"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Screw Sustainability

Sustainability implies a worldview of a kindly and caring nature, a nature that’s easily raped by technology, industry, capitalism, and modernism. It implies a nature that will automatically protect rainforests, whales, and endangered species if we greedy modern humans rein in our consumerist lusts. If we get rid of our SUVs and of our industrial factories, this worldview tells us that nature will go back to the greenery and the reliability of some mythic good old days.

But that view of nature isn’t true. Nature is not the motherly protector. Nature is just the opposite. She tosses us curves and challenges our creativity. The challenge to create is what Mother Nature and her favorite game-evolution-are really all about. Which means we need a major worldview change.

Lesson number one is that the resources of this planet are almost endless. Bacteria are teaching us that there are new frontiers, new riches, and new feasts for those species that dare to defy nature and that dare to innovate.

Lesson number two is this. Nature does not shun megasocieties. She does not favor small tribes. She favors humongous social groups that network their information so well that they form a high-powered collective intelligence, a group brain. A bacterial colony the size of your palm is the norm in the microworld. And that small colony, that bacterial city, has roughly seven trillion citizens — more than all of the humans who have ever lived.

Bacterial lesson number three is one I’ve implied half a dozen times. It’s a very strange lesson to absorb. Nature rewards those who oppose her most. Let me repeat that: nature rewards those who oppose her most.


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