Biosphere Collapse: The Biggest Economic Bubble Ever
Biosphere Collapse: The Biggest Economic Bubble Ever
By Dr. Glen Barry /

“Horrendous inequity whereby a few hundred people possess half of Earth’s wealth as more than one billion live on less than $1.50/day is evil incarnate and will kill us all… The human family will only avert biosphere collapse if we choose to live more simply, share more with others, go back to the land, have fewer kids, protect and restore ecosystems, grow more of our own food, end fossil fuels, and embrace social justice and love.” – Dr. Glen Barry

Newspapers are full of disastrous warnings if economic growth does not return to Greece, or if it drops a couple points in China. Rarely in human history have so many been so fundamentally wrong about a matter of such importance as the desirability, and even the possibility, of perpetual economic growth.

The real threat to human well-being is not that there is too little economic growth. Rather, it is that there is too much, and that we have overshot how much growth can occur without collapsing our shared environment.

The industrial growth economy is ravaging natural ecosystems. Stocks of natural capital – including water, soil, old-growth forests, wild fish, etc. – are being pillaged to artificially inflate short-term economic growth numbers.

Modern industrial capitalism’s narrow focus upon GDP growth as a measure of a society’s well-being utterly fails to account for the very real and detrimental costs of liquidating Earth’s natural life-support systems.

Infinite growth on a finite planet is a recipe for disaster. Nothing grows forever and trying inevitably rips apart any system seeking to do so.

Continued ravaging of Earth’s natural ecosystems for short-term growth is the biggest economic bubble ever. Such a short-term, myopic focus upon economic growth can only end in social and ecological collapse.

The problem

The global ecological system is collapsing and dying. The biosphere – our one shared environment that makes Earth habitable – is having its constituent ecosystems liquidated for resources. Inequitable overconsumption has achieved such momentum that key ecological planetary boundaries have been surpassed, raising the very real possibility of humanity pulling down the biosphere as we collapse.

Far more is at stake than abrupt climate change as natural ecosystem loss, ocean dead zones, freshwater scarcity, soil erosion, nitrogen deposition and many other aspects of ecological decline merge and worsen the others.

This sudden surge of human impact upon the naturally evolved biosphere – as human numbers went from one to seven billion in just over a century – can fairly be characterized as willful ecocide.

Yet this relentless industrial growth continues to be falsely equated with progress. Many are unlikely to respond to warnings of imminent doom from specialists until they are much more uncomfortable and unhappy than they are now. By then it will be too late.

Progress to avoid global biosphere collapse has been impeded by numerous other maladies that plague the human condition including inequity, permawar, disease, abject poverty, and authoritarianism. Horrendous inequity whereby a few hundred people possess half of Earth’s wealth as more than one billion live on less than $1.50/day is evil incarnate and will kill us all.

The vision

Exponential economic growth on a finite Earth can only end in collapse. Humanity must embrace a steady state economy – whereby the increment of natural capital harvested is replenished annually – or being ends.

The human family will only avert biosphere collapse if we choose to live more simply, share more with others, go back to the land, have fewer kids, protect and restore ecosystems, grow more of our own food, end fossil fuels, and embrace social justice and love.

Large and connected natural ecosystems must remain the context for human society. Human settlements must exist within the limits of their bioregions, linking human being with local ecological constraints.

Those that are smarter and work harder will still have more, but not grotesquely so. Basic needs of all of humanity, natural ecosystems, and kindred species will be met. The challenge of our time is to quickly embrace these necessities while remaining free, and extending the benefits of an economically secure and free existence to all of Earth’s inhabitants.

Failure in efforts to promote smaller families, end fossil fuels, and to restore natural ecosystems will mean worsening widespread ecological havoc, mass death and the bad sort of anarchy, before humanity and Earth drop into nothingness.

The transition

A better life than endless consumption of toxic crap that kills ourselves and others is possible. It requires returning to the life-giving envelope of natural ecosystems and valuing experience over stuff. Much is already known regarding proven techniques to live and work more sustainably, educate yourself and start transitioning your family to live more lightly upon Earth.

We each must seek to go back to the land. More of our subsistence will have to come from what we can produce from the land and soil and sun and hard labor. The future of work lies in permaculture, regenerative enterprises, and creative self-expression that nurture learning and human evolution.

The Jeffersonian vision of agrarian democracy requires living full healthy lives upon the land, from the fruit of our own hands and minds, will rejecting authoritarianism and its pernicious hate, bigotry, and scapegoating. We must join with others in our community to re-localize our existences, as we fully embrace the global family.

For capitalism to have any future as we mobilize to avoid biosphere collapse, a global carbon tax that seeks to rapidly phase out fossil fuels, and de-industrialization of all activities that negatively impact the biosphere, will prove essential. Otherwise industrial capitalism will have to swiftly be replaced at any cost.

In America and the world we are already witnessing the rise of authoritarian demagoguery in response to rising scarcity. The charlatan nature of such political thought must be outed as we commit to green liberty and transitioning to socially just ecological sustainability. Together let’s make it so.


** Dr. Glen Barry has written Earth Meanders essays for over a decade. He intends to do so more frequently and seeks your financial support at opportunities to syndicate and otherwise publish these deep ecology and liberty writings.

0.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 22,603 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 14,102 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 7,344 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
No Moral Superpower: Arundhati Roy, Edward Snowden, and the Crimes of Empire
Jake Johnson · 6,435 views today · When Arundhati Roy was preparing, in 2014, for a trip to Moscow to meet Edward Snowden, she was troubled by two things. One of them was the fact that the meeting was arranged...
And After the Election, The Reaction
Ret Marut · 4,267 views today · Could there be any better illustration of the shortcomings of representative democracy than this year’s Presidential campaign? For months upon tiresome months, the whole world...
'The Climate of Fear Is Unacceptable' - Ken Loach on I, Daniel Blake
6 min · 3,477 views today · Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning film I, Daniel Blake tells the story of a man who is denied disability benefit after a heart attack and who is then subsequently caught in a...
Three Massive Mergers - Millions for One Bank and a Disaster for Food, Water, and Climate
Wenonah Hauter · 2,545 views today · In addition to advising on all three mega-mergers, Credit Suisse is playing a big role behind the scenes of the Dakota Access pipeline.
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 2,192 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,160 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Men Loving Men
Bianca Vivion · 2,103 views today · When my father was seven he and his best friend Phil cut their index fingers open and placed them together to create a “blood pact” that they would always be brothers. To this...
Social Geographer Shows How Much of You is Determined by Where You're From
3 min · 1,754 views today · The Professor of Geography examines social inequality and the geodemographics of the UK, using maps created by Oliver O'Brien (UCL, CASA) in 2012 and updated in 2015. You can...
A Beautiful Reflection on What It Means to Be Human
8 min · 1,498 views today · Hello! We are Oh Wonder, a musical duo from London. We believe that everyone is equal. We are all human. We all deserve the world. And we can build that equality by sharing...
Heartbreaking Animation Reveals Plight of Animals Under Threat of Extinction
3 min · 1,479 views today · This stunning and heartbreaking animation gives voice to animals under threat from human activity. Made as part of the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, it features a...
Writers Tom Hayden and Naomi Klein Talk About Journalism and Activism
27 min · 1,344 views today · Author, Activist and Former California State Senator Tom Hayden talks in depth with the author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein, about the state of the fourth...
Speaking Out Against Australia's Unforgiving Refugee Policy
42 min · 1,286 views today · The Forgotten Children: More than a hundred child refugees are stuck in asylum limbo on the island of Nauru as a result of Australia's harsh and unsympathetic border policies...
How Big Banks Launder Money and Get Away With It
9 min · 1,056 views today · 'I wrote about how money laundering was actually done... they spiked it.' Parliamentary Candidate David Malone was a popular second choice in the UK Green Party leadership...
Grow Heathrow: Residents Resisting Eviction Over 3rd Runway
4 min · 1,009 views today · On March 1st 2010 Transition Heathrow members swooped on an abandoned market garden site in Sipson; one of the villages to be completely tarmacked to make way for a third...
Why I Didn't Vote Trump or Hillary
Joe Brewer · 871 views today ·   This is my ballot. It arrived in the mail where I live in Washington state — and I’ve already sent it back to the elections committee. Note how I didn’t vote for either...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 758 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 607 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Biosphere Collapse: The Biggest Economic Bubble Ever