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.
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.
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!