I heard the following tale many years ago. It reminded me of Tales from 1001 Arabian Nights, and was obviously meant to have a moral to it. However, I was puzzled as to what it might be, and eventually forgot about it. It wasn't until becoming properly aware of how we are plundering our planet that I remembered it again and was struck by how well and frighteningly it symbolised our situation aboard Spaceship Earth.
The relatively recent development of science and technology has made it possible for us to produce undreamed of material wealth (the rain of gold in the tale), but in so doing we are placing an ever increasing, and thus non-sustainable, drain and strain on Earth’s finite resources and carrying capacity, decimating its biodiversity and disrupting its climate and life-supporting ecosystems.
Although most people now acknowledge the need for sustainability, very few understand, or are willing to face up to, what achieving it (for 7 - 9 billion people on a finite planet) will entail. The magnitude and urgency of the task has not been recognised, nor the underlying forces which oppose it: a growth-dependent economy rooted in man's "more animal than human" nature, which depends on, encourages and exploits our primitive, fears, greed and competitiveness, along with our need for social status (and security) and an insatiable desire for material wealth (the rain of gold which the man in the tale cannot stop, even when he realises that it is threatening to suffocate him).
The pile of gold is already up to our waist; we can barely move, and many people are beginning to sense the terrible danger we are in.
How long can the demands and strains we are placing on our planet continue to grow?
Until its natural resources are so depleted and its climate and life-supporting ecosystems so disrupted that further growth becomes impossible.
Economic and social decline on a global and catastrophic scale will follow.
THE END ?
It will be, unless we come out of denial and face up to the problem and the radical changes its solution requires being made to the values, attitudes and aspirations upon which our economy and lifestyles are based.