From the book The Future of Life,by Edward O. Wilson.
¿ 2002 by E. O. Wilson.
Published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., and with Little, Brown in the U.K.,which will publish the book there in April 2002 (¿17.99). Image:
The 20th century was a time of exponential scientific and technical advance, the freeing of the arts by an exuberant modernism, and the spread of democracy and human rights throughout the world. It was also a dark and savage age of world wars, genocide, and totalitarian ideologies that came dangerously close to global domination. While preoccupied with all this tumult, humanity managed collaterally to decimate the natural environment and draw down the nonrenewable resources of the planet with cheerful abandon. We thereby accelerated the erasure of entire ecosystems and the extinction of thousands of million-year-old species. If Earth's ability to support our growth is finite--and it is--we were mostly too busy to notice.
As a new century begins, we have begun to awaken from this delirium. Now, increasingly postideological in temper, we may be ready to settle down before we wreck the planet. It is time to sort out Earth and calculate what it will take to provide a satisfying and sustainable life for everyone into the indefinite future. The question of the century is: How best can we shift to a culture of permanence, both for ourselves and for the biosphere that sustains us?
This article was originally published with the title The Bottleneck.