Many things that are workable in small numbers – that is, on a small scale – are not workable in large numbers – that is, on a large scale.
Take, for example, the practice of using the world’s lakes and streams as sewers and dumping grounds. As long as the number of polluters remains relatively low, and the volume of uncompromised fresh water remains relatively high, there can be little danger of our fouling ourselves into extinction. There would always be local damage, of course – a polluted pond here, a fouled creek there – but no global or lasting damage.
Increase the scale, however, and everything changes. Regarding our example, increase the human population from a few hundred thousand, as was the case when our distant ancestors inhabited parts of Africa, to the 7.4 billion global dwellers of today. How much waste and effluvia can 7.4 billion people dump into the world’s lakes and streams before these essential sources of fresh water become permanently poisoned?
Question: Who’s in charge? Who’s setting local and global policy regarding such issues as pollution and despoliation? The women of the world?
Once upon a time, one person acting alone could do little lasting damage either to the natural world or to his/her local community. His/her capacity for destruction was limited by the scale of the means of destruction available to him. Compare a handmade spear or knife, for example, to an AR-15 assault rifle with high-capacity magazines. Indeed, we have entered an era in which one person, acting alone, can hack into a power grid and bring darkness and terror to millions of people. We have entered an era in which one person, acting alone, can storm a school, a movie theater, or a night club and slaughter scores of innocent people in seconds.
Question: Who’s in charge? Who’s setting local and global policy regarding such issues as the availability and possession of firearms? The women of the world?