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Road To Ruin

Wilton Ivie

1948


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Excerpted from The Ecology of Man

  • Technocracy Information Brief #69
  • Social Trends Newsletter, Nov. 1994, No. 129

Technocracy has always insisted that the type of social operation it offers is not just desirable; it is necessary. Humankind can not continue to live at all on this Continent without drastically changing their methods of management.

During 98 percent of humankind's 7000 years of civilized existence on the earth, their technological progress was so slow that the disturbance of the general ecological balance was only of a minor consequence and only local in its effects. But the last two percent of that time - about the last 150 years - tells a far different story. During this time, humankind has become a plague upon the earth. They have exterminated or exhausted many species that once roamed the earth, flew the sky, or swam the waters by the hundreds of millions. They have plowed up the sod and slashed away at the plant growth, until many areas that were once verdant with forests and grass are now desolate. The ecological environment in which humankind as a species could flourish is now shrinking because of their own careless behavior.

Humankind has also let their population increase to the point where it has become self-destructive. They must not only combat the other elements of the environment in order to survive, but they must battle within their own species to determine which individuals and which groups are to survive. No matter how one tries to rationalize the value of human life, one cannot escape the conclusion that there are just too many human beings on the earth.

As a result of this overburden of human population, the destruction of forests and other organic life that is consumed in the processes of human living is in many instances greater than the replacement of the particular species involved. Overgrazing of the rangelands in the western United States, for example, has so reduced the edible plants and so eroded the soil that the rangelands will not support more than a fraction of the livestock that they did 60 or more years ago. The people of North America are cutting off the forests faster than they are being replenished. Even certain species of life in the ocean are becoming exhausted, not only the great whales, but certain species of shellfish and true fishes used for food.

It is not these organic factors of the environment alone that are being disturbed by humankind's recent activities on the earth, but the disturbance extends into the inorganic elements as well. Among these is ground water. Through millions of years, the rocks of the earth have been saturated with water below a certain level. This level is known as the water table. Humankind has disturbed this ground in a great many places. They have instituted drainage to remove surplus water from the surface, which has resulted in a lowering of the water table. They have destroyed the plant cover in many places and this permits a more rapid runoff, hence less water seeps into the ground. They have drilled wells and pumped the water out of the ground at a faster rate than it is replaced by natural means. They have diverted many lakes, streams and underground flows into the water mains of their large cities and then increased the population of the cities beyond the capacities of the water to supply their needs. Thus, in many areas where there was adequate water to supply a moderate population on a long-term basis, there is now a deficiency of water because of the uncontrolled increase of the population and the shortsighted exploitation of the water resources.

Another inorganic factor that humankind is misusing is the arable soil of the earth. America has already lost over half of its top soil and continues to lose 2 million acres of its farmland to development every year. Moreover, the U.S. loses an additional 3 billion tons of rich and irreplaceable top soil each year through wind and water erosion. Alternating between years of drought and floods, and with the incessant soil erosion, America's farms are faced with an uncertain future.

But these are not the most critical factors affecting humankind's ecological balance. During their industrial growth, accompanied by the wasteful practices of business exploitation, they have become ravenous in the use of many minerals, ranging from iron ore to phosphate fertilizers. A number of the most critical of these minerals are nearing the stage of deficiency and some are rapidly approaching exhaustion. For example, the United States can no longer supply all of its own present consumption of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, manganese, and petroleum. The United States is importing all of these to meet its domestic demands. Iron ore will soon be added to this list if it has not been added already.

It is of little moment, in the long run, whether the human species on this Continent can maintain its present industrial pace for another ten years or another hundred. In reviewing the over-all picture, we have neglected the details that support the general conclusions, but the details are there in abundance.

The important thing we are attempting here is a long-range projection of humankind's ecological trend, especially as it pertains to the North American Continent. This much we can say for sure: Humankind will not be able to live on the North American Continent for the next generation as they have lived for the past generation. They have been too prodigal with their heritage. This has left them in the position of being repudiated by their environment.

The people of North America cannot continue their present magnitude of free enterprise operations for even a few more years. The environment will not supply the raw materials for this type of human onslaught for long. What the future of the people now living on the continent will become is something fearful to contemplate. Yet North American citizens, instead of acknowledging the facts and recognizing the trend, are blindly and blatantly going ahead to increase the rate of the very factors that are contributing most toward the downfall of their vaunted civilization.


 
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