The plant’s biosphere we interact with is an integrated whole whose parts work together to maintain the milieu we live live in. This life-sustaining environment and its support systems, such as the carbon cycle, which circulates carbon between living matter and the atmosphere, are kept in balance by two things. One is called ecology, and the other is what James Lovelock calls “Gaia.” Ecology maintains population balance between the many species of plants and animals that inhabit the earth. Gaia, by interactions between life forms, and the inert materials of our planet helps maintain the conditions (atmospheric composition, temperature, air pressure, humidity, etc.), in which life can thrive. If Gaia did not keep levels of atmospheric oxygen lower than twenty-one percent, animals could not burn enough food energy to function properly. If the oxygen content were higher, vegetation would burst into flames. Small amounts of ammonia in the atmosphere neutralize sulfuric and nitric acids there , which would kill vegetation if they fell to the earth dissolved in raindrops. If our planet’s atmospheric pressure dropped significantly we would explode.
Things are not only connected with each other in the present, but to things in the past and future as well. To truly understand the way things are and what is happening we have to understand our history and evolutionary past. Sadly, as links in a chain and beneficiaries of our past and present, we show little concern for those who will follow.
Some of the failures to see connections are obvious, yet we ignore them. Continuous population increase and economic growth on a finite planet is impossible. Nevertheless questioning unending economic growth is taboo. Even many environmentalists won’t do that. Malaria is a dangerous and debilitating disease; however, controlling it without addressing population growth is creating terrible conditions in Africa. Prohibiting the distribution of means for birth control as some nations and organizations insist on doing makes no sense, but they keep at it.
We have trouble recalling, connecting, and utilizing information, significant as it might be, that is not clearly related to a particular situation. Should they think about it, most economists, politicians, and business people would know that neither our nation’s population nor its economy can grow indefinitely. Yet when these things fail to grow, they register alarm. While they are understandably concerned about the problems that accompany a stagnant economy, they totally ignore the consequences of perpetual expansion. It does not occur to them that many current problems are the inevitable result of past “successful” growth. We may value how much a person knows, but usually show little concern for their ability to make any but the most obvious connections. People who know a lot about a particular subject and can present themselves well often gain responsible positions in society—even though they show no interest in important relationships between things. This is serious when these people make far-reaching decisions that affect the future. Peter Seidel, Excerpt from book – ‘THERE IS STILL TIME!’