Category Archives: Animal Rights

The Great Acceleration….

Our current epoch has now come to be known as the ‘Anthropocene’  for the impacts man has had on our planetary environment. It is also called “The Great Acceleration..”;  being the sixth  event in the life of this  planet  where species loss has become so pervasive and devastating.

A May 2017 study for the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America was entitled “Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines”.  The paper notes in conclusion that: “The massive loss of populations is already damaging the services ecosystems provide to (human) civilization…Thus, we emphasize that the sixth mass extinction is already here and the window for effective action is very short, probably two or three decades at most.. All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life. .” In other words, without the survival of significant complex bio-systems of multiple species, each with sustainable population numbers, humans too are rapidly headed towards extinction.

While  we talk  (and talk) about global  warming, what we also ignore is the combined impacts of  man-made emissions into the atmosphere  with the steady  destruction of the biosphere  through human “progress’  –   the literal cancer of inert dead non-organic edifices being  built  over the top and at the expense  of  the natural  world that make up  humans’  cities and towns  and transportation systems,  agribusiness destroying countless wilderness  areas into  single species ‘dead’  environments, the ongoing deforestation of native habitats, increasing  wildfires, needless human consumption,  acidification and over-fishing of the oceans, human over-population,  meat-production, war,   pollution, global  warming, water-loss ..  the list goes on  and on…  Incrementally, humans are destroying the liveability for all species on the planet at an ever increasing rate, with carbon monoxide production being just one aspect of our ongoing destruction of this planet.

Wikileaks notesAt present, the rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than the “base” or historically typical rate of extinction (in terms of the natural evolution of the planet)[14][15][16] and also the current rate of extinction is, therefore, 10 to 100 times higher than any of the previous mass extinctions in the history of Earth.

What is urgently needed is a recognition of this fact by humans, and an understanding that the model of human’ progress’ we have espoused for the past few thousand years is killing our planet. An understanding that all life- regardless of species, is inherently sacred and our  mutual survival is intertwined, and that  consequently  human ‘needs’  must be balanced against  the rights of other species. One small step to delay or even possibly reverse this destruction,  is the urgent massive scale planting of native vegetation in every possible locality and an end to our model of human  “progress”.


Links

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/07/05/1704949114.full

Supporting appendix to  Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines

Scientists Say Sixth Mass Extinction Is Under Way

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction

Reclaiming the Earth- The Mapuche Dilemma

As the Earth  rapidly approaches the point where  the  trajectory  towards  intense global  warming and  near total species  loss becomes inevitable, we now, more than ever, need the wisdom  of the indigenous peoples’  connection with  nature and acknowledgement of the reality that  the earth is   a living entity;  to  save our planet. It may  already  be too  late- but we need to  try!

Nothing;  despite all  the research  and  incremental  indelible evidence  of  ever-increasing species extinction , has changed our current trajectory  of devastating the planet for a few cheap  baubles. We appear to be locked into  an  insane path of self-destruction which  takes the rest of the planet  with us. Have we reached the ‘tipping-point’? – we will  not know until it is too  late.

That is not to  say  the indigenous peoples like the Mapuche of southern  Chile or Maori  in New Zealand or the other still surviving remnants of indigenous cultures , have  all the answers, or are even  innocent of harming the planet themselves. But they  do have a philosophy  and  wisdom  from  the past which  acknowledges the reality that,  as just  one more species on this planet ,  humans are inextricably linked to  what  we   strangely call “nature’  -ie our fellow living things.  And  that we are also solidly linked to  all the non-sentient elements of this world.

 

Mapuche Shaman’s Drum; Courtesy of the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian http://nmai.si.edu/exhibitions/infinityofnations/patagonia/177322.html

If we are to  survive as a species;  if the planet  is to  survive,  we must  restore this fundamental  core understanding to all humans – without  which we will  most certainly perish- if not within  decades,  then  certainly within  this  new  two centuries.

Our first and immediate step  is to restore power and authority to those cultures who  do in  fact  respect  the earth  and all  its living inhabitants  above  “progress’  and the production of  commodities. The next is to  produce a world wide covenant that  values other species  as equal  to our own and our obligation as a species to  truly become protective guardians of this living planet, given our  unique capacity to  manipulate our environment.

We must let the voice of all  those cultures who  call  us back  to  our roots -to be heard,  respected and  urgently responded to.

The shaman’s drum calls  us back  to  our re-connection with our  world.

 

 

 

 


Links

https://www.rt.com/in-motion/374127-mapuche-demand-release-prisoners/

https://www.google.com/url?hl=en-GB&q=http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Indigenous-Groups-Demand-Freedom-of-Mapuche-Leader-in-Chile-20161212-0024.html&source=gmail&ust=1484889158716000&usg=AFQjCNFxrOXHP7sSOc1tFMtFjA-Ne4bFnQ

http://www.mapuche-nation.org/english/html/news/n-66.htm

Our People Are Unstoppable’: Chile’s Jailed Indigenous Mapuche

 

The Cumulative Footprints of Humans

I often hear people, who   appear to be  otherwise rational  human beings,  adamantly stating that anthropogenic global  warming doesn’t exist-if there is warming they  argue -it has to be some other source than man;  why?

Perhaps  partly because  they  cannot  comprehend that  their own small  actions in a big world could  have such  a huge  impact  on  the planet. Which   is in  fact   of course, correct.

It is our capacity  as a  social  species  to  collaborate and cooperate which  is destroying this planet. If James Watt  had invented the steam engine, but  no-one had helped him build the tracks, let alone design and build another-and then another  locomotive;  then  the planet  would  have much more of its natural   green cover on it and  far less carbon  dioxide in  the atmosphere!

It is our capacity to  firstly  manipulate our environment to  suit our immediate needs at  the expense of other species, which  has created what  is looking increasingly likely as  a dead-end street  for ourselves and  the multiple species that  live  with us on this little blue ball.

Secondly it is  our incapacity to  anticipate the cumulative impacts of our actions  on the planet ( one locomotive has no  impact;  100,000  locomotives do; tar-sealing one car-park has little impact on the planet, but 500, 000  mall  car-parks do.) .

Thirdly,  it  is the inherited  presumption that  homo sapiens have a God-given right to  hold domain over the world. A handy  but incredibly foolish assumption for any species to adhere to!- particularly when that  species doesn’t understand  what  it is doing as it manipulates its environment, other  than making  and distributing little shiny baubles  that its members  are attracted to.

And fourthly, it is our short-sightedness;  we do  not see how over time, humans have radically altered for the worse, the liveable bio-sphere on this planet. What  was once, for instance in New Zealand,  several islands almost entirely  covered with tall  trees  and dense vegetation, has been in less than  two hundred years, transformed into millions of acres of  grassland feeding  various animal species  imported from  Europe, for the purpose of slaughtering them and sending the dead bodies overseas or  to extract their milk.

Many many thousands of species have been  destroyed or pushed to  the brink  of extinction in this  process of ‘human progress’, and those ancient forest  trees  are forever gone, except in  a few national parks where humans can get  a small  glimpse of what  the world was like before humans devastated it. No  longer is the dawn chorus of birds deafening,  as it once was when Europeans first  arrived on  those New Zealand  shores 200  years ago: we may be  lucky in  our  urban environments to hear one European blackbird  or a sparrow call as the sun  rises.

Deforestation across the world has been pervasive- both for agricultural  farming and for industrial  exploitation.

In the image below you an see the inexorable deforestation (loss of green) of  Europe -only attenuated briefly by  the Black  Death. That  process of deforestation has been occurring all  over the word at various rates and stages, but is now nearing the point where only a few natural  national parks will  remain across the world. And while they  certainly act  as carbon  sinks, those forested areas were (once) far more than that; they  were areas of intense species  diversity that  vitally kept our planet  alive.

 

'The prehistoric and pre-industrial deforestation of Europe" -Jm Kaplan, KM Krumhardt, and N Zimmerman ( 2009)
‘The prehistoric and pre-industrial deforestation of Europe” -Jm Kaplan, KM Krumhardt, and N Zimmerman (2009)

We have as  a species, perhaps irremediably, lost our way- and sadly all  the other species on  this planet may be lost too as a result.


Postscript

And as Pete Dolack  writes at  Systemic Disorder, environmental  collapse is a major challenge to  the capitalistic system!  How dare our world disintegrate before our eyes when we have the greatest system of profiteering the world has ever seen!

 

The Earth is NOT Our Playground

For the past two  hundred years since the British  Industrial  Revolution and the rise of consumerism, the Western  World and now the Eastern  and Third Worlds, have adopted a mantra that  says;  ‘we can  do  anyhing we like to  this world- destroy  other species, the natural  environment as much  as we want  in  our pursuit of profit and  things to  consume’.

A few humans are now coming to the realisation that  this mantra is rapidly and progressively destroying this planet- that  we, and the billions of other species on this planet , are doomed  very  soon, to  annihilation, unless we rapidly reverse this hedonistic view of  life.

In my little ‘green  and clean’  country   of New Zealand alone, we mercilessly kill many many millions of other animals we ‘farm’ each year. Each  of those animals, (as every  pet owner well  knows) , just  like us;  has thoughts, feelings and intense fear as they  approach  their deaths by  humans who must  construct  careful  thought patterns to  ensure they  are not unduly themselves destroyed by  the  pain  and psychopathic cruelty they  are inflicting on  each  animal they  encounter for killing. There are harrowing stories in  the links below of animals coming to  their murderers for  comfort  and reassurance before the moments of their deaths.toadstillinthegrass

There are stories too  of the  enormous psychological damage inflicted on  those butcherers by  their  killings  day  after day. And yet incredibly,  we see educated  ‘authorities’  extolling  diets which  endorse and enthuse over those killings. The  so-called ‘paleo’ diet-  where supposedly our prehistoric ancestors somehow had enough time and energy  to  go  on killing sprees and consume vast  amounts of meat. One has to  wonder which    killing corporation is sponsoring such  a diet?

In reality, we  in our early years, like our  fellow  primates, did kill   a few other animals, but predominantly ate  what   came to us in our  travels,  fruit, grains,  roots in  the ground and some times a lucky kill  of another animal.

We are  not ‘predestined’  to be killers in our genes- despite the animal killing industries best  protestations;  we are essentially omniverous animals- and we can  choose not to inflict  cruelty and death  on our fellow species.

But the killing industry is just  a small  part of what  we humans  are blindly doing to  destroy our planet. It is all  part of a vast  and intensely ignorant ‘understanding’,  that  we as humans,  are superior beings who  consequently have the right  to  do  what  we like on this planet.

Nothing could be further from the truth!. We are in  no way  superior beings- we have unique talents,  as many species do, but they  in no  way  equate to  ‘superiority’- whatever  that might mean.

Even humans should be able to recognise that self-definition of superority using those traits  that  that species excels in,  has rather a large flawed element of self-fulfillment. The inherent stupidity of such  an  argument should be visible to  any human;- sadly , it is not.

This self-fulfilling prejudice means that  humans can,  without a qualm, destroy  countless  individual  and total  fellow-species for any reason  the human brain  can come up  with.   Thus we can  pave over the living and breathing earth, create cancerous  concrete growths we call  cities on top  of  the natural  world, destroy billions of acres of forest to   maintain  monocrops  endlessly and increasingly sprayed with poisons -or ‘genetically engineered’  to  self-destruct  and destroy those species relying on them in the process. We can pave the planet  with increasing  labyrinths of tar  we call  roads  or ‘essential  services’, we can  desperately retrieve  more  and more of the stored earth-bound energy   on this planet  to keep  our so-called ‘civilisation’  running;  but, all  for what?

Global  warming is but one small  symptom of this incredible stupidity. Oh yes, certainly one that  will  kill  millions of humans and many billions more of our fellow species, but nothing in  comparison  with  our ongoing hell-bent ride to  destroy the planet we live on with  every   avail able tool  we have  created  since the Industrial  Revolution.

Do  we really hate ourselves this much?


Links

http://www.rollingstone.com/feature/belly-beast-meat-factory-farms-animal-activists

PTSD in the Slaughterhouse

http://werewolf.co.nz/2016/02/killing-for-a-living/

https://verdict.justia.com/2014/05/21/dilemma-humane-execution-humane-slaughter

https://www.rebelpress.org.nz/files/cleangreencrueltyfree.pdf

The Tautology of Species Superiority

Over and over again, for the past 100  years or more, we have been taught that  homo  sapiens are superior to  all  other species on this planet based on ‘scientific’ analysis. A recent  piece of research  by Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, Ph.D.,Associate professor and a researcher at Bio-Clim-Land Centre of Excellence in Tomsk, Russia, once again  scientifically refutes this self-fulfilling assumption;  by  refusing to  accept  the completely scientifically invalid, but highly respected method of using ones own definitions  to  prove what  we believe to be the truth.

In Dr Gatti’s research, he substituted  visual  self- recognition of a dog  in  a mirror, with  various dog scents . Humans’  visual  senses are one of our prime methods of relating to  the world; and in very specific  ways and using particular light frequencies and environments.  Dogs’ prime sense mode however,  is scent,  and (surprise, surprise) in Dr Gatti’s research, they appear exceedingly good at self-recognition when  that sense mode is used. Homo sapiens deem  self-recognition to  be one of the key signs of ‘intelligence’.

By both  defining what  we as humans mean  as ‘intelligent’  and by  using self-fulfilling processes, (tautological  arguments and methods), we conveniently maintain the fiction that  we are superior beings. Our strength  as a species is also  our (and this planet’s)  potential  downfall. Our capacity to  communicate  and learn  new skills from  other members of our primate species has allowed us to  effectively manipulate our environment (with no  recognition of the long-term  damage to other species or the planet’s wellbeing). That  capacity to learn from fellow species members effectively means; as Himmler well  knew, that  sufficient repetition is enough for each of us to believe any  situation is in fact the ‘right’ situation.  Hence exploitation of the planet, killing of our own  and other species, paving over our world with large blocks of concrete and tar  are all ‘normal’ things to  do. How could they be not? – we do  them and everyone acquiesces, so  they must  be right.

The reality of our self-willed blindness  is ironically plain  to  see.  Just yesterday  in Paris, we were confronted with the supposed  leaders of humanity coming up  with  yet  one more real  solution to climate change: a commitment to  not allow our planet to  raise its temperature by more than  2 degrees.  Every  leader spoke with a straight face and apparently believed what  they  were saying.

In reality, such  a commitment is impossible;- we are inexorably heading towards  climate change temperatures far in  excess of 2 degrees, even if we stop  using any more  carbon right now – today. In addition, every  speaker talked about  reducing climate change through ‘sustainable progress’ – in reality,  humankind’s definition of ‘progress’ is  the production of more things for more humans to  consume using lots of  energy  to  do  so; -‘sustainable progress’ is an  oxymoron- it’s ‘logic’  makes no  sense – we cannot keep  ‘progressing’ and live in  a sustainable world. The only solution to  climate change  is a steady  state  civilization- and that means no  more consuming,  except that which  can be used over and over again.

But no politician  in their right mind would ever mention  such  a proposition. They would never be voted in again  or receive any more donations from the ‘progressive’ corporations that fund their political campaigns. We are therefore as humans,  locked into  a process that inevitably leads to ecological  disaster.  Just maybe we will have a sufficiently large warning shock  before the final  collapse, to start turning this oil tanker around- just maybe…

But,  I am not relying on homo sapiens’  ‘intelligence’  to save this planet. Our ‘intelligence’ continues to  blind us that  we are in fact equal  partners on  this planet  with all  the other species that inhabit it. Without them, we die.


Links

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/325722-dogs-research-science-self-consciousness/

This World is not a Commodity: The Planet versus the Trans Pacific Partnership

The latest Wikileaks  release  outlines the secret  deals being conducted by   Western  state  on behalf of international  companies under the Trans Pacific Partnership deal, to  ensure those companies can  engage in whatever malpractice and destruction of the environment they  choose to . If those companies object  to  anything a local  state is doing to  restrict  their trade or profits, that  state entity can be sued in  a  highly partial  court of law without  any  jurisprudence standing (ie i totally biased without safety measures against conflict  of interest  of the legal  agents involved.

If the consequences of the TPP were not so  incredibly damaging for the environment and the future of this planet-this piece of  negotiation would be seen  as pure farce and another mighty demonstration of the woeful  lack of intelligence of the political  parties and individuals involved.

Common Dreams describes the bill  as a “Fast track to Hell”; which  in many respects,  the deal is.

A Hell  of climate hothouse change and  unfettered environmental  and species destruction; let alone  a hell  for human “consumers” of unregulated and unsafe products and significantly reduced capacity to  respond to  public health issues like  rates of tobacco  consumption . But more particularly it is a madhouse.

A truly insane drive to  destroy the planet  with  unregulated commodification before any of us get  the smallest  opportunity to  save  our species and the other remaining species on  this planet  that  are “useful” to us, from  the wholesale destruction of this planet  through  the insanity of  “market forces” .

That   supposedly sane  negotiators from  all  those Pacific countries could seriously  consider this Partnership  deal  as some thing  worthwhile to  even consider for a moment is deeply disturbing, and  is  a spectacularly horrifying litmus test  of how  irrevocably  the human species has departed from  any sense of connection with the planet  it depends upon  to  survive.

The  signing of  the TPP  will surely show that  the human species really  doesn’t deserve this planet.

Postscript

Common Dreams identifies a further draft  international  treaty,  the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which will  further  strengthen  the power of the international  corporates.

All  of this would make perfect  sense if the only  thing that mattered on this planet was making money  (for the rich)….

And if any of us need a reminder, a Stanford University study,  released June 19th 2015 notes  what  should be blindingly obvious to  any one who  looks around beyond their smartphone; that  we have entered a massive  species loss period which  is likely to  result in  the extinction of our own species . Sawing off the limb we are sitting on,  is the  comment made by Paul Ehrlich , the lead  researcher for the study…


Links

Analysis of the TPP Investment Charter

https://wikileaks.org/tpp-investment/TPP-Investment-Chapter-Analysis/page-4.html

 Fast track  to  Hell-Common Dreams

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/04/16/fast-track-hell-trade-bill-officially-introduced-congress

We’re treating soil like dirt. It’s a fatal mistake, as our lives depend on it– 

The Rise and Fall of BITs
http://www.otago.ac.nz/politics/otago061036.pdf

It’s Our Future
http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/what-is-the-tppa/

A Gunpowder Plot Against Democracy-George Monbiot
http://www.monbiot.com/2014/11/04/a-gunpowder-plot-against-democracy/

Stop TTIP!
https://stop-ttip.org/

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/03/wikileaks-strikes-again-leaked-tisa-docs-expose-corporate-plan-reshaping-global

Stanford researcher declares that the sixth mass extinction is here
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/june/mass-extinction-ehrlich-061915.html

The Fall of Empire

A new piece of analysis   of the likelihood of severe drought in the United States in the later half of the 21st  century has made some dire predictions.. Entitled  Unprecedented 21st century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains, the article posits that the American Southwest ( The broad definition of the South-West includes nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah) and the Central  Plains of the U.S. (includes Nebraska, Kansas, southern South Dakota and Minnesota, western Iowa and Missouri, and northern Oklahoma), will  as a result of global  warming and natural  climate changes, endure increasingly longer periods of severe drought.-  the worst  in  a thousand years.

The research  argues that  rainfall  measurement and soil  moisture levels  over the past 100 years do  not accurately  indicate the drought potential in the United States.

Drought Predictions 2050-2099

The “mega-droughts” of the 12th  and 13th  centuries in North America will pale into  insignificance compared to  the impending droughts beginning to occur somewhere between 2030    and 2050. This drought will  be compounded by  the then  very   severe impacts of global  warming, and the  massive loss of  groundwater and river depletion caused by  unsustainable agricultural  practices, fracking, and the large influx of  human populations  to  the west  over the preceding 100 years.

Benjamin  Cook,  a lead researcher for the study  from  the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies , notes that the models also revealed that the “drying in the Southwest would result from a combination of less rain and greater soil evaporation due to higher temperatures. They were not as conclusive about less rain in the central Great Plains but all showed more evaporation there. “Even where rain may not change much, greater evaporation will dry out the soils,” Cook says.”

If this research  is in  fact correct, then perhaps, you might argue , this is  payback  time for the 200  years of  devastation to  the planet  and horrific suffering inflicted on  so  many human beings by  that experiment in  global  destruction – the United States.

But we must not  forget  that  “innocent” human beings will  undoubtedly die , and countless millions of unique species may  well  disappear from  the face of the planet as a  result of this calamity. Or perhaps, as many of the Plains tribes ave predicted, this is their opportunity to  re-claim  their destiny.

The rich of the West  and mid-West  will have no problem  relocating to  their  houses in the eastern states or  overseas. It is the poor of the US who  will  once again  suffer as they  did in  the dust-bowl era.  Will  this extreme dislocation  lead then to  a resurgence in  workers’ rights, of equality for all, and  true non-oligarchic democracy? Or will it instead lead to  a desperate grab for other, more fortunate,  countries’ resources by  what is still  likely to be the largest  military  machine in the world?  It is however  indisputable that, over time, this environmental catastrophe will dramatically accelerate the United States’ transition to  relatively minor international player .

Will  those who  assume the mantle of ‘international leadership” be less voracious and barbarous in  their responses to international issues?-we will have to hope so.


 

Links

Unprecedented 21st century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains

New Paper: Unprecedented 21st-century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains

US faces worst droughts in 1,000 years, predict scientists


 

 

The Absentee Landlord

A research  paper published  by Oxfam,  published to  coincide with the  World Economic Forum at Davos in late January  2015, shows that the richest 1 percent have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014, and at this rate will be more than 50 percent by  2016. Members of this global elite had an average wealth of $2.7 million per adult in 2014.

In my view, the issue is less  that the disparity between  the rich  “elite”‘ is widening, and more to  do with how that  rich “elite” use their power and influence.   Provided people have enough to  eat, good sanitation, clean water,  safe housing and  peaceful  living environments, the issue of disparate  incomes becomes less an  issue of need , and more of perception and unfairness. Why  should I be poor when you are rich, and you clearly have no  more r right to  those riches than I do, and certainly don’t use those riches  in  a way that benefits  anyone other than yourself and your immediate clique?

The concern  about the   majority of  the   wealth  and power and control   resting with  a minority of the word’s population is  therefore not  so  much  an issue of how the world’s “wealth”  is shared, but the quality of the decisions that  are now being made about our future world as a result of  the disenfranchisement of decision-making  from  those who  are connected to their local environment. That  wealthy elite make their decisions on the  property they own based  almost  exclusively on how much  profit can be accrued through its exploitation.

The history of absentee landlords in  Scotland and Ireland in the late 18th  and 19th  centuries is unequivocally clear on this, and a lesson for today ,  where more than  50%  of the world will soon be owned owned by absentee owners.. The welfare of  Scottish  and Irish rentees on the land was of absolutely no concern to the landlord in most instances. Neither was the environmental  destruction of the land  of any  concern, unless it impacted on profit or pleasure.

Those who  remain connected to  the land, particularly inter-generationally, have a much greater driver to  ensure it remains sustainable for the long-term. Bad short-term decisions can undoubtedly still be made that destroy natural habitats and species, by  those connected to the land, but  an algorithm  of exploitation based purely on  short-term monetary  gain, does not make sense to those who  will inherit that land in  the future.

As just one of so many examples, in New Zealand, the rise of  dairy absentee millionaires and  conglomerates who  buy up  large tracts of pasture land (which  was once dense bush  with a myriad of species  within it)  and then proceed to  destroy the land through  unsustainable exploitation of the water resources available  to them and the long-term contamination of the water table with  dairy foecal  and nitrate pollutants. Once the profits have gone from  the “business” and the land destroyed, those absentee landlords will  take their money  and move on to another more  profitable  exploitation option.

The rapid erosion of local  ownership   to land and property therefore is not simply and issue of equity or even poverty; but more importantly, just one more ingredient in that lethal recipe for environmental  global  disaster.


 

Links

Richest 1% will own more than all the rest by 2016

Banks, Inequality and Citizens: Roberto Salvo

 

Accelerating over the Cliff in our Latest Roadster, and never mind the road-kill!

The Intergovernmental  Report on Climate Change  earlier this year noted if action is not taken  “soon’  the resultant 2C increase in  global  temperatures will have ‘severe’,  and ‘irreversible”  impacts on  human  habitation  and economic activity.

Governments, in their desperation to  feed the “god of growth” are increasingly making more and bigger   foolish decisions that  undermine our sustainability as a species on this planet. Take for instance, the ever-increasing taxpayer dollars pouring into   oil and gas explorations,  or the actions of corporate-resourced governments such  as  the UK or New Zealand, with  their  intent to  emasculate  regulations that  protect  the environment against  corporate interests .  Or the potential  horrendous environmental  impacts of international  agreements such  as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The “god of growth” must  be fed, regardless of the  consequences to our planet and the species who  inhabit it.

While climate change gets all  the press these days in  the media; it should be noted that  climate change is just one of a multitude of impacts of homo sapiens’ drive for “progress’  and ‘growth’ over the past 200 years. For those  species (including humans) at  the sharp end of climate change- those in  tropical  countries or drier hotter climates,  the impacts are likely to  be truly horrendous over the next  100 years -and for the next  few thousand  or perhaps million years beyond that. However what  underpins this destruction of our planet is our incurable arrogance that  we are somehow “superior”  beings who  are overlords of the other species on  this planet.

It is absolutely undeniable that  unless we can  co-habitate with the other remaining species  that  we have not killed off as yet-we too  are doomed as a species. We are entirely reliant on other species  for our short , medium and long-term survival. No  amount of  concrete or tar or metal  or money can  hide this fact. The journey to bio-extinction in the pursuit of  profit in New Zealand is just one of  countless stories of man’s folly.

What is required is a fundamental  shift  by  all  humans on  this planet to  understand that  every other species shares an equal  right to  life on our little blue ball. Killing off a species or a few million individual  sentient beings  to make way  for a shopping mall, is just  nonsensical.

While we may  pretend, we have not behaved in any way as caretakers of this planet;  we have not behaved rationally and with fore-thought, we have not allowed the blinkers to  fall  from our eyes to  let ourselves see the folly of our shallow understanding that  because we are homo sapiens, then anything that  does not exist or think  like a homosapien is inferior, and not worthy of life, unless it is for our use:  for us to  kill  and eat, or for human tourists to  gawp at while they  destroy  the surrounding environment. A supposed scientific principal which  argues that   other species are inferior to one particular  species whose “superiority” is based on  the core attributes of that one species and no  other, is a rather dubious piece of scientific endeavour!  This superficial belief,  called anthropocentrism, must  be eliminated from human  consciousness, if we are all  to  continue to  thrive or even survive  on this planet.

To put it bluntly,  those rationales exhibit  primitive thinking and  zero  compassion for other species; let alone  a rather dubious understanding of the laws of cause and effect.

As Prof. Will Steffen of the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre  notes; “Some people say we can adapt due to technology, but that’s a belief system, it’s not based on fact. There is no convincing evidence that a large mammal, with a core body temperature of 37C, will be able to evolve that quickly. Insects can, but humans can’t and that’s a problem.”

In all  the reports about climate change or even  loss of bio-diversity  it is very rare to  see an analysis of the impacts of homo sapiens’  folly on other species.  In almost every case  you will  instead see a superlatively superficial   analysis of the impacts of climate change  in dollars and cents, or  the cost of a species  lost we can  no longer exploit. Those analyses are proof in  themselves that  we have lost our way  as a species in  a  spectacularly ignorant way.

Oliver Millman’s graph below in The Guardian illustrates well  how close we are to  global cataclysm.

Planetary  Boundaries- Guardian article
Guardian graphic from article entitled ‘Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists’

It is time for us to  change-and soon….

 


 

Links:

The Superior Human -Youtube  1hour 13minutes

Peter Singer: Ethics and Animals 

G20 Countries Spending $88 Billion a Year to Subsidize Climate Disaster

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/11/11/g20-countries-spending-88-billion-year-subsidize-climate-disaster

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/09/30/planet-brink-human-activity-killing-planets-life-supporting-systems

Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability: Intergovernmental Panel  on Climate Change (IPCC)

http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/

Shifts in the Climate Change Debate: Hope and Suspicion: Richard Falk

Risky  Business

Biodiversity, Climate Change Solutions Inextricably Linked


IPCC Report: The Scientists Have Done Their Bit, Now It Is Up To Us

Global Warming: Why is IPCC Report So Certain About the Influence of Humans?

IPCC Summary Underscores Urgency of Emissions Reductions, Science Group Says

IPCC Report: Urgent Action Needed to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change, says Friends of the Earth

‘Severe… Pervasive… Irreversible”: IPCC’s Devastating Climate Change Conclusions
The New IPCC Report, Main Conclusions and the Story Left Untold

IPCC Report Makes Case for Clean Energy Economy

Human Influence on Climate Clear, IPCC Report Says

The Time to Act is Now: IPCC Issues ‘Final Word’ on Climate Change

Climate of Fear


Rate of environmental degradation puts life on Earth at risk, say scientists -Guardian

The Whimper…

T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, The Hollow Men, ends with the following lines…

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

A recent study,  led by   applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and using   new statistical modelling methods, predicts that this  current civilization will likely collapse in  another twenty to  fifty years. The study   draws analogies with past human  civilizations;  the Assyrian, Roman, Mayan, Minoan,  the various  Chinese empires…. We can assume that  like us;  the populations of those civilizations had every reason to believe their civilization was unique and would last  forever. While civilisational  collapse is quite rare, characterised by  entire ways of life, systems of thought, cultural values and worldviews disappearing,  political  collapse occurs frequently ( eg empires and kingdoms disintegrating).  What  appears likely to  happen in our modern context,  given  the confluence of a number of catastrophic events, is civilisational  collapse.

While this particular study  has been  sharply critiqued by  journalists and  scientists  alike for its simplicity and generalisations ; the  broad conclusion that,  as Paul Simon aptly put it ,”everything put together falls apart” , is  a healthy  reminder of human hubris.

The single most important  story   unfolding in  not-so-slow-motion  on this planet  is the  ongoing  destruction of the natural  world  in  the name of “progress”  and “growth” (ie  consuming ever more “stuff”) by  humans;  ,  which  will  in the near  future,  significantly negatively impact  on this species. Despite our insistence to the contrary, humans are entirely reliant on other species for our survival.  It is a  given that is blindly ignored by  politicians, businesspeople and businesses  and all  those with  a current stake in  the way  our “civilization’  currently works ( ie all of us).

As key  resources become more expensive to  extract,  the world economy (which is apparently now the full extent of this ‘civilization’) begins to contract  and distort .  And as the gap  between rich and poor widens,  the “have-nots” increasingly demand in  more and more violent ways,  their right to  a slice of the pie. As the oceans and  atmospheric temperatures rise,  so  do the pressures on  our artificial nation-states. As we progressively and rapidly eliminate species after species to produce more things,  to make “progress”;  our chances of long term survival  as a species are being rapidly reduced.   Our civilization demands that  we assume that  we have an infinite volume  of resources to  consume for  the infinite future in  a closed planetary  system –  a small  contradiction in  terms!   We are indeed heading for the perfect  storm.

Study  after academic  study shows that the more we  gain from  a civilization’s  prosperity,  the more we are blind to its failings and contradictions and its  inevitable fall. This  tunnel vision says , that ‘if I am  doing well out of this catastrophe then it cant be a catastrophe at all!’

Homo  sapiens  pride themselves on their remarkable intelligence; their capacity to manipulate their environment for their own ends. They appear unable to grasp  that  that  self-definition process of  appropriating everything  good, intelligent and wonderful  to  human attributes,  is simply  the result of their blinded vision.  If by  definition, species that manipulate their environment  are determined to be superior to all other species;  then lo-and-behold!- homo sapiens are superior beings! Because homo sapiens are above all other traits,  social  beings,  all of us have an intensely strong need to  “fit in”,  to belong to the group. Agreeing with other people on ‘our’ group’s   thought processes and paradigms is an essential part of this togetherness. However, agreement does not  it make it truth.

Thus, it does not matter that the capacity to manipulate the environment for the benefit of our species and at  the expense of all other species on  this planet might not be quite such an intelligent thing to do, given that  the environmental devastation and species  destruction is largely for homo sapiens’ short term  pleasures, power  and baubles.

Were we to  say  that  a species that can  sustain itself  easily and efficiently without damaging its environment in  the process, were  more ‘worthy’ beings than other species ;  then homo sapiens would not be registering on  the short-list!

Over the millenia, homo sapiens have  been able to convince themselves  that  people of other cultures, or colour,  or background are inferior to one’s own culture because of this self-defining process.  Using the same intellectual process,  the more different another species is from ourselves, the  less worthy , less  intelligent, more expendable and worthy of our  exploitation and destruction that species becomes.   The more differentiated from our species the “other” is,  the easier it is to  dismiss its inherent traits and qualities and its right to life. However on our ever smaller blue planet,  we no  longer have the luxury to differentiate between  “them’  and ‘us”.

How much easier then is it  to dismiss the equality of other species with ourselves when their characteristics, strengths and skills are so different from homo sapiens, and when it  is so  much to our benefit to be able to kill  and exploit other species without moral qualms.

As Henry  Gee also points out succinctly in his Guardian  article , each  species’ particular traits or “strengths” are  based purely on, firstly, what  biological  mechanisms of sense are available to  them ,and secondly, how they use those senses to  that  species’ best  advantage. Homo sapiens  may not value our sense of smell  because its not a particularly efficient sensing mechanism in  homo sapiens, but you can bet  a dog does!

The capacity for self-delusion in our  species is immense. Witness the largely American  driven  anti- climate -change camp. Of course we cannot be  destroying our planet with C02 through  industrialization, because capitalism and owning the means of production   is the reason  for our being!  – after all, aren’t we, the US consumer, the greatest people on  earth because our nation is   the epitome of capitalism?

As another example of  collective self-deception, Seth Klarman, the manager of the $27billion hedge fund, the Baupost Group, recently  remarked on the similarities of the world’s banking system to the ‘Truman Show’, the late nineties Hollywood film, where the lead character  “lives a seemingly charmed world, snuggled comfortably into an American suburbia of white picket fences and crisply cut lawns. But gradually Truman starts to notice something is not quite right. He is actually trapped inside a film set controlled by hidden directors, and discovers to his horror that he is the unknowing star of the world’s most popular reality TV show.”  In one of the more blatant  nuances of reality shifting homo  sapiens have acquiesced to,  our  financial  system  is in  essence simply one of “smoke and mirrors” -the manipulation of facts and figures designed  to  obscure reason and reality;  a fragile house of cards.

The dreaded "black swan"!
                                  The dreaded “black swan”!

One key point of difference with previous human civilizations  around the world  is that  our current  civilization is a global one; each  of the parts are inextricably connected.  Apart from  a few small tribes in   isolated areas, every one of us has bought in to  this unique  method of environmental  destruction. Thus  when this civilization collapses -(and it is a “when” and not an “if” ), that collapse will be both  more  rapid and more global; there will not be another model of homo sapien civilization around for the  survivors to pin their hopes on. The other significant difference with other previous human civilizations is this current one’s geographical  reach.  Vast  areas of the planet have now  been laid waste in  the name of human progress.

So, while the modelling conducted by  Safa Motesharrei  may be flawed, it does provide an opportunity for  serious debate about the direction this global  civilisation of ours is taking us..

 


 

Links

Did Nasa fund ‘civilisation collapse’ study, or not?

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Plotting the Downfall  of Society-Peter Turchin Book Review

A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation

Crisis of Civilisation 

So, after the IPCC report, which bit of the world are you prepared to lose? | GeorgeMonbiot