Back to nature

Almost the reverse of this attitude is the suggestion that we all adopt a much more primitive lifestyle and give up a large part of industry and intensive farming - that we effectively put the clock back two or three hundred years to before the Industrial Revolution. That sounds very seductive and some individuals can clearly begin to live that way. But there are two main problems.

The first is that it is just not practical. The world population is now some six times what it was 200 years ago and about three times that of 50 years ago. The world cannot be adequately fed without farming on a reasonably intensive scale and without modern methods of food distribution. Further, most people that have them would not be prepared to be without the technical aids - electricity, central heating, refrigerator, washing machine, television and so on -that give the freedom, the interest and the entertainment that is so much taken for granted. Moreover, increasing numbers of people in the developing world are also taking advantage of and enjoy these aids to a life of less drudgery and more freedom.

The second problem is that it fails to take account of human creativity. Human scientific and technical development cannot be frozen at a given point in history, insisting that no further ideas can be developed. A proper balance between humans and the environment must leave room for humans to exercise their creative skills.

Again, therefore, a 'back to nature' viewpoint is neither balanced nor sustainable.

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