In decrying the treatment of indigenous people by Western colonizers, John Bodley (2008) draws a distinction between indigenous society, which he writes has existed for 500,000 years in stable, sustainable societies with low population density, and commercial society, which has existed for about 6,000 years, is unsustainable, perpetuates itself only through high population growth and by encroaching surrounding territory (now nearly the entire land surface of the planet) which is often already occupied by indigenous peoples, who must be assimilated, displaced, or destroyed in the name of progress. He thus raises a conundrum that is not his focus but which is nonetheless crucial: Given that we have only these two models of society, and given that our population, now approximately 7 billion people, is too high to disperse to indigenous-level density, how can we create a third model—a high-density, high population, yet sustainable society?
Month: September 2011
If only they were so harmless
I guess I am still recovering from the Saybrook Residential Orientation and Conference, for which I got up at 5:00 am every morning, for a week, to drive down to the Westin Hotel by the San Francisco Airport. As I was tossing and turning, I was remembering my experience of, now, a few decades ago living on the edge of the Tenderloin in San Francisco in the Ansonia Hotel.