Machu Picchu Documentary – A Lesson in Sustainability

Like other wonders of the world, Machu Picchu was only briefly inhabited. Why? What happened, and what lessons can we learn about the sustainability of today’s civilisations? Watch this video to find out what this amazing ancient landmark, along with the wisdom of the ancients, can tell us about life on earth today and in the future.

Presented, Researched, Written, Directed & Produced by: Daniel Livingston, PhD

Sources: see end credits.

But isn’t the planet too big and timeframes too long for us to make an impact?

Many religious people argue in one way or another that God is too powerful, the Earth is too big, and timescales are too long, for tiny us to make any significant impact on global resources, the environment, climate or temperature.

Let’s examine this, first from the Bible, then from empirical evidence and reality.

The Bible says that God “will destroy those who destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11:18)

According to the Bible, individuals will be held individually accountable for having a destructive impact on the earth. Individuals, then, can have a significantly destructive impact in their lifetimes, let alone all of humanity combined over the timescale of multiple generations!

Now let’s see if that squares with the empirical evidence of observed reality.

Let’s put aside slowly accumulating and relatively imperceptible environmental impacts, for a moment, and look at the drastic impacts of nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima was wiped out with a 15 kiloton nuclear warhead in World War II. The US alone currently has over 5,000 nuclear warheads, ranging in size from the Hiroshima bomb to thousands of times bigger. Extrapolating for countries with unknown nuclear capability, simple maths suggests there currently exists more than enough destructive power to completely destroy humanity multiple times over.

If such destructive impact is possible using available nuclear energy, it is irrational to think that there could be a biblical, philosophical or ideological reason why similar destruction isn’t possible with conventional forms of energy. Of course there could be a scientific reason, however.

So let’s go to science to answer that question. The best available science says that human caused CO2 emissions are causing global warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and a range of other related adverse impacts.

NASA climate scientist and head of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, James Hansen, says that the current energy imbalance caused by human greenhouse gas emissions is 0.6 watts/square meter. This does not include the energy already used to cause the current warming of 0.8°C. This energy imbalance sounds small, but the total imbalance across the whole earth is equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs every day!

I believe that God will intervene before humanity succeeds in destroying the planet and ourselves. So my outlook is not one of alarmism, but actually optimism. My optimism, however, is not placed in some inherent capacity of nature to always come up trumps against the onslaught of human activities, or in human ingenuity to always result in progress and improvement. (The Bible indicates the opposite.) My optimism is in God’s ultimate power and plan to recycle the earth.

The Prodigal Planet Parable

by Daniel Livingston (Luke 15:11-24 modified)

  1. Then He said: a certain Creator made humans and put them on planet earth.
  2. And the humans said: “Give us the treasures and wealth of the earth.” So He gave to them a fair country across the ocean.
  3. And not too many years after, the humans had gathered all together, and journeyed to a far country, and there wasted all the beauties of the earth with prodigal living.
  4. But when they had run out of fossil fuels, there arose severe price wars over oil, and they began to be in want.
  5. Then they went and conspired with foreign militaries causing wars and invasions, and they stole of the wealth of foreign nations.
  6. And they gladly filled their stomachs with McDonald’s burgers that had been produced on slave labour and at great environmental cost.
  7. But when they came to themselves, they said ‘How many of our fathers had bread enough to eat and to spare, and we perish with mad cow disease, terrorism and Asian bird flu?’
  8. I will arise and go to my Creator and will say to him, “God, I have destroyed the earth and humanity, and offended You.
  9. “and I am no longer worthy to be called a human or live on planet earth. Make me like one of the lower species.”
  10. And he arose and came to his God. But when he was still a great way off, God saw him and had compassion, and ran back to planet earth and fell on his neck and kissed him.
  11. And the human said to him “God I have destroyed the earth and humanity and offended You, and am no longer worthy to be called a human or live on planet earth.”
  12. But God said to his angels “Bring the best robe from heaven, and put it on him. Give him all the riches of the heavenly city, combined with a new planet.
  13. “And bring more wealth, luxury and beauty than he could ever have imagined possible, and let us have a great celebration and reunion.
  14. “For this, my human race, was destroying itself, but has now stopped looking for meaning in material wealth, and has come back to Me for life.” And for the first time in his life, the human was truly happy.