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20th Anniversary Rendezvous - Dave Foreman

I think the shit will hit the fan in the next 20 years. We are going to pay for the madness that's been going on for the last 10,000 years.

We can now see conclusively that the human species has overshot the carrying capacity of the Earth. It's not a matter of reform. It's not a matter of liberals or conservatives, Republicans or Democrats, the United States or the Soviet Union, the Third World or anything related. It's that the Earth can no longer support 5 billion or more human beings. The next 20 years are going to be a very grim time indeed.

There's an insane optimism among people that technology can always save us. It is similar to the South Pacific natives who formed the cargo cults after World War II. They built imitation airplanes and sat and waited for the American soldiers to come in with the watches and canned food. It's a fundamental philosophy of the modern era of humanism that all problems are solvable by people, either through technology or social engineering. That attitude is stark raving mad.

What should we do then? My position is that I don't have the answers. I'm just trying to figure out what questions to ask. I have recently gotten pretty distrustful of people who really seem to have the answers, who say "here's the solution." I've even gone so far as to begin believing that looking for answers, or seeing things as problems to be solved, really is the actual problem.

What's gotten us into the mess we're in is that we look at things from an engineering standpoint, and have for quite some time. We say okay, here's a problem, how do we solve it? And in nearly every case when we solve the problem we create several more problems, and we just keep getting in deeper. The way we look at things ignores the fundamental problem, which is that we're out of balance. Human beings right now are using 30 percent of the total photosynthetic production of the Earth, and for one species out of several million that's truly excessive.

My entire adult life has essentially been spent as a professional environmentalist looking for solutions and trying to devise reforms. I now think that it's an arrogant attitude to think we can solve problems. At this point I merely want to prevent the thrashing of the dying industrial system from destroying the last vestiges of native diversity., A major project for people who love life and love the Earth over the next 20 years is to try to set aside wild areas where evolution and natural diversity can continue, and to safeguard it from the turbulence that's going to happen.

You can't really do that by saying we're going to reform society. You do that by thwarting industrial society. That's best done by adopting an Eastern kind of mindset we aren't going to confront things head on, but we're going to sidestep it. We're going to let the mass power of industrial society trip.

This is what we call monkey-wrenching. We aren't going to try to reform the forest service, nor are we going to try to cause a revolution that overthrows the system. We are simply just going to make it cost too much. Revolution or direct opposition is self-defeating in that you become that which you're fighting. When you put yourself directly in opposition to something you then become that. (This is all very la-la for a New Mexico redneck like me, but I haven't gone totally over. I think the only good cow is the one on the plate. I'm trying to get rid of cows by eating them all. I think I was a vegetarian once for a couple of days.)

Not having answers also applies to us. Among,those of us who take something of a radical position or try to be creative in looking for new ways to do things, we sometimes think we've found the one true way. You develop a certain arrogance and a closed mind about it. I have my monkey-wrenching approach, but I don't claim that that's the only way. From an environmental standpoint, just about every group out there is doing something worthwhile, from the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, the Sierra Club,   < Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, to the Greens, and the Christian stewardship movement.

I'm questioning some of the basic myths of our civilization, such as the idea that we can always work things out, and that human beings are somehow special and different. Whether it's liberal solutions or conservative solutions I want to poke more holes into them. I'm interested in looking into all the ways that the emperor really doesn't have any clothes on.