When our pet poops on our hardwood floor we push its face in it and hit it upside the head and put it out where it is supposed to go. Then we reward it with treats when it deposits its waste properly. We modify its behavior.
Humans have been depositing their waste in the air, water and soil for thousands of years and are now being hit upside the head by God or Gaia. We have increased autism and asthma, cancer, lead and mercury poisoning, crazy weather and poisoned water. We are too many wanting too much without enough careful consideration of the consequences.
And we are not the only ones our wasteful habits are affecting. Bee colony collapse is linked to pesticides that threaten the bees as well as our food supply . Species extinction is happening at greater than 100 times the average historical extinction rates. We are seeing the effect on our environment by our economic system in a million ways, climate change being the most crucial in the long run.
As a builder, I understand the consequences of the building industry better than others. Buildings use nearly half of the energy in the United States and contribute nearly half of the greenhouse gases.
Graphics via http://architecture2030.org
Added to the energy used in operating a building is a lot of energy in producing the materials that go into making it, its embodied energy.
Fortunately humans have some great tools to work with, rational thought being the most powerful. We are becoming more efficient in our use and more responsible with our waste though we need to speed it up or get hit harder.