20% of the worlds wealthiest citizens currently consume most of the Earth’s renewable resources. The remainder of the world’s citizens brings that consumption to more than what the Earth’s biosphere can produce. It’s called Earth Overshoot day. In 2018 it fell on August 1st.
That means the renewable resources used from August 1st to the end of the year are borrowed from the future. If everyone on Earth were to live a lifestyle that US citizens enjoy, the Earth overshoot day would be March 15th. That’s more than four times the renewable resources than the Earth’s biosphere can produce.
Capitalism, the political-economy of the Modern World, is running civilization into the ground. People the world over will do what they can to obtain and maximize privileged energy-intensive lifestyles similar to the lifestyles enjoyed by people here in the US. The current generation can only steal so much from the future. What can be done? Deny others the privileges we give ourselves? The problem, of course, is that the wealthiest 20% are not happy and want more. China and India want to have material lifestyles like ours. That tells us that the privileged energy-intensive lifestyles we enjoy are absurd and unsustainable. Most people I meet take it all for granted and thinks it’s normal.
The math is simple. A civilization that cannot contain its consumption habits will destroy the environment on which it depends and
The Enlightenment created the Industrial Revolution and produced a Modern World incompatible with life on Earth. Human’s success at oversurvival is a liability that threatens to undermine everything we know and hold dear. The human capacity to engineer survival for individual members is threatening to undermine the survival of the species as a whole. We’ve wrought this disaster upon ourselves. As Carl Sagan says in A Pale Blue Dot, “In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”
What can we do? Individuals could use less energy. There is pressure to reduce the amount of energy used, to make things more efficient but much of that innovation ends up in increased consumption. Given the libertarian convictions of modern individuals, the prognosis does not look good. The situation we are in is similar to a lung cancer patient who refuses to quit smoking