Selected excerpts from A Short History of Progress (BTW, This is another Massey Lecture Series book.):
Farming achieved quantity at the expense of quality: more food and more people, but seldom better nourishment or better lives. [p.47]
In her recent dystopia, Oryx and Crake, which concentrates on biotechnology, Margaret Atwood also portrays the collapse of civilization in the near future. One of her characters asks, "As a species we're doomed by hope, then?" By hope? Well, yes. Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes, which in turn create ever more dangerous messes. [p.123]
John Steinbeck once said that socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. [p.124]
The case for reform that I have tried to make is not based on altruism, nor on saving nature for its own sake. I happen to believe that these are moral imperatives, but such arguments cut against the grain of human desire. The most compelling reason for reforming our system is that the system is in no one's interest. It is a suicide machine. [p.131]
We are now at the stage when the Easter Islanders could still have halted the senseless cutting and carving, could have gathered the last trees' seeds to plant out of reach of the rats. We have the tools and the means to share resources, clean up pollution, dispense basic health care and birth control, set economic limits in line with natural ones. If we don't do these things now, while we prosper, we will never be able to do them when times get hard. Our fate will twist out of our hands. And this new century will not grow very old before we enter an age of chaos and collapse that will dwarf all the dark ages in our past.
Now is our last chance to get the future right. [p.132]
For my version of how we need to restructure education, food, shelter, and banking, please see Strategic Integral.