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Globalization and Technology is Making Us Weak

William Rees is the ecological footprint guy. That is to say, he’s the author of the first paper on the ecological footprint. I did a paper not so long ago which incorporated this concept. As I did research for the paper, just as you can see from listening to Rees, the circle of implications kept widening. Once you begin to think about the concept of how much productive space populations are actually using in relation to how much they have available to them, all sorts of conclusions show their ugly faces.

Globalization and technology have allowed humanity to be successful (except you still “developing” countries) beyond what can be sustained. The developing countries are victims in this story. Basically, we rich countries have stolen from them to feed (and clothe and produce goods beyond what’s necessary for) ourselves. Technology is also important because it has allowed us to extract and use fossil fuels to grow our population to this point. As more and more people are learning everyday, fossil fuels aren’t so abundant anymore. Both tech and globalization have prevented humanity from recognizing natural long term limits. As Rees explains in this clip , the systems that sustain our lifestyles have reached a level of complexity that is dangerous to our civilization. The more complex a system becomes, the more vulnerable it is to failure. As I mentioned in the aforementioned paper, our economic systems have become so complex that it is obvious we don’t always understand what is causing certain events to happen. For example, the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 is still a bit of a mystery in terms of what caused it. If we don’t even understand how our systems function, if individuals are becoming so specialized that they can do very little on their own beyond their jobs, that makes us vulnerable. Globalization and technology have allowed us this great degree of material wealth (whether it’s actually increased our happiness is debatable, as Rees explains in another clip), but they’re more and more likely to show themselves to be our Achilles’ heel.

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