DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4586-8.ch015
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The principal ideas of the book are summarized. Two stories are told about the future of the planet, a positive story and a negative story.
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The Origins Of Human Separation From Nature

Our immediate ancestor Homo erectus made tools complex enough to save and store, thus creating a purely human space. Homo erectus later tamed fire and built temporary shelters, again altering the relation of human beings to nature. When our species Homo sapiens appeared, our ancestors made and wore clothing, carried out ceremonial burials, began making representations (cave paintings), and exterminated nearly all animals larger than themselves.

But the developments that most separated humans from the ecosystem were farming and civilization. Both are fairly recent developments, farming dating from about 11,000 years ago (6% of our species’ time on earth) and civilization about 7,000 years ago (4% of our time on earth). Farming separates us from the ecosystem by replacing the ecosystem with plants and animals of our own choice. But farmers must still respect the environment which allows those plants and animals to thrive.1 Farming also makes civilization possible by producing a food surplus, so that a number of people are free from work connected with producing food. This separation from the environment enables humans to develop a wide range of activities, pursuits, and occupations, accompanied by many technological innovations. These new activities and innovations are often regarded as demonstrating the superiority of humans. But since almost all these pursuits and innovations benefit humans only, it is only physical superiority which is once more demonstrated.

When modern technology arrives on the scene about 250 years ago, conflicts with the ecosystem accelerate. The main culprits are products and by-products which are either toxic in themselves or cannot be incorporated into the ecosystem—not biodegradable, in other words. With the advent of what could be called postmodern technology beginning about 1900, things get much worse. Postmodern technology largely produces petroleum-based products incompatible with the ecosystem. These products replace products compatible with the ecosystem.

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