Footprint Versus Freedom

I would like to think that humankind moves toward ever increasing freedom. However, as the human footprint increases, as the collective behaviors of the world's inhabitants "increase-demands" on limited resources, the movement is toward decreasing freedom.

Consider a traffic intersection that gets congested and causes injuries. Society puts up a traffic signal. While the signal makes the intersection safe, each individual must give up his right to speed through at will. The safety comes at the expense of freedom.

A little congestion, a little delay at a signal, may seem unimportant when one considers other benefits of modern life. However, the same behaviors that cause congestion also cause scarcity, conflict, and environmental destruction.

Terrorism, the latest incantation of conflict, is significantly reducing our personal freedoms. So it is important to understand what caused the increase in congestion at the intersection? What ca sues congestion? What changed the small number of farmers driving their horse drawn milk wagons to the dairy to a larger number of people driving fast cars.

This change was caused by normal, seemly benign, behaviors of having and providing for one's family. These acts, when collected across all individuals, caused the congestion, injurious conditions, the installation of the traffic signal, and the loss of freedom.

In this context existing peace accords, moral codes, acts of economic justice, and environmental laws, are like traffic signals. They cause people to relinquish freedoms. They do not stop (change) the behaviors that increase scarcity, conflict, and environmental destruction.

Until we escape the finite aspects of this planet, total human footprint growth will continue to cause a loss of personal freedoms. We will lose more of our unfettered liberties.

Are there family creating and supporting behaviors that increase abundance, peace and environmental quality? Yes, but they demand the sacrifice of a different personal freedom -- the freedom that permits family decisions to be chosen independent of the total human footprint and global carrying capacity.


Jack Alpert (Bio)     mail to:      (homepage)      position papers

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