‘Naturally Biodiverse Clusters’ are as much a social construct as any other culturally relative concept. They depend on the cultural history that has developed and allowed the flourishing of the scientific method, and ultimately, of the understandings of evolutionary biology. By recognising that we are reliant on the living energy systems beyond human culture for our own survival, we come to the realisation that it has been through suppression of the drives to excessive use and mindless self-satisfaction that we have come to have a culture, and therefore, in this sense, to cultivate, both ourselves and the naturally biodiverse clusters that are our source of identity.
“Sublimation of instinct is an especially conspicuous feature of cultural development; it is what makes it possible for higher psychical activities, scientific, artistic, or ideological, to play such an important part in civilized life,” wrote Freud. “If one were to yield to a first impression, one would say that sublimation is a vicissitude which has been forced upon the instincts entirely by civilization. But it would be wiser to reflect upon this a little longer. In the third place, finally, and this seems the most important of all, it is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built up upon a renunciation of instinct, how much it presupposes precisely the non-satisfaction (by suppression, repression, or some other means?) of powerful instincts.”
The age of extravagance is, in this sense, over. ‘No!’ shout the NaySayers: we will go on adapting the physical world to our needs indefinitely. We have been to the Moon. We may be able to live in a space station, or on another planet. The Universe has more than enough physical material for our need into the most far imagined future.
But this attitude of continuing exploitation fails to take into account that we are, beneath the primate surface, NBCs. Perceiving the environment as a resource to be exploited, whether that environment be the planet, or some larger context, we lose sight of the interdependence of our identity with other species and with relationships to other, living and non-living, aspects of existence.
While it may be possible that some small percentage of the species could generate enough of an artificial environment to continue to exist elsewhere, the issue stands out starkly: at what cost to the cultural development of the species? By the very same token that we are reliant for our flourishing on an acknowledgement of the interdependencies we are enmeshed within.
It is an illusion that exploitation has allowed us all to flourish and succeed. There is evidence to show that exploitation only ever helped a few and, proportionately, a smaller few as time went on, not that it is the answer to the kinds of questions that the current emergency raises. While Garrett Hardin reaches the opposite conclusion through a dualistic approach, if we can accept the findings that modern evolutionary biology, we must also realise how inadequate attempts to restrict the sphere of consideration are going to be (not to mention the findings of Elinor Ostrom that directly contradict, using empirical data, the theoretical assumptions made by Hardin).