Common sense has it that we are doomed for having used the earth as it was infinite. I guess the world is as good as infinite and that we should begin to use it as such rather sooner than later.
So that eco-freaks don’t panic, let me explain what i mean by “using as infinite”. When a given resource is limited, it’s use will tend to be intensive. That is, the closest something is to being unavailable, the more incentive anyone has to stockpile it and to extract it as fast as possible.
For example: air & water & food. The 3 basic addictions we come equipped with. You do not see people making stocks of bottles full of air. You do not see people trying to “breathe as much as they can”. Now just the contrary happens with food. And water, which according to common sense is the scarcest of the three, the “grab as much of it as you can and hold on tight” approach to water is so basal that it actually gives it’s name to a form of government, the Water Dictatorship.
All the approaches that eco-freaks criticise are not about taking things to be infinite. They are about taking them as finite. Finite things you have to fish as much as you can.
When something is infinite, first you do not run to get it, and second you do not put your hand in it without caution — because if something infinite explodes you are screwed.
So, despite everyone else’s alarmed claims, i think treating the world as if it was infinite is more prudent. But not because i think we are going to run out of this or that resource, but because i think the as-infinite outlook has a longer reach of vision.
To be sure, both “finite” and “infinite” are just simplifications. They are shortened forms we use to think, but the world does not easily fit on those terms: the world is a process. As in: it is dynamic, it changes — and between the previous two imperfect idea-forms, “infinite” is much closer to dynamic.
The sad and alarming fact is that we still let our reptilian brains take action for us, this part of our minds that divides everything into dichotomies, into good and bad, into stable and unstable.
Processes do not end. They only reach a point where our previous mindset is unable to grasp. A combustible does not end, it just turns into gases which escape our control. Water does not end, it just gets globed up into forms that are not directly useful to us. In the same vein, the world will not end, it will only get too complex and too mixed. And even if we manage to mess any given resource to the point we can’t keep with our present lifestyles (or even lives), even that will not be the end of our planet or of the carbon-based earthlings.
To go beyond our current (and, i have to say, not so bad) practices, it is not enough to be mild, to refrain from expenditure, to preserve. We must learn to see the world as a process. Deal with the complexity. And, obviously, accusing people of squandering “finite” resources will not do any good about this.