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Will Success Spoil the Human Race?



Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak recently outed himself as a climate change denier. Fair enough. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, even if it makes them look ignorant. That aside, what frustrates me most about the situation isn't that people are rejecting science in favor of their own, rather poor common sense. No, that's bad enough. What really saddens me is how badly we, as human beings, seem to plan for the future.

Our very survival depends -- first and foremost -- on a viable planet for us to sustain a continuation of the species. Even if you want to contend that humanity isn't the primary cause of global warming, then at the very least you have to admit that we shouldn't help it along. After all, a person diagnosed with lung cancer is doing his or herself no favors by taking-up smoking, right?

Unfortunately, we continue to pump toxins into the air we breathe and the food we eat. We gobble-up valuable farmland so that we can build bigger and bigger houses because, well, that's progress, isn't it? We love a lavish life, at almost any expense. Forests are felled so that we may utilize the trees for more and more things. Finite fossil fuels (the remnants of dead species that came before us) are consumed to power things. Our modern appetite continues unabated.

You know this isn't sustainable, right? I mean, the term 'sustainability' has become a buzz word of late, and people sometimes scoff or roll their eyes at it but, really, it's true. We can point fingers and assign blame to different people or places, but the upshot is that we must have a sea change in how we plan for our future. Alas, that will require a different outlook than what our first world lives currently encompass.

Have you heard folks say something like, 'The next generation should always do better than the one that came before it?' We probably all have, at some point. Why is it that success and doing "better" is always measured in terms of the accumulation of money and acquirement of material things? Instead of focusing on how bigger our houses are than what our parents had, or what our cars are like, or if we earn more than previous generations, why not ask, 'Are we treating each other better than we did before?'

Seriously, success shouldn't be judged by what we have and how much we make, but by how we are. 'Growth' shouldn't be a term used for increased sales, market shares and higher rates of construction, but for how we learn and see the world, and each other. It's not as easy to quantify as dollar signs, or square feet, but then who ever said that life was easy?

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