Category Archives: Supposed Superiority of Humans

A submission to my local Council on bio-diversity & climate change

I note that the Mayor states in the forward to  the  Council’s proposed Annual  Plan that: ‘A strong area of focus for our Annual Plan 2019/20 is climate change. Council recognises that climate change mitigation and adaptation present key challenges for our region, country and the globe. We need to build our resilience and harness innovation to ensure we can plan and act in a responsive and responsible way”

It is rather difficult to reconcile this statement, which confirms the enormity of climate change as a fundamental threat to human sustainability, with the actions proposed in this Plan.

It is interesting to note that there is no mention in the Plan about species loss and ecosystem collapse- issues which have equal weight in terms of human capacity to survive on this planet in the medium to long term, and which are completely interrelated to climate change. Other than the Department of Conservation, which has a very limited range of actions permitted to it , there is no human agency out there looking out for nonhuman survivability either in this region or nationally. Councils must act!

Given the recent government report; ‘Environment Aotearoa 2019’, which as “Stuff” notes paint a grim picture in many respects, the report’s assessment of native ecosystems and the plants and animals they contain is particularly bleak. Almost two-thirds of rare ecosystems were threatened by collapse, the report said, and thousands of individual species were either threatened or at-risk of extinction. Those species include 90 per cent of all seabirds, 84 per cent of reptiles, 76 per cent of freshwater fish and 74 per cent of terrestrial birds.”

Actions which focus on th city’s  “development’ are fundamentally in opposition to working to reduce climate change and at the very least, slow down our catastrophic species loss. Whether we like it or not, humans are entirely dependent on the other species on this planet for our survival. We cannot live on shopping precincts and electronic baubles.

Human ‘progress’ equals the substitution for living and wild areas for dead spaces or toxic farming areas. Like it or not, your city planners will be forced sooner rather than later to plan for a zero growth economy – why not start now?

E.O Wilson’s book “Half Planet” and the Half-Earth Project https://www.half-earthproject.org/ make it very clear that humans will not survive on this planet without urgent and dramatic restoration of the eco-sphere that protects us all . The Extinction Rebellion movement of our youth also makes it very clear where our future does not lie and what our options are.  Act now with bravery! https://rebellion.earth/

Since coming to this city I have been amazed at the amount of concrete “easy-care’ properties; in a climate where plants grow well and where lawns could quickly become low maintenance shrub and vegetation areas that support a wide range of habitats and species.

Surely our recent wildfires are a lesson to be learnt? Re-plant hill areas with native shrubs and trees that provide shade and damp ground areas beneath them and provide moisture back into the air, increasing the likelihood of rain. Stop the planting of pines and eucalypts – plants which are adapted for drought conditions and which minimise moisture loss from their leaves and produce resins that encourage wild fires in dry times.

Some Proposed Actions:

  • Develop and environmental code for all city planning decisions , which place predominant weight in planning decisions that ensure minimal disruption to all wildlife, along with specific actions to increase wildlife . Equal species rights is the only survivable option https://www.humansandnature.org/humans-nature-the-right-relationship

  • Apply permaculture strategies for urban planning https://permaculturenews.org/2012/03/07/re-imagining-urban-design-and-city-life/ (and please note that quote there in terms of busineses co-opting open spaces: The enclosure of public spaces, by the same reasoning, is anti-democratic. When shopping malls and office towers eliminate our public squares, our parks and our promenades, we lose our capacity to see each other, to socialize and speak publicly, to identify and empathize with each other, to be commoners. Without these spaces, we are forced into playing roles dictated by the Market or the State.

  • Develop city planning processes that are aligned with human and other species centric behaviour https://centerforthelivingcity.org/janejacobs. Develop a city whose structures and systems fosters and celebrates other species in our presence, that encourages interactions between all members of its human society (the poor, the unemployed, the wealthy , the young and the old) , that promotes safety, connection and wellbeing for all.

  • Replant most large lawn areas owned by the council with native and edible plantings. And stop putting toxic acid bark as mulch. Pine bark kills most of the native insects and other organisms for some soil depth – mulch with living plants.

  • Completely eliminate immediately the spraying of weedicides to keep berns and other grassed areas “tidy”.

  • Develop a city by-law to limit the concreting over of properties – all new driveways remain gravelled and unsealed .This will allow the soil to breathe underneath and permit the multiple soil species in that area to survive. It will also allow rain water to soak into the ground and help create more life, rather than being siphoned off into concrete storm-water drains and into the sea.

  • Extensively replant all stream, river and estuarine boundaries to the water’s edge with plants natural to those habitat areas. This will reduce erosion, silting up and improve water quality, and greatly improve the diversity of all species surviving in the area and beyond the water.

  • Severely restrict fishing in all areas close to the shore. Such fishing is helping (along with the commercial companies) to destroy our oceans, by eliminating essential breeding grounds for fish and other marine animals.

  • Stop the development of more commercial areas unless they are densely planted with native and other species.

  • Provide extensive education training and practical opportunities for communities to ensure their neighbourhoods are safe places for all species. (learn how to provide natural habitats, how to plant your backyard, compost etc etc ) Develop a free city-wide ‘creative commons’ of internet shared space for creating community, connection and environmental sustainability.

  • Develop public transport systems that are innovative and flexible and light- eg shared transport options that are modelled on electric scooter technology, and also encourage community interaction.

  • Encourage local small scale human activities that work alongside nature. Develop community garden initiatives, seed sharing clubs, local community planting initiatives…

  • Significantly extend and improve the filtering and natural oxidation processes for sewer discharge. More swamp ponds and natural screening filters to ensure all sewage and other industrial water discharges are naturally filtered and no untreated discharges occur in extreme weather events (events which are becoming more and more frequent!)

  • RE-PLANT!

12 Years to Go….

Homo  sapiens are a strange species. They self-proclaim their superiority over other species  because of their  supposed ‘intelligence”, while they  are self-evidently systematically  destroying all aspects of life on  the planet  they rely on  for their survival. We are, branch  by branch,  cutting off all  the limbs of the tree of life that  enables our survival.

One might be forgiven   for thinking that  those actions of destroying life in  exchange for  the creation of inanimate objects might be considered the ultimate in  folly and stupidity;  but apparently this is not the case.

Academics, politicians and researchers continue to promote an undeniably ridiculous self-delusional  note that  more  human ‘progress’  can somehow,   in its ongoing destruction of the natural living world ,  create a new and better world  for humans-  ( a dead world)  Perhaps these Nobel  prize winners will  continue to get  their  university research stipends  from big business  until  their lives become unlive-able in  their hothouse  university offices; part of  that newly ‘progressive’ dead world…where slight-of-hand carbon  trading,  or the wonders of “renewable energy”,  allow us to pretend –  right up  to  the last  moment-  that we are creating a new reality..

A quote from The Guardian about these illustrious Nobel Prize winners…

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the two men had won the prize – which is not one of those originally instigated by Alfred Nobel – because they had “designed methods for addressing some of our time’s most basic and pressing questions about how we create long-term sustained and sustainable economic growth”.

The two men, it continued, had “significantly broadened the scope of economic analysis by constructing models that explain how the market economy interacts with nature and knowledge”.

One of the most recent media  releases from  the Intergovernmental  Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that  global  warming will  certainly   increase  to 1.5C  above previous ‘normal” global  temperature levels in  the next 12 years,  and that  that increase will  dramatically impact  on  human being’s survival  and many other species . Should global  temperature increases reach  2C;  as they  will  without dramatic  intervention,  then the impacts on  all  species will  be catastrophic..

A previous study  by  the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) noted that  species loss is as great  a threat to  humanity (and the rest of the living fabric of the Earth,  as climate change.   It does not appear to  occur to those scientists  that   climate change and species loss are part of the exact same issue:  the commodification of the living world.

I am always reminded when  I go  to  our local  supermarket of this bizarre absurdity- of man making living things into  commodities for human beings ,  when  I see the little plastic  labels on  the fruit and vegetables  being sold there. Human beings have somehow created a collective psychosis  over many millenia that  sees this world we live in as something for use- something outside of us –  rather than  the reality of being intimately and totally connected to  us and essential  for our mutual  survival.

Few,  except  some of the South American  indigenous communities have retained this essential understanding of how our world actually lives and breathes. Human  beings will  only survive on  this planet  if we recognise our intimate and sacred connection to  the rest of our living world.

Is it too  late to start  to  re-learn  this lesson   and begin the  re-greening  of  our world?


Links

http://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/pr_181008_P48_spm.shtml

http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/world-leaders-have-moral-obligation-to-act-after-un-climate-report

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/08/two-us-economists-win-nobel-prize-for-work-on-climate-and-growth-william-nordhaus-paul-romer

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/oct/09/shell-ben-van-beurden-mass-reforestation-un-climate-change-target

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/fate-of-human-race-depends-on-massive-greening-effort/

http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/going-full-circle-growth-planet/

https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/UN-Report-Confronts-Nations-with-Tough-Choices-on-Climate-20180930-0010.html

https://www.fws.gov/nativeamerican/pdf/tek-salmon-2000.pdf

How to Kill Off a Vibrant Green World in 6 Easy Lessons

From: THE MODERN WORLD BOOK OF WONDERS BY PAUL TOWNEND (1950)
  1. Allow One species to  completely dominate all  other species on  the planet in  numbers .
  2. Give that  species the capacity to  modify  the living  environment to  suit its own  purposes.
  3. Give that  species an understanding that it has a right to  eliminate all  species that  are not immediately useful  to  it.
  4. Give that species an  understanding that it is superior to  all  other species  using criteria based on  its own  species’  traits.
  5. Give that  species an understanding that  dead inanimate things that amuse it are more important than other living things.
  6. Give it limited powers of empathy and understanding towards other species that  are not its own.

A tragic and heart-bleeding video below  of a Borneo  orangutan  futilely trying to  fight off a mechanical digger which has destroyed its beautiful   home  and its  sustenance and countless more other living  things that will  be  forever no  more ( note the  condescending language used of “seemingly defending its home “. ) for a  few dollars in  pay  for the loggers and a few thousands of dollars to  the logging company.  This is why  we are destroying the only home we will  ever have –  our beautiful  earth.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/orangutan-defends-jungle-home-video-digger-ape-borneo-indonesia-deforestation-a8387836.html

Not just in Borneo,  but all  over the world for the last three  thousand years , we have destroyed the trees and living world that made this world our home – for no purpose whatsoever…..


Links

https://www.ipbes.net/news/media-release-updated-biodiversity-nature%E2%80%99s-contributions-continue-dangerous-decline-scientists

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/21/human-race-just-001-of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-of-wild-mammals-study

http://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2018/05/15/1711842115.full.pdf

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/07/12/exti-j12.html

https://phys.org/news/2018-02-biodiversity-loss-extinction-cascades.html

https://weather.com/science/environment/news/2018-03-26-animals-extinction-water-loss-climate-change-study

http://davidattenborough.wikia.com/wiki/The_First_Eden

 

The World as Samsara (Illusion)

Each human being creates from infancy, an internal mental world of what the world is – what is good and bad – safe and unsafe; what the names of  the ‘things’ are ‘out there”, and how the world works . And where do those judgements come from?- they come of course from our experiences after birth. Are they reality?-in one way they are- they are our reality. Some pieces of that reality will be shared- what we like to call ‘culture” or ‘norms’ or any other excuse to define the world other than by its real aspect- but they are simply the random experiences we have acquired since birth.

But in a more fundamental way they are of course, completely fictional. This construction of the world from our thought processes has almost nothing to do with reality, and all to do with our mind’s interpretation and synthesis  of the random events of childhood and later life we are exposed to. We are conditioned to believe we are no more than the patterns of thoughts we have acquired, (i.e. my thoughts are ‘me’) but we are in fact much more than that.

Zen Buddhism asks :” who was I before I was born?’

Or perhaps the master Osho described it with more clarity, by saying (paraphrased)  “our minds are a tool which you can use with care and attention to assist you; but they are not ‘you’ ”.

“Reality” the way our minds perceive it, can therefore be anything we choose it to be- but that choice is based on the narrow possibilities of our earlier experience till this moment.  Beyond (or under, or behind) our thoughts is pure being- our essence, or as Maori of New Zealand put it -‘Mauri’ –  which is inescapably interconnected with every other living ( and not so living) thing. That mauri is within us from the day we are born till the day we die- and long before and after that. It is always there, but shrouded by man’s constant thoughts.

How to experience that space of pure joy and oneness that is always with us? The techniques of the ages are there for us to use. -meditation is the primary and most direct path- but prayer, mindfulness, fasting and many other techniques also have that capacity to progressively strip away the mind chatter to expose the essence of ourselves and the universe within.

Our thought patterns -what many describe as our ‘ego’- are intensely malleable. We believe we are a constant person -’me’ -but in reality we shift from moment to moment in our thoughts. In addition, because we are individually defenceless primates who rely on our fellow community members for safety, we have an intense need to agree with the thoughts of other members of our primate community. ‘Group think’ is more pervasive in human society that most of us would like to think!

Individually and collectively, humans are also very good at providing self-justifications for their thoughts and actions. Our age-old justification for the use of violence  is just one proof to that!

The joy and peace is within us: we need merely to retrieve it .

As the Buddha said: We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

Selling your Mother…

The title of this  post comes from  a quote in a mini-thesis by  Rafael M Santos (2011) “Ethical  Responsibilities and the Environment’  in  which he notes the Australian Aboriginal  response to  the commodification of land and animals as  “much like putting a price on  your own mother” .

In late February/March of 2017  the Vatican pulled together a Working Group  to  look  at  the current state of the world in  relation to  species extinction and global  warming.

As the Vatican notes; The subject of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ (biodiversity especially its Chapter 2), climate change, is estimated in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to be on a course to destroy 20-40% of all biodiversity on Earth by the end of this century regardless of any other factors, but of course interacting with them. The living fabric of the world, which we are enjoyed in Genesis, Chapter II to protect, is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring.

Predictably the Vatican discourse continues along a familiar theme ,  how man  should be the “protector’  of all living things  for the purpose of  their usage by  man. As always,  it is our ‘god given  right’  to  subjugate and destroy the other species on  this planet as we see fit. But even the working group  has to  admit;  such  a  philosophy is rapidly leading humans,  as well as the other species on  this planet,  to  extinction.

To  its credit however, the working group has however , finally made the connection between global  warming and  biodiversity and the horrendous impacts  both  outcomes will  have for both humanity and the planet.

Our desire for enhanced consumption grows more rapidly than our population, and Earth cannot sustain it. Nothing less than a reordering of our priorities based on a moral revolution can succeed in maintaining the world in such a way as to resemble the conditions we have enjoyed here.

Somehow we are supposed to believe that  we are  ‘superior  beings’  to all  other species on  this planet;  our ‘intelligence’  and  problem  solving skills are apparently gifts from one or other  god,  and thus proclaim  our right to  sovereignty over ‘nature”. The reality is that  as a species we have demonstrated, over and over,  that  we are extremely limited in  our  selective ‘intelligence’  and an understanding of what  matters, and our capacity to  behave ‘rationally’. Our capacity for self-delusion is enormous.

Our species’   intellectual reasoning is  a hardwired  self-fulfilling congratulatory process that  determines its successes  using its own definition of what  ‘success’ is.   Such  a process is clearly designed to  allow us to  continue to  pat  ourselves on  the back  with  our species’  ‘progress’ and continue to collectively do  what  we have been doing to  this planet  for the past few thousand years ,  while the planet heads ever closer to  massive extinction.

There is however a kind of blind logic to  why  we are progressively destroying the planet  on  which  we stand: an internal circuitous set of arguments that permit all of us to legitimise the insanity of our actions.

As Jackson (2017) notes ‘The tendency to economic growth according to Schnaiberg (1980) is due in part to the competitive character of capitalism, such that corporations and entrepreneurs must continually expand their operations and their profits lest they be swamped by other competitors. On the other hand there is also growth logic within the sphere of the state, as state agencies and officials prefer growth over stagnation in order to ensure tax revenues-the essential fiscal basis of the state  (Redclift and Woodgate 2010). Neither of these two  drivers (corporate competitiveness, and the state’s need for growth, are in  any way  related to  necessity or human  survivability;  they  are essentially “nice to haves’  from a human perspective. We are in  fact  driving the planet  rapidly to  extinction for shiny little baubles of no  value.

What is desperately and urgently needed then,  is the incorporation of what  Jackson  (2017) refers to  as the Biocentrism ethic into  everything we as humans do..
Biocentrism is a life centered attitude towards biological diversity of the environment. The life centered theory posits that all forms of life have an inherent right to exist. It considers nature and all forms of life special in itself. Nature has intrinsic value or inherent worth apart from human appropriation. Biocentrism hence advocates for the preservation of the environment and all life forms free from human intervention. 

Do  we have the collective wisdom as a  species to  stop  destroying this planet, to  understand how our commodification of the world we live in is destroying all  of us, to  begin  to  undo  the  incredible destruction we have wrought on  our fellow species in  such  a short space of time ,  and most fundamentally, to begin  to  respect  all  other creatures as our equals?


Links

What Is Animal Liberation? Philosopher Peter Singer’s Groundbreaking Work Turns 40

http://www.pas.va/content/accademia/en/events/2017/extinction.html

http://www.pas.va/content/accademia/en/publications/scriptavaria/extinction.html

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jackson_Jack2/publication/319422926_ENVIRONMENT_AND_SOCIETY/links/59a96843a6fdcc2398416572/ENVIRONMENT-AND-SOCIETY.pdf

https://archive.org/details/EthicalResponsibilitiesToAnimalsAndTheEnvironment

http://www.robertlanzabiocentrism.com/biocentrism-wikipedia/

https://www.bioversityinternational.org/fileadmin/user_upload/online_library/Mainstreaming_Agrobiodiversity/Mainstreaming_Agrobiodiversity_Sustainable_Food_Systems_WEB.pdf

Biocentrism / Robert Lanza’s Theory of Everything

Global Footprint Network

http://fewd.univie.ac.at/fileadmin/user_upload/inst_ethik_wiss_dialog/Llorente__R._2009_P._Singers_AL_in_Ethical_Perspectives.pdf

 

The Last Stand for Our Survival

While multinational mining companies and other entities continue to  plunder   the remains of our natural  resources on  this planet,  we are rapidly heading towards environmental  disaster.

Recent heatwaves in southern Europe are just one of almost countless  signs that our inexorable path to  global heat (not warming) will lead to  much of the earth  being un-liveable-  not just  for humans but also  for the other species that  we rely on  for our survival  on  this planet.

Our blind stupidity as a species, our incapacity to  plan for anything more than the next year or two,  combined with our capacity to  inflict  horrendous damage to  the  eco-systems that give us all  life, are rapidly, and ever more speedily,  pushing us down the path to  oblivion.

Those remaining indigenous cultures that have not been sucked into  the collective  insanity of the human ‘progress’  meme,  are being actively imprisoned and murdered because they stand in  the way of more profits for multinational  companies. One wonders where exactly those muti-national  board members will  run  to  when  their gold is literally too  hot to handle?

In the United States there is even  debate as to  whether the U.S. Trump  administration will  ‘accept’  the recent Draft of the 2017 ‘Climate Change Report’, such is the insanity that prevails;  not just in  the United States but across the word where governments are locked into  close relationships with the business sector that is destroying the planet in  the name of progress.

There appears to  be  no  capacity to  change our direction of increasing species destruction and increasing production of carbon  dioxide and the  other climate  change accelerants,  despite the hype generated at  the voluntary  Paris Accords.

It is of course  not surprising that  the U.S.  president  has rescinded the United States willingness to  implement the Paris Accord. In a country  where all  government policy  is, and always has been , sold to  the highest bidder,  the coal  industry won out!

We know that  ‘global fossil fuel emissions grew by 0.7% in 2014, then held steady in 2015. Provisional data for 2016 predict a very small rise, of just 0.2%.’ This tiny decline, or possible small  increase, may be  more attributable to  the decline in  the global  ‘economy’ (reductions in  coal use and cement production)  rather than  any active intent to  reduce emissions;  although  changes in  electrical  production  using  so-called renewable energy have  also  have played a part. In reality, renewable energy  products place huge demands in  different ways on  the environment.

However it’s important to bear in  mind that  while we have not seen  a significant increase in  the amount of CO2 production globally,  we have not seen a  decrease-  the amount  of CO2  being pumped in to  the atmosphere is now about 9.9 billion tonnes  per year….More than  enough to continue ratcheting up global  temperatures at  an increasing rate for centuries to  come,  when  we take into  account   both  the immediate impacts of increased temperatures and the slower impacts of  the capacity for CO2 storage in  our oceans, soil   and plants ( which  are rapidly declining in  global  volume)  steadily decreasing..

We are quite simply ,  not a fit species to  be entrusted with  the  future of this planet.

When the supposed ‘greatest  nation on  earth’  behaves like a child bully in  the playground and threatens  nuclear war on  all  and sundry;  when  ecological  devastation is not even  taken into  consideration as we  plunder  the planet, and its once multitudinous living things   for our little shiny baubles, then  we know we have lost our way-  irremediably..


Links

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Indigenous-Women-Led-Environmental-Struggle-in-2016-20161226-0019.html?

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

http://www.atree.org/earthday_2017_secre