July 5, 2005
Food for thought
I'm reading a fascinating book right now called Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. Throughout the book, Loewen decries the shoddy job American history textbooks are doing in not just teaching our students about the history of our country, but also enabling students to reach their own conclusions concerning how our past is affecting our present and future. I will be writing more about this later, but today I read this excerpt below which quite frankly blew me away in its brutal honesty.
If we consider that around the world humans owned ten times as many cars in 1990 as in 1950, no sane observer would predict that such a proportional increase could or should continue for another 40 years. Quantitatively, the average U.S. citizen consumes the same resources as ten average world citizens or twenty-five residents of India. Our continued economic development coexists in some tension with a corollary of the archetype of progress: the notion that America's cause is the cause of all humankind. Thus our economic leadership is very different than our political leadership. Politically, we can hope other nations will put in place our forms of democracy and respect for civil liberties. Economically, we can only hope other nations will never achieve our standard of living, for it they did, the earth would become a desert. Economically, we are the bane, not the hope of the world. Since the planet is finite, as we expand our economy we make it less likely that less developed nations can expand theirs.
I know this statement is in itself controversial, but what isn't controversial is how good we as Americans have it, and how much of the world's natural resources we use because of it. If everyone lived as good on average as we do, the earth would indeed become a desert. Or would it? Again, the author would have us see both sides of the issue and reach our own conclusions, but he makes this convincing argument: what harm is it if we strive towards a more sustainable model of economic growth and usage of our natural resources? If the doom and gloom prophets are right, then we have saved ourselves from destruction, but if they are wrong we have still made the earth a better place to live.
Posted by: SBG at July 5, 2005 8:17 PM
Posted by: Shane at July 5, 2005 9:08 PM