Age of Madness, Capitalism, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Consumerism, Corporate State, Eco-Apocalypse, Ecological Overshoot, Environmental Collapse, Inverted Totalitarianism, Japan's Aokigahara Forest, Overpopulation, Psychotic Disorders of City Dwellers, The Unsustainability of Mega-Cities, Theodore Roszak
Most have heard about various studies showing the benefits to human health, both for mind and body, that are gained by contact with the non-city environment. As humans destroy more and more of the natural world, physical and mental illness will inevitably increase. For this reason, industrial civilization could rightly be called a ‘death machine’. Converting what is healthy and life-giving into something that is inanimate and disposable is the height of insanity, but this is how the economy works. All of the planet’s life-support systems are viewed through the prism of profit and loss. Industrial civilization’s sociopathic hierarchy is the result of such a system, rewarding those who can grab as much $profit$ as possible, as fast as possible.
Ironically, many of those who make it to the top of the capitalist hierarchy end up buying large tracts of the natural world, even islands, to escape what is commonly called the rat race, the game of hustling for money or trying to accumulate enough paper tokens to exchange for the necessities of life, the very things which are rapidly being destroyed by industrial civilization – clean water, air, soil, and biodiverse-rich ecosystems. We also strive to acquire “creature comforts” which are defined as “not really needed by humans, but that improve comfort or a sense of being at ease.” Imagine the billions of people who have now bought into this hustler’s game of chasing after the “necessities of life” such as ‘piped-in’ water, central heating/cooling, monocultured food crops, and factory farmed meats, in addition to the “creature comforts” like flat screen TV’s and sundry digital devices, electric appliances, mass-produced furniture, and personal automobiles. More people joining the industrialized mode of living requires the conversion of a living planet into a dead and barren planet.
Viewed from the night sky, the circuit board layout of cities glows bright like molten fire. Industrial civilization’s infrastructure scars the horizon with geometric hard lines; gone is the unpredictable mosaic of trees, grass, streams, and rock which are dug up, covered over, and flattened. The meat grinder of industrial capitalism eats up nature and replaces it with a vast grid-like design of asphalt, concrete, and energy-consuming buildings. Nature gets steamrolled over to make way for strip malls, billboards, and the game of hustling for money – what humans call “progress” and “development”. To be blunt, ecologically sustainable cities do not exist:
…the story of unsustainable cities is characterized by a ‘tragedy of the commons’ phenomenon not only in the deployment of urban infrastructure but also in the overuse of the natural capital that sustain the city.
… looking at the story of unsustainable cities from the perspective of a simple general equilibrium urban model, open access to urban land leads to high concentrations of population, huge deployment of urban infrastructure and irreversible degradation of the natural capital creating a ‘tragedy of urban infrastructure’ that undermines the sustainability of cities creating preannounced urban ruins.
Psychotic disorders are the side effect of living in present day mega-cities:
…Previous research has shown that people living in cities have a 21% increased risk of anxiety disorders and a 39% increased risk of mood disorders. In addition, the incidence of schizophrenia is twice as high in those born and brought up in cities…By 2050, almost 70% of people are predicted to be living in urban areas…
The social media cocoons and virtual realities people surround themselves with in our digitized and commodified world must also contribute to this mental sickness. The innate unsustainability of modern cities underlies this unhealthy living arrangement. For instance, Japan adopted the fossil-fuel-powered, high-consumption, industrial way of life and has gone parabolic in its ecologic overshoot:
Japan’s per capita Ecological Footprint is 55 percent higher than the world average, 140 percent higher than BRIICS and 171 percent higher than ASEAN countries. However, Japan’s per capita Footprint is 27 percent less than the average G7 countries’, of which Japan is a member. This is mostly due to the United States’ high per capita Ecological Footprint and its relatively large population size, which drives up the G7 average…
….On average, the shipping distance of food imported into Japan is about 4500 miles, approximately the direct distance between Tokyo and Moscow…
…It takes 1.5 years for the Earth to regenerate the renewable resources that Japanese people use…
For those consumed by the system, the Aokigahara Forest in Japan is the world’s second most popular place to commit suicide; the first is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
…if you look beyond the modern, Western schools of psychiatry, you find that in traditional societies among primary people, the people we once used to call primitives, that it is understood that sanity and madness have to be defined always in relationship to the natural habitat; and that indeed to a very large extent, madness is understood to be an imbalance between the individual and the natural environment or between an entire tribe or a people and its natural environment…”
“…What Auschwitz was to its human inmates — an expertly rationalized, efficiently organzied killing ground — our urban/industrial system is fast becoming for the biosphere at large, and, for ourselves, as an inseparable part of the environment… ~ THEODORE ROSZAK
Living in an Age of Madness, the best one can do is to keep from succumbing to the insanity.