Image via WikipediaA huge problem -- perhaps THE problem of our time -- is that humans are continuing to use carelessly a powerful technology (capitalism) that we developed in an essentially empty world of abundant natural resources. We are continuing to use empty-world logic long past the time when the world could be described as empty or resources could be described as abundant.
One of the first cases a law student encounters is the case of Ghen v. Rich, which is used to illustrate concepts of ownership under the common law -- in that case, of a finback whale carcass. The basis for the decision was the court's concern to find a rule that would promote whaling: "Unless it is sustained . . . industry must necessarily cease, for no person would engage in it if the fruits of his labor could be appropriated by a chance finder."
This 1881 case perfectly illustrates the trend that has continued ever since, and at a global scale: the purpose of the law is to facilitate conversion of natural resources, the uncountable wealth of nature that makes human life and civilization possible, into countable wealth in someone's pocket.
Humanity is like an alpine climber suspended over a deep chasm by a hugely thick manila rope -- only we are ceaselessly cutting the tiny threads that make up the rope, one after another after another, year after year, decade after decade. So far the rope hasn't parted and we haven't fallen -- so we keep plucking at the threads, snipping them off one by one wherever it's profitable to do so.