Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Beyond the Agrarian Age

"The new landscape of our time is us."
Edward Burtynsky

We are fully immersed in the age of making stuff fueled by a huge easily accessed caloric surplus. At this point in the neolithic age there is more than enough fuel to keep us warm and more than enough food to keep us fed. The result is a type of leisure time. Although it is not leisure time in the strict since, it is however time spent producing stuff other than fuel or food. In fact a very small proportion of the population is required to produce fuel and food. Fuel and food are produced on a massive scale so that the rest of us can participate in the ritualistic activity of trading and producing meaningless stuff.

But this is our nature, the niche we have filled along the homo sapiens evolutionary path. Some argue that the evolutionary phase of humans can be likened to a forests primary production phase when rapid growth is occurring and laying the groundwork for a mature forest where energy is conserved. I would argue that we have been in a mature climax phase for a while as we continue to increase our biomass, storing the surrounding nutrients in all the stuff we are making, much as a mature rainforest does.

The clip below from the movie Manufactured Landscapes by Edward Burtynsky captures my thoughts above perfectly. The film is a must watch for those interested in a non egocentric view of the human condition.

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