhibits feelings and intuition.

The gravity of our situation is so pressing that it is becoming clear, even to the most closed and rigid individuals. There is increasingly less consolation and comfort in the knowledge that, we are all in the same boat. The boat is completely out of control and breaking apart. It is not a bad boat or a wrong boat. It is simply a faulty, unnavigable vessel that will not survive the voyage.

The relatively minor eddy of human activity in the unbounded current of universal process, though barely noticeable, does, however, exist and register in the totality. Like any other system in nature, it too, is destined to seek and find balance. Perhaps our confusion and foundering lie in the limited scope and frailty of our vision and not in the essential fiber of our hearts and souls.

Joseph Carlisi's book, "Playing God on the Eve of Extinction" is now available on Amazon.