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Conservation had never been valued as a personal virtue or pursued as a national goal and we were paying dearly for this lack of altruism. As people became more affluent, the material and physical side of life became all encompassing and had become the paragon of the good life. And it was promoted, it was touted as success, it was sanctioned by society. The consumer lifestyle of the wealthier nations had finally forced its way into the rest of the world. Those that previously had exported freedom and democracy for the world’s benefit now export over-consuming and materialism to the world’s detriment.
For many decades, only the few developed nations had placed consumerism on such a high level. But, as several other countries and particularly the most populous ones had also achieved this economic and material success, the race for resources to retain that lifestyle became intense. With so many now wanting what only a small percentage of the world had been able to afford previously, the selfishness and the battle for possessions had become heated and had reached a kindling point.
And with those resources decreasing and with populations increasing, there was no formula and no amount of technology that could solve the problem now. An extreme and a desperate competition for life sources existed at almost every level of society and eventually had turned into armed conflict. The new wars were not fought over land or oil or ideologies, the new wars were fought over food and water. The wealthier, more powerful nations and governments had consolidated their grip on their own production and then went looking for easy takeover targets. And of course, having that overwhelming military superiority, it was no contest. But, after years of this, the spoils of war were not much more than that, spoiled, with lands that could not produce because of unpredictable drought or floods, with breakdowns in societies and infrastructure that had led to chaos and anarchy, with famine and disease and hopelessness. There wasn’t much left to win as everyone became a loser.
It was a shallowness to life that had led to this disaster, a simple equating of possessions held to one’s personal worth. The constant consuming and drive for material goods had everyone running a race that could never be won. Those with much had always sought to protect it and those with little had always sought to obtain it. But, the gap between these groups had now become a gulf, an abyss, and a canyon that became impossible to cross. With physical conditions deteriorating rapidly, there simply was not enough to go around anymore. Those with much had less each day and those with little now had nothing.