Are we, in any way built to survive in this world? I would be tempted to state unequivocally that our ability to control our environment in ways unimaginable to our great-great-great grandfathers would be proof of a positive supposition in this respect, but I suspect I would be wrong in thinking as much.
Our ability to survive in the environment we’ve created for ourselves is reliant upon factors that if ever put out of balance would ultimately be devastating to populations and cultures.
Consider: greater than 50% of the world’s population is concentrated in urban centers. It takes a great deal of organization and planning to house, feed, protect, and maintain such populations; these urban environments are reliant upon just-in-time deliveries of food, utilities, and the organization of police forces to help maintain order.
What if some disaster put the delivery of food out of balance? Being an urban environment, it would be exceedingly difficult for residents to compensate for such food losses with their own provisions through gardening, hunting, or gathering. Residents are reliant upon the type of farming that is most devastating to land: large corporate farms.
Not that this sort of activity is bad. On the contrary it has allowed the world to be fed and fed cheaply, and is certainly a contributing factor in the explosion of population we’ve experienced in the past century; however, this land will not be arable forever and we cannot expect the sort of abundance we’ve grown accustomed to in our supermarkets to last.
If utilities are severely disrupted, we run into similar problems with food, yet in this case perhaps the lack of availability of clean and easily used water is more devastating.
The point is: as a whole our reliance upon the conveniences of modern life have built a situation that could lead to extremely undesirable consequences if any one part of it were to go out balance.
I’m just as vulnerable as anyone else in this. I’m not prepared to grow my own food, identify what sorts of things are safe to eat, build impromptu or semi permanent shelters, and live in a way that should come naturally to us as human beings. The loss of life would be great if the situation were extended to a large swath of the population, i.e. many major urban centers.
I love modern life, but what cost does it have 100 or more years from now?