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[personal profile] mspt47
The fact that I am thinking and writing about this on September 11th is probably ironic. And maybe unpatriotic. But I started thinking about what I want to write about for my next paper for my Nutritional Ecology class, and this is where my brain went. This isn't fully fleshed out yet, but I wanted to organize my thoughts a bit. And say something in the process.

(Also, I don't think I said much in previous years about September 11th. So, this is like nine years of reaction coming out now. Sort of.)

I don't -- by any means -- want to try to diminish the sense of tragedy that happened nine years ago. It was a terrible and tragic thing that happened and we are right to do what we feel is necessary to remember and honor those who were lost.

But we talked about this for a bit in my Nutritional Ecology class. My professors are a little eccentric and I'm not entirely convinced their methods of teaching this class are the best or most effective, but I very much agree with a lot of what we've been discussing in class. Right now, we're talking about "limits to growth" -- how every country and society on this planet is driven and essentially obsessed with economic growth and that there is this idea that economic growth has no limits and can continue forever.

Where did the world get this idea from? The Americans. Well, okay, there is some inherent desire to grow society that is built into our consciousness that we've developed through evolution and it did drive the growth and development of all the civilizations that led to our current planet earth. But it is the United States that went to the forefront with an economic model that all other countries -- especially HUGE ones like China and India -- are attempting to emulate.

But this model is flawed. Many people (particularly economists and some politicians) still believe that there are no limits to growth. But there ARE limits. There is a finite amount of natural resources that we can take from the Earth and we are extracting and depleting them FAR faster than they can be repleted, if it all. Those who deny limits believe that technology can develop substitutes for the resources we need to continue growth.

But we can't. For example, the arctic glaciers are a MAJOR source of water for many cultures that live below them, but because of global warming, those glaciers are melting and disappearing faster than arctic precipitation can regenerate them. Pretty soon, those cultures are going to have to relocate because they can't survive without the glacier run-off. Can technology replace those massive glaciers that had been there for tens of thousands of years?

And what about biodiversity? The ecosystem is so complex, with over a million species interdependent on one another for survival. We know that the loss of even just ONE animal or plant from the web can have VERY drastic consequences on the balance of the ecosystem, and those effects can be seen to trickle both up and down the food chain. But we are currently in what most scientists believe to be The Sixth Extinction. Many known species are disappearing at an alarming rate, and this doesn't even take into consideration the species that we have not yet identified. Once those species are extinct, no amount of technology is going to bring them back.

Much of the damage we've done to the planet is the result of practices established to grow our economies, largely led by the United States. And yet, many Americans refuse to believe that there is anything wrong with what we're doing or that continued growth at the rate we've been going is spelling disaster for the entire world. Overpopulation, pollution, gouging of finite natural resources ... many believe these are inconsequential.

The rest of the world is starting to realize that we Americans have had it wrong (or thought so from the beginning). But Americans -- as a whole -- are too ignorant and arrogant to see that. We think our country is the best in the world and that every other country should be like us. But if that WERE to happen, if every country adopted the strategies and practices we've developed for economic growth, we would LITERALLY kill the planet and ourselves along with it in a matter of decades. Never mind the future for our grandchildren. We could see a collapse of the planet in our own lifetimes. And with the decline of biodiversity and the glaciers and the growing of the ozone hole and greenhouse gases, we ARE beginning to see the planet falling apart.

One of my professors the other day said that she was shocked -- BUT NOT SURPRISED -- that we were attacked on September 11, 2001. Ask yourself -- you tend to dislike people who parade around with humongous egos and are too arrogant to see much of anything beyond their own noses, right? They think they are the best and that everyone else is inferior to them. We hate people like that right? Having someone like that in your face who just won't go away and won't listen to what you have to say for long enough, and you'll want to punch them in the face.

Well, how is the U.S. any different from that in the eyes of other countries around the world, who see us spouting about how wonderful a country we are, trying to impose our (very flawed) ways of life on their cultures, and telling them to emulate us because we're so fantastic?

Yes, I remember September 11th with a somber heart. It was a TERRIBLE tragedy that should not have happened and I feel horribly for those who lost loved ones. But for people to say that it was the worst tragedy in history? False. How many people died on September 11th? A little over 3,000? Compare that to the number of children who die of hunger EACH DAY: 16,000. (And why do some people think that American lives are any more precious than those of other countries?) Or the number of people killed in the Holocaust: six million.
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