Destruction has been explained by some as necessary, to make possible new creations. If old trees never died and fell, or got consumed by forest fire, then new trees and plants could not grow. I see this explanation as connected to the human resistance to change. This connection occurred to me while reading Guns, Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond, where he discusses how a society that is heavily invested in a particular technology becomes vulnerable when that technology becomes obsolete. People don’t want to change to the new, because they see doing so as losing something they have put a lot of effort, time and money into. When this happens, societies that had previously been at a technological disadvantage become poised to surpass the other society because they have a much easier time adopting the new, superior, technology; they have nothing to lose by doing so. This has happened over, and over, again. There is no possible reason to think it will not continue to happen.
It seems that creation is limited by the ability to adapt, grow, and change. Without the ability to do these things, the only way that creation can progress is to destroy the things that cannot change (and progress, it will – that is the one thing of which there is no doubt). The problem I have with that is that generally, the destruction is indiscriminate, wiping away the good with the bad, and causing great suffering and death. Deliberate change could avoid that. But to replace a long-established system of any kind, such as our gasoline-powered cars with our gas stations conveniently located on almost every corner, we need to accept that any new system will be temporarily less convenient than the one to which we are accustomed. And people are just inherently bad at delayed gratification, apparently. So we become like the frog sitting in slowly heated water that evenutally boils and kills it. When we persist in living an unsustainable lifestyle, by definition of “unsustainable”, that lifestyle must sooner or later stop; it cannot be sustained. When will we all learn to choose short term inconvenience over long term destruction?
The following was added on July 2, 2009:
The article Green Power Takes Root in the Chinese Desert in today’s NYT offers some comparisons on what the US and China are each doing toward moving to wind and solar power. According to this, China faces a number of problems in doing so, but still could be poised to leapfrog the US as I described above.