operation of civilization

The Dependence Law

The freedom of humans to be creative and innovative is acclaimed – by us. This is the positive side of the uniquely human attribute. There is, however, a negative side that is not generally recognized. Humans employ a huge range of transient operations they have installed that invariably involve using and abusing natural resources. Each of these operations provides something deemed of value to society during its lifetime. Each of these operations incurs an irrevocable, un-repayable ecological cost. We are irreversibly drawing down on the irreplaceable natural bounty. I argue in ‘What went wrong? The misdirection of civilization’ that this Dependence Law is soundly based but that society generally does not weigh up worth against eco cost realistically. A natural law is the summation of what invariably happens during natural operations. It is therefore appropriate to classify the dependence of the material operations of civilization on what is available from the environment as a natural law. Natural operations are also dependent on what is available but generally they draw down on natural bounty income only. The consequence of society’s exuberance is unnecessarily rapid degradation of our life support system, the bounty available from the ecosystem. There are too many people consuming too much of what nature has left to offer and then providing irrevocable waste. This holistic consumption predicament is exacerbated by the demands on the bounty to maintain the aging foundations of civilization. It is made worse by the gluttony of the powerful. The spree is unsustainable. It is a plague coming to its end. Catabolic collapse can only be avoided by a wise power down. Even then, there is the problem of maintaining cultural benefits even as the population declines. The conventional economic growth paradigm is based on the fallacious argument that the materialistic structure and operations of our civilization can occur without exacerbating this holistic malaise, consumption of the natural bounty. So growth is being fostered even as the available bounty is declining more rapidly. This is an unsustainable double whammy exacerbated by the need to look after the structure of civilization. The Dependence Law really does under lay the operation and maintenance of the foundations of our civilization. Appreciation of that fact makes it much easier to understand how it is that current trends are based on false premises, so are unsustainable. It explains what went wrong. Denis Frith Melbourne Australia ‘What went wrong? The misdirection of civilization.’ ‘The Usufruct Delusion’