This is the first in a three part series about the far reaching effects of human consumption.
Growing up, my parents were always reminding me that every action deserves an equal reaction. For the longest time, I felt that this was their own Alaskan version of the golden rule. Boy was I surprised when I got older, attended a few science classes, and found out that they were actually stealing their motto from the wide world of physics. Now grown up, I’m not a physicist, but I do still hold that advice as a way to view my actions in life. Every action that each of us takes has consequences. Every consequence is a reaction, of equal force. The reaction may not always manifest itself in expected fashion, in fact, reactions are frequently unpredictable.
Before I bore you by spending more time waxing nostalgic about my childhood, I’ll get to the point. Human beings consume. We consume virtually everything that we possibly can. To narrow the scope, let’s talk about Americans specifically. Due to the culture that we’ve built, Americans consume products at a rate that has been previously unheard of. When it comes to food, resources, technology, textiles, and virtually anything new, we seem to be unable to ever get enough. There are of course outliers and exceptions to this statement, but as a whole, it’s what we do. The case could even be made that it has become our national identity. We are trendsetters, builders, and devourers.
We could debate the morality of this all day long, but that is not what we are here for. Quite simply, all of this devouring consumption has to be supplied from somewhere. Our consumption has far reaching effects. It affects other humans, political systems, and parts of civilization, it affects the animals that we use for both food and product, and it affects our future on this planet. This is something that as Americans we either choose to ignore, or just prefer to remain in blissful ignorance about. When we offer a lip service of concern for these animals, societies, and environments, it is almost always a momentary thought. Something that passes as quickly as our food fads, or our ability to remember how to drive in inclement weather. When it happens, we’re interested in learning for a moment, we seem to figure it all out, and then faster than a blink, our awareness and desire for action has disappeared.