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Excerpt from Endgame

Neck Deep In Denial (p. 369)

From chapter "Neck Deep in Denial"

Anybody not neck-deep in denial must by now understand that the global economy is utterly incompatible with life. That much is clear. But why is that the case? Understanding that took me years, even though, when you get to the bottom of it, it’s pretty damn obvious. Here it is: A global economy effectively creates infinite demand. There you have it. That’s a problem, because no natural community—not even one so fecund as the salmon used to be, or passenger pigeons, or cod, and so on ad absurdum—can support infinite demand, especially when nothing beneficial is given back. All natural communities survive and thrive on reciprocity and cycles: salmon give to forests who give to salmon who give to oceans who give to salmon. A global economy is extractive. It doesn’t give back, but follows the pattern of the machines that characterize it, converting raw materials to power. Combine an extractive (machine) economy with infinite demand, and you’ve got the death of pretty much everything it touches. Duh. I first gained this understanding from an email someone sent me. She lives in Canada and wrote that until a few years previous her valley had been full of grizzly and black bears. She used to see maybe a dozen bears on an average spring, summer, or fall day. Now she was lucky to see one a week, and it was usually the same bear. The difference, she said, was that hunters had discovered the Chinese market for bear gall bladders. The market would consume as many gall bladders as the hunters could take. So they took them all. It was immediately clear to me that the local human community could have killed basically as many bears as they wanted for gall bladders, because I’m sure the market is pretty small there. And besides, if they kill all the bears, how will they get more gall bladders tomorrow? But as soon as you open up the market to the entire world, not only do you lose the face-to-face feedback of seeing your future supplies dwindle on the altar of today’s profits, but the demand for something even as esoteric as gall bladders becomes more or less infinite. No population can support that. That is exactly what happened to great auks, passenger pigeons, Eskimo curlews, cod, salmon, sperm whales, right whales, blue whales, humpback whales, roughy, sharks, white pine, redwood. Everything. No population can support infinite demand. No population can survive a global economy. The problem is inherent, not soluble by any amount of tinkering.