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TimeLine - Signs of the Times

The Consumption Spike
Materialism as 'Market Success' is in Reality the Driver behind Global Decline


This is the third of four "spikes" described by Mr. Ayers (see book reference below). The spikes are rapid increases in global changes (see illustration above). Here the focus relates to human behavior and our consumption of material resources. Some resources are renewable, but others are not. Once used, the non-renewable material is gone forever. This is certainly the case with oil and natural gas, but too we can include soil (agricultural land erosion) and species (by extinction) that are lost over time and cannot not be replaced. Human activity is now rabidly consuming so much of what the earth has to give.

The formation of our planet (environment and later ecosystems; and thereafter oil, gas, and mineral deposits we use today) took billions of years. The action of physical forces and the presence of life's activities over long perhistoric periods delivered the resources that we use in seconds today–compared to the millennia invested in resource creation. Humanity could not exist as it does today without the 'preparation' that preceded our existence. Yet, consumption at the today's pace threatens to short cut the life experience we now enjoy.

... We are practicing a kind of commerce that is drawing down of the Earth's finite resources–its topsoil, water tables, and genetic resources–far faster than natural processes can regenerate them. Glancing back at the extinction spike, for example, note that Harvard's E. O. Wilson has estimated that we are consuming genetic resources between 1,000 and 10,000 times as fast as evolution produces them. Ayers, God's Last Offer, page 34

Are we mindless and bent on consuming our resources to a state where the earth will no longer bear our existence? Good question! And it looks like that's happening right now!

... the basic activities of industrialized society are interlocked, everyone is a participant: the doctor and the stockbroker drive cars that consume huge amounts of fossil fuels and land; they eat burgers that require disproportionate amounts of grainland (one pound of beef takes as much grainland to produce as seven pounds of rice or wheat).

... Billion-dollar marketing campaigns, aimed at driving ever-greater material consumption, replace the woods and fields that once kept kids connected to their planet. In a Toys-R-Us world, we spend more and more to bring up kids who are less and less connected to what keeps them alive. Ayers, God's Last Offer, page 40

Perhaps we need only make a simple point here ... consumption is incredibly rapid compared to the long geologic time periods required to give us a planet that supports our behavior. But supplies are limited! Life on this planet stands to confront limitations that come with the broad array of global changes and thus for time ahead make for an incredibly complex scenario.

And consider the fourth spike, concerning population, the growing number of people on the planet helps to accelerate consumption. Many who are the 'have nots' want what those 'who have it all' have! Aspiring to obtain the the comforts of the Western way of life is not sustainable nor obtainable by the entire global population. So, how soon will it be before the nonrenewable resources are gone? What then?

The importance to global change is in looking at how social, biological, and physical sciences all reveal data and signs for more ominous changes in the near future. This is change in every aspect of human and earthly affairs ... globally. The Window looks further to see change as a backdrop to a biblical timeline. Driving forces for change force us to ask the most important questions about our true origin, who we are, why we are here, and what the Scriptures tell us about the future. Change forces us to look deeper to face choice or crisis. Life is an opportunity to look for the answers.

Please Note! We are presenting a number of quotations in the "Signs of the Times" series that are taken from their original context. So Be Aware ... the impact of these statements is only heightened and intensified by a reading of the original text cited below. WindowView serves to reflect many original sources and in this case we highly recommend a reading of the entire book used as a source here! The 'Signs' are woefully important to revealing humanity's future, reading these quotations in their original context makes this point all the more clear!

Quotations attributed to 'Ayers' are from: Ed Ayers. 1999. God's Last Offer - Negotiating for a Sustainable Future. Published by: Four Walls Eight Windows (

Mr. Ayers is the Editor of World Watch magazine, a product of the Worldwatch Institute, Washington D.C. The institute is a 'think tank' that often puts out publications that note change in the world theater from the perspectives of economics, policy, resource uses, and the potential for global trends based on past and current human activity. This is a secular institution and the title of Mr. Ayers' book makes no special reference to a particular theological framework.

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