Normal is what we’re used to, or the life that we see others experiencing which we strive to achieve. In either case, Normal is based on our personal experience and therefore on our memory. This cannot exceed our lifespan minus our years of infancy and dementia, say an average of 75 years.
Measured on a 12 hour clock, that 75 years is only the last 60 microseconds of the earth’s existence or the last 77 microseconds of life on earth. All right, a more fair comparison might be the last second of the clock of Homo sapiens existence. Still not a realistic comparison? If we compare our personal memory of “Normal” to all recorded history those 75 years are still only the last 39 seconds or 0.09% of recorded history. In other words, our memory of “Normal” is the same as a 75 year old remembering a little less than their last 10 months of life and considering it “Normal”. We would likely call that a form of dementia.
Looking at this longer range view, we can begin to imagine our place in history. We’ve figured out that aerobic (oxygen loving) bacteria were responsible for generating the oxygen we breath and in the act, caused the major die off of the former dominant life, anerobic (oxygen hating) bacteria. Exxon commercials taught us that dinosaurs, or more accurately, their lush forests, resulted in the deposits of crude oil that have fueled our development over the last 100 years. What legacy will humans be remembered for in 100,000 years, and by whom? The species which eliminated mammal diversity, refined and distributed elements and depleted all hydrocarbon reservoirs?
Contrary to popular movie themes, major change does not happen catastrophically, overnight or even over a century. A look at current conditions in much of the Middle East and Africa confirms that “modernity” has yet to reach much of our planet. While nuclear contamination or a pandemic or even a meteor strike could stress humanity, it seem far more likely that major world change we will come from gradually exhaust our resources due to overpopulation. When we have reached the point that our resources cannot support additional population, we will all use our stockpile of resources, food, fuel and weapons to protect our diminishing hoards until we find a New Normal. Without the fuel to maintain a large underclass population willing to deliver their resources to the privileged in exchange for a fraction of their value, our present lifestyle will deteriorate. As it happens on a global scale, the same fight for dwindling goods will occur within each level of privileged sectors. Life style will remain high for fewer and fewer people, leading to battles over who will control and consume the remaining resources. As the remaining privileged groups shrink, their ability to control resources will also diminish until a truly sustainable level of consumption is reached. The ability of the privileged to maintain if not advance their technology infrastructure, will determine how long and how far the quality of life will deteriorate.
This is not a plea for the privileged class to consume less and be more “organic”. Our short history has shown that as a species we are not capable of restraining ourselves, even if small bands of us “see the light” and are willing to restrict our consumption. The past 20 years of history has demonstrated that even in this, our “most enlightened” age, our technology far outreaches our ability to control our use of it. Population reduction and control seems the only answer to reaching a sustainable level at which consumption matches the earth’s renewable resources.
“Saving the Planet” has become a widespread subject. Since “The Planet” is in no danger, our focus is more accurately an attempt to save our privileged lifestyle. There are two things which we can depend on: The world will not end, and what we now consider Normal will deteriorate.