All the Good Things
As a species, humans are not very good at being aware of the fragility of Good Things. This probably has something to do with the fact that we hold truths such as 'the sun set yesterday, it surely will set tomorrow'. We tend to take things for granted.
What is hard to assess is the amount of impact we have as individuals on our environment and circumstance.
Having just read Douglas Adam's 'Last Chance to See', he finished with this tale about an ancient city. It starts off with the inhabitants of this city living in abundance, and this old woman shows up with twelve large books that contain all the knowledge and wisdom in the world. She tries to sell these books for a single sack of gold. As the city folk reject her ridiculous offer, she burns half the books in front of them. She returns again and again as the city declines in prosperity, making the same offer and burning half of the books each time as she is rejected. Eventually the people beg her for the last book in exchange for 16 sacks of gold. The last sentence is:
She led the two ox carts away across the plain with her, and left the people of the city to survive as best they could with one remaining twelfth of all the knowledge and wisdom that had been in the world.
This sentiment applies to many things. In that particular context, it eluded to the blatant destruction of environments and animals by humans with the realisation of the dire situation arriving much too late.
One other way to look at it is in terms of culture. This happens at a macro, more devastating level with the lost tribes of the world, but also on a minute, micro level, with the culture of a workplace.
I wonder, if generally people behaved in a way in which they were constantly aware that the things they enjoy were non-permanent and had to be consciously preserved, they would choose the same actions, or lack of action.