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Thursday, June 19, 2008

LIFE’S ENDURING QUESTIONS: EXPLANATIONS ON OUR (NOT) THINKING ON DEVELOPMENT

Why are we not thinking?

Pride and prejudice could automatically make us evade this question and automatically dismiss it as N/A [a] because we might think that we are really thinking all the time. But sometimes we are in a mode of “suspended animation”[b] . There are periods in our so called development process that evidently shows that we are not thinking.

One of life’s realities is that we treat the obvious as practical and forget about the not obvious and dismiss it as not important. Whatever happened to the saying “the best things in life are free”. We have neglected the intangible things that make us human after all.

An ecological principle states that ”nature knows best”[c] but we sometimes are too proud to keep on thinking that we humans are in control. We have modified the natural processes of the environment in order to gain a meager amount of profit for our purses. If there would only be a High Court for the Natural Law, then we should have taken the capital punishment a long time ago.

What I mean here is that we really have neglected how nature has served us for free while we think only of the monetary value it has offered. We think only of the forest as timber, medicine or ornamental plants. We think only of how much we could earn if we cut a hectare of forest not how much we would lose without a hectare of forest. We think only of the obvious. How much is an air conditioning unit nowadays? Say PHP10,000.00, with at least a monthly electric bill of PHP500.00 we could actually be provided with cool fresh air in our homes for a month. However, a single tree in a forest could actually provide you with the same or even higher quality of pure fresh air the whole year round. But if we sell that tree as timber, how much does it cost in the market? Probably around 5,000 to 6,000 pesos. Now, is that a profitable deal?

Constanza et. al[d] provided us with a conservative estimate of US$16-54 trillion (10^12) per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year worth of services that nature provides globally (air purification, fresh water provision, pollination, nutrient cycling etc.) And all of these are for free. Compare that with that year’s global gross national product of US$18 trillion per year, and you’ll realize that how much we could lose in trying to think of the obvious. I bet nature should start charging fees for its services.

We are not thinking during times of abundance

Reality sometimes really hurts. On a personal level, this happens regularly. This could maybe be attributed to the natural order of things, from order to disorder or from abundance to having less. It’s much harder to revolutionize it the other way around (disorder to order or from less to abundance). However, we could at least minimize the loss just by thinking.
A home with a monthly income of say PHP 15,000.00 per month should never have expenses that exceed that amount or else you’ll end up borrowing from next month’s budget. This is actually what’s happening to majority of families in the Philippines nowadays (you can count me in). The outcome is larger than the income.

On an ecological scale, nature has provided us with what we need for our lifetime, thus signifying the presence of abundance. Well, we were not thinking actually because little by little we now have less. God during the creation may have told us that these resources are ours to consume, but he never failed to mention that we should also sustain it[e].

Studies have shown that the resources we are using now are resources for next years consumption[f]. This fact evidently means that we are borrowing from the future. What will we be using next year? Ok, then no problem why don’t we use the resources for next next year and the year after that or how about for the next decade. The question is how would we be able to repay what we have borrowed from the future generation?

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[a] Not Applicable. A common answer to filling forms if a question does not apply to the person concerned.
[b] n.1. temporary suspension of the vital functions (as in persons nearly drowned) (from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suspended%20animation) rhetorically referring to a person temporarily unaware of the real world for a certain point in time.
[c] From “7 Environmental Principles” (PEMSEA Website). http://www.pemsea.org/easy-hub/young-environmentalists-10
[d] “The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital” (1997).
[e] …I am putting you in charge of the fishes, the birds, and all the wild animals (Genesis 1:29)
[f] “Raising our Environmental I.Q.” (Podcast from www.nyas.org/snc/podcasts.asp)

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