A system which functions solely in the quest for unending growth to produce greater material wealth - for a fortunate few - in the shortest possible time, is not designed to allow for any questions of morality. That has been 'designated out.' Our core values placed wealth and comfort above all else."
These are the opening paragraphs of chapter seven of Dr. Michael P. Byron's book examining the state of human society titled Infinity's Rainbow.
The foundation of our society, as Dr. Byron points out, is an amoral one based on greed, and understanding this is fundamental to understanding what drives our politics and what has been the root cause of the social and environmental problems that are threatening to overwhelm us. What makes these values particularly destructive is that the premise of limitless wealth is false. Those who accumulate vast amounts of wealth, rather than heroes, are the worst villains of society since their wealth comes not from some cornucopia, but from others who may need it to survive.
Given the state of the world today one can argue that human society is not fit enough to survive, at least not in the form in which we have built it. The belief in endless growth fuelled by endless wealth has put us on a dead-end path, and our predominate value system, which esteems accumulation, hastens our journey to the end of that path.
We are living on borrowed time. We have been squandering our wealth, using up vast amounts of energy thinking that there will always be more, but what hasn't been sufficiently considered is that the bulk of our energy is coming from fossil fuels, energy resources that have taken tens of millions of years to accumulate. These fuels are being exhausted rapidly, and much to the detriment of our environment, both by the direct effect of pollution from burning them, and the indirect damage from the ability they give us to over exploit other resources including food production. As a whole human society is progressively getting poorer.
We have no choice if we wish to solve the problems that now face us, other than to abandon the idea of growth and reduce our demands on the environment until we reach a point that can be sustainably maintained. It is a choice that will require major adjustments in lifestyle for many, and a power shift away from those who place a high value on the personal accumulation of wealth.