I’m scared of a certain kind of person, one that we all represent at one point in our lives or another. I still do.
What I mean by disconnected covers a wide array of mindsets; those that don’t value nature and see us as a separate entity, those born into and utterly dependent on industrialized society and those who harbor the most dangerous and repulsive trait: an unwillingness to experience and learn about our natural history and what bearing it has on our future.
There are those that would characterize simply using language such as “nature” or “ecosystem” is separatist in itself. This is a broad application of a rather disturbing idea, after all, how do we describe the natural world with limited language and means of communication in order to promote the idea that we are part of, in fact completely encased in, at the mercy of, nature. Doing my best to illustrate these ideas with my limited vocabulary is also painful.
Cognitive Dissonance and the animal loving Omnivore
I love animals. I cohabit with 4 dogs, a lizard, spider, tortoise and 3 cats. I adore insect life, I’m not shy to state I’m freaking in awe of it. Every time I see a bug, time stops.
I see animals as equals with people. Every set of eyes in this world, to me, represents more windows to more souls. It doesn’t matter the size of the creature (or the fact that they might not be classified as sentient)
This is a disconnect. I eat meat. I’ve cut back on what I eat, but I still eat it. I’ll frequently get the veggie option when eating out, but, I still eat meat. There are cows and pigs out there whom if I met I wouldn’t consider eating, my poor brain would just freak out. This is a disconnect, when animals that are a food source are not present in daily life.
Having to see one’s food and then see it killed, or having to do do the killing yourself is where the disconnect has happened. Hardly anyone has to do this any more, and for few people does that change throughout their lives, unless presented with starvation in a survival situation which I try my hardest to prepare myself for. I’m pretty damn sure if it was death or kill a chicken or rabbit then I’d do ok, but otherwise, I’d never think of it. (Bows, arrows, .223’s and hatchets at the ready)
I’d feel a bit odd, another example of a disconnect, for instance killing something and then petting my dog, in my mind *they’re the same thing* the rabbit or chicken might not have the same cognitive or adorative ability as my dog but it is still an animal. Of course my dog would adore me more with the stench of fresh rabbit meat on my hands.
This is something billions of people throughout history have done, coexisted with animals while at the same time consuming them. We’ve become utterly disconnected now that only 2-3% of the population of the US is involved in agriculture, not only not growing your own food, but not rearing and killing it either. Now we have generations of folks who have not experienced that relationship with nature. Now herds of livestock are killed out of sight and things magically appear on shelves.
A good question is, would we have more vegetarians or less, if we’d never had factory farms ? If this relationship with our food was never industrialized and taken out of our sight. Interesting and I have no clue as to the answer.
The disconnect as a connection
Well, how, in my opinion did we get disconnected ? because we connected to something else. The example above, the radical industrialization of our food supply came about because of two things: mechanization of labor and, demand.
Increased food demand is also linked to the means by which agriculture was mechanized: cheap energy.
We became connected to the effects of cheap energy. Less sweat and calories burned as a result of human labor was replaced by calories of hydrocarbon energy burned to do the same work. Now this has hundreds of effects on a society but the overarching effect is dependency. Generational loss of skills that existed in wide use before abundant highly energy dense fuels did our work for us is an effect of dependency.
We have been dependent on cheap energy for a couple hundred years now and we’ve also become dependent on its chief effect, growth. Population growth over the last 150 years can in my honest opinion be directly attributed to a single factor more than any other secondary factor. Societies access to labor saving techniques based on cheap energy means an increased production rate of almost everything. The systems that cheap energy supports also support “cheap life”.
Population growth = market growth = wealth. This is a problem. This is the paradigm to which we are now enslaved. This is the paradigm that most people don’t even know exists and by extension don’t know how fragile it is, given what supports it.
The disconnect reconnects and contracts
As I mentioned above I feel disconnected, I chose to illustrate this with the relationship I have to my carnivorous self and how it is supplied with protein. I also feel disconnected from the Earth. I’ve usually got rubber, car tires or shoes, between me and her, or I’m standing on developed land. I get out and about, hiking, but its never enough and too infrequent.
Another thing I feel disconnected from is people. I live in-between two worlds. I’ve realized there is a disconnect, that people today are dependent on something that is fleeting at best and in 50 years will all but be gone. People I know understand this to varying degrees, but most are indifferent or uninterested.
People who see environmental damage such as climate change and do nothing. I’m not doing all I could be. This is an era when we should be very connected, not in a social sense, like facebook which actually makes us more lonely, but in the sense that we should be working towards a world future generations can actually live in and not consume all of our natural kingdom for the benefit of 20 or 30 generations. We shouldn’t want to “peak”
We’re doing exactly the opposite.
As society, population and energy density contract, what will we tell ourselves ? what will we tell our kids ? future generations ?