Allow One species to completely dominate all other species on the planet in numbers .
Give that species the capacity to modify the living environment to suit its own purposes.
Give that species an understanding that it has a right to eliminate all species that are not immediately useful to it.
Give that species an understanding that it is superior to all other species using criteria based on its own species’ traits.
Give that species an understanding that dead inanimate things that amuse it are more important than other living things.
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.
A wonderful and hugely sad post by George Monbiot on the world around us , which we, for some reason differentiate as “nature”. And the inexorable tragic loss of species, lives and our own humanity in the process-and ultimately, our own survival….
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.
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 Biocentrismethic 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?
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!
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..
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 notes: At 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) 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”.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.