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The Dependence on Nature Law

denis's picture

I have been a researcher for over fifty years. I am used to trying to look into the minds of writers to understand their views of complex operations. I know that even the brightest and most informed people have a limited zone of understanding. And this limitation is more restricted by the difficulty of converting the mental image into the written word. It follows that there is very appreciable uncertainty about what civilization has done to the operation of its life support system, the environment. Many different perspectives are put forward. Often they express opinions without providing the supporting arguments and facts. There is increasing concern amongst informed people about current trends, especially as the gulf between the rich and poor grows rapidly and climate change becomes more noticeable.

I know that any article I may write about the unsustainable nature of the current operations of society would contrast with many others, often seemingly authoritative because of the skill of the writers. I may be able, in my mind, to critically weigh up their selective arguments but that serves little useful purpose. The general view will roll on.

I decided some years ago that in view of my limited zone of understanding, I would concentrate on getting a sound understanding of what civilization has actually done to the environment. I have done that. It is summarized by what I call 'The Dependence on Nature Law'.

I then set out to explain why this sums up what human operations have done. It is quite long because I found it necessary to define many terms I use and to clarify many of the common misunderstandings. It presents some novel perspective that needs thinking through to appreciate. 'What went wrong? The misdirection of civilization' is my attempt to articulate what has happened in a form that the non-technical can understand while showing the scientific basis.

I believe it is unlikely that many will take the trouble to think through the message in 'What went wrong' in the near future. However, I do believe that it does make a major contribution to understanding of what has happened. I do expect that in due course it will be recognized as pioneering a novel view of the impact of civilization on the ecosystem. A view that will help some in society adjust to the decline ahead. I expect that there will be increasing bewilderment as over population, climate change, water supply problems, investment failings, food shortages, petrol price rises, health problems, a long lasting recession, more global conflict and natural disasters combine with other stress factors to dim future prospects. Those who gain the understanding in 'What went wrong' could well contribute to the Earth Revolution that eases the crisis.

Denis Frith
17 June 2007

The Dependence on Nature Law

The freedom of humans to be creative and innovative is acclaimed - by us. This is the positive side of the uniquely human attribute. There is, however, a negative side that is not generally recognized.

Humans employ a huge range of transient operations they have installed that invariably involve using and abusing natural resources. Each of these operations provides something deemed of value to society during its lifetime. Each of these operations incurs an irrevocable, un-repayable ecological cost. We are irreversibly drawing down on the irreplaceable natural bounty.

I argue in 'What went wrong? The misdirection of civilization' that this Dependence on Nature Law is soundly based but that society generally does not weigh up worth against eco cost realistically. A natural law is the summation of what invariably happens during natural operations. It is therefore appropriate to classify the dependence of the material operations of civilization on what is available from the environment as a natural law. Natural operations are also dependent on what is available but generally they draw down on natural bounty income only. The consequence of society's exuberance is unnecessarily rapid degradation of our life support system, the bounty available from the ecosystem. There are too many people consuming too much of what nature has left to offer and then providing irrevocable waste. This holistic consumption predicament is exacerbated by the demands on the bounty to maintain the aging foundations of civilization. It is made worse by the gluttony of the powerful. The spree is unsustainable. It is a plague coming to its end. Catabolic collapse can only be avoided by a wise power down. Even then, there is the problem of maintaining cultural benefits even as the population declines.

The conventional economic growth paradigm is based on the fallacious argument that the materialistic structure and operations of our civilization can occur without exacerbating this holistic malaise, consumption of the natural bounty. So growth is being fostered even as the available bounty is declining more rapidly. This is an unsustainable double whammy exacerbated by the need to look after the structure of civilization.

The Dependence on Nature Law really does under lay the operation and maintenance of the foundations of our civilization. Appreciation of that fact makes it much easier to understand how it is that current trends are based on false premises, so are unsustainable. It explains what went wrong.


denis's picture

The essay 'What went wrong' can be found at