Kirsten O'Brien/The AS Review
These days, it’s easy being “green.”
So easy that you can drive a fuel-efficient Toyota Prius to the nearest Trader Joe’s and purchase organic foods, environmentally-friendly cleaning products or energy-efficient light bulbs. When you’re done shopping, you can put all of your newly-purchased products in a reusable tote bag. Then when you arrive home, you can cook a meal using an energy-efficient microwave, stove or oven.
While all of these actions may make a consumer feel they are doing something good for the environment, the Associated Students club Against Civilization poses an important question: How effective are these lifestyle choices in solving the massive environmental and social issues faced by modern societies?
Their answer: not much, if even at all.
Against Civilization tackles a myriad of social, environmental and political issues at its meetings every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Bond Hall 104. Dillon Thomson, the club’s founder, said the group provides a safe space for discussion, with focus on the effects of industrialization on the planet and its inhabitants.
While members of the club may have differing opinions, Thomson said that most agree on how to define a civilization and how its inherent nature makes it unsustainable.
Thomson defines a city as a large density of people living in a single area. They have depleted the resources in their immediate surroundings, and as a result, they have to import what they need to live. Thomson said this causes cities to continually expand, depleting more and more resources. He thinks that this makes civilization inherently violent. In order to compete for limited natural resources, societies must be somewhat militant, he added.
“You can have a city full of the most peaceful people, but the society will still have to be militant to fight for what it needs,” he said.
He said that the globalization and industrialization of modern societies have negatively affected cultures and ecosystems worldwide, and although it seems that this is the only way for societies to function today, humans were able to peacefully coexist within their environment for thousands of years.
Thomson thinks an ideal society would be one that functions harmoniously within its surrounding ecosystem and works to maintain a thriving local economy.
“Humans have found their niche on this planet for 99 percent of their tenure on Earth, and the way we live now is just a blip on the timeline of human history,” he said. “I don’t envision a globalized society. I don’t think it’s possible for us to live any other way other than locally.”
While the idea of living locally and fostering small-scale economies is a central idea of the club, they encourage discussion on a number of topics. Senior Makena Henriksen, who has been attending meetings for over a year, said that she is particularly interested in soil erosion, food, medicine and oceanic health. She said the club provides a place to talk about the topics that are important to her.
“Many of these subjects can be heavy or depressing, but every time I leave, I actually feel lighter,” she said. “This kind of safe space is necessary. We may discuss controversial topics, but it’s not the kind of place where someone would feel attacked or hurt because of their views.”
She said that those with dissenting views are welcome and encouraged to share their thoughts.
“We’ve had some of the more interesting and in-depth and complicated conversations because people bring up contrary viewpoints,” she said. “I sometimes worry that someone may feel ganged up on if they come in with a drastically different viewpoint, but the bottom line is respectful discussion. I welcome it. It makes things more interesting.”