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5. Civilisation

Our destructive path could not be as amplified and far-reaching, without the penultimate system of human destruction – Civilization. Civilisation consists of the urbanized society that is self-governed by its own systems. It is the resulting social structure created by a species that only applies consideration for its own desires and needs. Political systems, economical systems, classing systems, industrial, technological and agricultural systems are all housed by civilisation and have no might without civilisation as the foundation. War has been declared on the natural world by civilisation, seeking to fuel its growth and expansion no matter the cost to any other species.

Natural ecosystems consist of circular models of consumption, continually feeding back into the environment with a constant exchange of input and output between all species. These natural systems are inherently self-sustaining and self-regulating. Civilization is based on a linear, one-way consumption, utilising maximum input to fuel its growth with minimal output. Civilisation gives nothing, produces nothing of ecological value and takes a lot. There is an inversely proportionate relationship of exchange between a natural ecosystem and a civilization. Natural ecosystems prevail and flourish without civilisation; civilisation crushes and ceases to exist if they are not fuelled by natural ecosystems.

To understand the inefficiency of civilisation, lets say, hypothetically that we could build a border around any civilised city, suburb or urban environment – where the concrete of the city ends, the boundary wall goes up. The border would not allow anything from within the city to leave and nothing from outside the city could enter – be it humans, resources, food and other species. Within a short period, the city would run out of food, as it cannot sustain food production within its urbanized environment; waste would accumulate due to the fact that cities and all urban areas produce waste, regardless of the efficiency in recycling or waste management. Access to water would drastically reduce or be non-existent due to either polluted waterways or no viable source of water, besides the odd rain shower. Nothing could be manufactured or produced as no city is willing to mine its own territory for resources, nor can it provide a sustainable source for its own materials, eventually ceasing economical growth and growth of the city itself. Simply put, if a border was imposed around any civilisation – despite its scale, it would self-destruct as it is inherently unsustaining.

When looking for solutions to many of the destructive issues plaguing the natural world, we seek to tweak the different anthropocentric systems built within Civilisation. We propose Natural Capital as a possible solution that combines economical thought with environmental views; we expect changes within the political bodies of a nation to bring about societal change; we believe organized religion will deliver moral growth; we assume technology and science are the saviour to our problems and we believe that the economy is the boon or blight of our existence. We seek solutions through the frothy-surface-level systems that are inherently flawed as they are built on the foundation of civilisation. No tweaks to any systems that has civilisation keeping it in place will produce any solutions; instead the tweaks either provide lesser evils in destructive methods or amplify existing destructive systems.

Civilisation presents a paradox, as it is the global problem, based on its unsustaining exchange with other species and prospects of infinite-growth. When civilisation works most effectively, achieving its growth and expanding its potential, the majority of other species suffer or are exterminated. Any system that capitalizes and requires destructive processes, with no exchange or output to refuel its sources is inherently unsustainable. Nothing sustainable can come out of an unsustainable system. For civilisation to be sustaining, it would have to be the antithesis of what it is – hence the paradox of believing the problems caused by civilization can be solved through civilization and its housed anthropocentric-civilisation-based systems.

Modern human identity and physiology first appeared in the archaeological record an estimated 200 000 years ago. In the 200 000 years running up to today, we did experience several changes within our behaviour and cognitive ability, but essentially 200 000 years ago was the beginning of the rise of modern human beings. It is only until recently on the human timeline that we begin to see the establishment of civilization. The first signs of civilization started to take shape an estimated 6 000 years ago, where humans began documenting history, establishing hierarchal structures and governance, beliefs in higher powers and a separation from the natural world. Prior to the expanse of civilisation humans had existed as nomadic hunter gathers, followed by a period of domestication that quickly lead to the expanse of civilisation. To put civilization into perspective, of our 200 000 years living as a species, over 99% of our existence has been as nomadic hunter-gathers and less than 1% as civilised modern humans. Despite civilisations relatively recent appearance, humans were able to live, adapt and thrive as species for a far greater period without a dependence or need for civilisation.

Civilisation promotes and enables a dominance and separation of humans and other species. It is an organized and complex state of living held in place by the selfish and addictive desires of urbanized humans to fulfil their needs, regardless of the costs to other co-inhabiting organisms of Planet Earth. The Egyptian, Mayan, Greek and Roman civilizations’ were unable to see that their expansion was not infinite and that they were inherently self-destructive, these once greatly perceived civilizations ultimately crumbled. We have become blind-sided by the progress of civilisation – believing that we are infallible to any demise. We believe that civilisation is our natural state of living and fear that without it we resort to barbarism. Crime, exploitation, brutal cruelty, genocide, mass extinction, violence, murder and rape are synonymous with all civilizations, the true barbarism lies within our addiction to a catastrophically destructive system.

Civilisation is the ever-expanding machine that requires human toil to keep it switched on, whilst utilizing physically finite fuel reserves that consist of other species, land and resources to fuel its infinitely assumed growth, with minimal output value besides feeding its own expanse and the few species that keep it in place. Any system that is self-destructive could not be regarded as progressive, intelligent, sustainable or effective.

Civilisation is the epitomic system of human’s greed and dominance. It is the ultimate product of a selfish natured species that has managed to overcome the majority of its limitations. As long as civilisation prevails, all other anthropocentric systems will remain, providing amplified destructive systems or lesser evils rather than solutions. The existence and growth of civilization continues to destroy all natural ecosystems, other species and eventually a large portion of humans. Civilisation is not our permanent state of living, it too will crumble regardless of whether humans are willing to topple it or not and whether we like it or not we will have to return to a nature-filled environment, surrounded by biological life and not concrete, steel and tar. We are animals conditioned to support civilisation, eventually it will collapse and we will return to our original environment – nature.

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