I am interested in your thoughts on reason getting us into this predicament.
Well, for starters, look at the Renaissance and the overthrow of the Old Regime β the systems and traditions which had guided society for millennia were replaced over a few centuries by ever more successful capitalist economies fueled by industrialism and the scientific method. This was a huge cultural change. But while this progress led to longer, healthier, and wealthier lives for people and the replacement of superstition with empirical knowledge, many people were left in an unmoored condition. Because under the Old Regime, every person, every class, had a function
in society. A peasant's life might be miserable but he knew he was playing a vital role in his society, recognized by the Church and the Crown. But as this old system broke down, practical economics emerged and the state began to make common good with the wealthy traders to secure influence and power. The view of society as having a purpose was replaced with a perspective which saw society as a mechanism, which could be steered through the application of reason. Instead of fulfilling the time-honored function of one's social place, the individual pursuit of wealth and success became the personal goal within an acquisitive, rather than functional, society. Rational capitalism's success was rapid once the power of steam was harnessed and the industrial revolution went into full swing. But the really dangerous consequences β pollution, resource exploitation, environmental destruction β manifested themselves too slowly to emerge as matters of concern. There's always a new forest to cut down, a new species to drive to extinction β short term acquisitional profit at the expense of long term functional goals.