"How rich will we be when we have converted all our forests, all our soil, all our water resources, and our minerals into cash?" Jay Norwood (Ding) Darling, American cartoonist/conservationist (1876-1962)
In reality economic growth cannot alleviate poverty, on the contrary it actively causes poverty. This fact relates to the scientific discipline of economics, which includes only quantities in its calculations. Hence, what cannot be counted is excluded from economics. Since one cannot quantify the quality of life for society and nature, these are considered as having no economic value! Methodologically this is handled by creating a box called "externalities," in which society and nature are placed, and thus effectively side-lined. Now economic activity can conveniently exclude concern for both and gain economic profit from dominating society and exploiting nature. Consequently, current economic activities are built on abuse: some individuals become richer, while society and nature and its inhabitants become poorer.
Such an economic system has serious consequences: when profit is made by exploiting natural resources, when land, air, and water are used as dumping places for industrial waste and toxic material, then nature deteriorates. Thus, economic activities have created the crisis of environmental destruction.
For millions of people in the South, degraded environments and decreased availability of natural resources mean deprivation. Natural resources sustain the livelihoods of subsistence, tribal, traditional, and indigenous peoples. Yet, when their farmland is grabbed for growing of cash crops and exhausted from use of agricultural chemicals, when their natural forests are cut down for timber and changed into mono-culture plantations, when their water is dammed and redirected towards irrigation and hydro-power, then indigenous people suffer the consequences of dispossession, hunger, and poverty. In addition, when an appropriate share of economic profit-making is not justly re-distributed to society in the form of adequate jobs, salaries, credit, housing, health services, and education, then people suffer numerous consequences including increased poverty, crime, violence, stress, and ill-health. Hence, economic activities have created the crisis of poverty and inequality.
When society is dominated and nature is exploited, people become poor and natural resources become scarce; this intensifies competition. It leads to anger towards the exploiters, manifesting as resistance, protests, and demonstrations. Under such circumstances, the state often uses its well-equipped police force and military power against its own people, resulting in violence and repression. Thus, economic activities have created the crisis of human rights abuses.
Since violence begets violence, confrontations over scarcity and domination may at times evolve into armed conflicts and war. Hence, economic activities have created the crisis of violence and war.
Consequently, a flawed and exploitative economic system is the major reason for our global crises of war and violence, poverty and inequality, environmental destruction, and human rights abuses.
"The first law of ecology is that everything is related to everything else." Barry Commoner, American biologist, environmentalist, professor
From the above summary it also becomes clear that our global crises are interlinked and that each crisis reinforces the others: war usually gives the effect of poverty, environmental damage, and human rights abuses. Poverty often results in environmental damage and can lead to violence, revolts, and repression. Destruction of nature causes poverty, social upheaval, conflicts, and repression. All the crises are in themselves human rights violations, and human repression only increases the other crises further. The four crises, therefore, function in a web-like fashion: whether a crisis manifests as poverty, environmental degradation, war and violence, or human rights abuses does not matter, the underlying dynamics of all crises are the same. Each crisis is merely a symptom rooted in a larger systemic crisis: a crisis of perception.
The crisis of perception derives from the fact that our world subscribes to an outdated, reductionist worldview. Modern science, its disciplines, its technology, government structures, financial institutions, development agencies, and academic institutions are all using a fragmented methodology, which has proven to be inadequate in dealing with a systemically interconnected and whole world. Thus, many scientifically educated people cannot understand and resolve systemic crises. Most leaders also fail to see that problems are interlinked. They therefore cannot recognize that their perpetual and preferred economic solutions only deal with one part of a whole reality, and as a consequence, economic profit-making has disastrous effects elsewhere in the system. The aim of politicians and economists is to maximize economic growth, but they cannot understand that due to systemic interconnections this one-sided, reductionist focus negatively affects society and nature.
The perceptual crisis relates to the foundation in Modernism. Its "founding fathers" based their modernization philosophy on some false beliefs about reality. They assumed that progress is a linear process where improved science will promote improved technology, which will lead to improved social organization, and increased material well-being. This "progress" is perceived as a positive and eternal activity determined by modern science. However, the modernization view is too simple. Progress cannot continue forever since the means, our natural resources, are finite. We do not have an unlimited source of energy, water, and minerals, available for eternal modern progress. Instead we are, in the name of progress, depleting our environments and destroying Planet Earth. Eventually the progress of modernization will terminate human existence.
The four core articles in this website explain in detail the perceptual crisis and how it is having a host of negative social and environmental effects. The first article presents the global crises, explains their cause: a crisis of perception. It also introduces the yin yang philosophy. The second article explains the values of modern science, and shows how its knowledge excludes the experience and wisdom of women and traditional peoples. The third article demonstrates why economic development cannot alleviate poverty, but conversely is causing it. The fourth article discusses the inappropriateness of modern technology, and how it cannot fulfill the needs of society and nature but conversely becomes invasive and destructive to both.
All articles end with suggesting possible solutions to the problems. Most examples in the articles relate to the crises in the South, the societies and nature of which are hardest hit; yet the discussion is holistic and applies globally. Using an ecofeminist perspective – a holistic viewpoint that is perceiving reality from the side of society and nature – the articles argue that the current tragic and unsustainable state of affairs is the result of patriarchal domination, which is briefly explained in the following page.