Human Crises & Saving the Planet

Human Crises & Saving the Planet
Human Crises & Saving the Planet

Can  the  COVID-19  pandemic create a change of heart in humanity,  and create a more just  and sustainable world?

As we have seen in  the past few weeks of the Coronavirus (or COVID19) outbreak, mankind continues to seek to  eliminate all  risk to itself.

Craig Murray  elicits a lucid outline of the  contradictions in  such  an  approach. All  living things are mortal. If we were immortal,  the consequences for the planet would be even more horrendous than they  are now.

Man’s current predilection for moving him or herself rapidly around the globe has allowed what  would have been  a very localised outbreak in Wuhan  city, Yunan province,  China, to become a global  epidemic in  a few short weeks.  The response  therefore in  most countries in  the world has been  to  eliminate  movement to  reduce transmission . Airline passenger numbers globally  have dropped precipitously and factory production has stalled,  resulting in a remarkably fast  transition to  an  (at  least  temporarily)  cleaner world and where other  animals  and vegetation retake  their rightful  place on the planet .

Other strategies however like  those used to  contain  tourists in  their cruise ships when a COVID19 infection occurs on-board by  circulating air in  the closed-system air conditioning units of the ships to  every passenger,  or the U.K.s initial  strategy  of  ‘herd immunity’, or simply blind ignorance  as in Sweden or the United States, where lockdowns    have largely failed to  occur because  of economic slowdown  fears, and have  instead vastly increased the risk of contagion and thus increased long-term economic risks considerably.

However we also  know that  that  the more transmission human  to  human  that  occurs,  the more likely  humans  will   adapt to  the new  virus, as will  the virus itself adapt to  humans and  thereby reduce its impact  on  the body  once infected. An acknowledgement that  all  humans (as do  most other species)  have large amounts of “foreign”  living entities in their bodies  which  are constantly adapting to  the  changing human bioome, permits us to be more cognizant (even welcoming)  of new bacteria and viruses that invade our bodies.

But we also need to  acknowledge that  those humans whose bodies are already  compromised by  other health issues  are much  more at  risk  from  this new  virus in  our bodies.  To  save as many lives as possible,  we need to  slow the onslaught on our medical  systems to  a  manageable level and thus help  reduce the death  rates..

The response to COVID19  has  exemplified the frailties of humans.  Our  insistence that   economic activity  and ‘taming’  (destroying) our living world  take precedence over all   other matters, has been  shattered by  our new global  understanding that  the interconnected world we have created in  the past few decades puts us all  at  immediate risk   when  new biological  threats occur.

COVID19  has also presented in  stark  terms the  childishness and stupidity of many of our leaders:  from the U.K prime minister Boris Johnson   happily shaking hands with COVID19  victims on   a hospital  visit  and now recovering  himself after being in Intensive Care, to  the pathetic tantrums of Donald Trump  petulantly  threatening to  de-fund the vital role of the World Health Organisation because they  clearly demonstrate the bizarre  inadequacies  of the for-profit  U.S.  ‘public’  health  system.

Perhaps though it is the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro  who  epitomises all  that is wrong with  such  politicised state leadership;  where  decisions are made not in  the interest of the country and its human  population (let along other living entities there) but in  the interests and petty ignorance of the leader alone-  so  he can  cling to  power regardless of the  devastation and death  mounting around him, But we also  see some other bizarre  enactments of the frailties of the democratic process;  in Belarus, or in Nicaragua where the Sandinista government appears to  basically deny they have a problem,  or Sweden,  relying on  a rogue epidemiologist to  undertake an  experiment in ‘herd immunity’  on its older people and other  vulnerable populations. Sadly Hercule Poirot’s ‘little grey  cells’  are not in  evidence  in  any of these so-called ‘leaders’.

Politicians and mainstream  media have continued their ongoing  scaremongering about Russian  threats  to  “our  way  of life”;  and/or the Chinese apparently ( according to  many  Western politicians and MSM)  for some obscure reason choosing to hide the fact  that  they had a pandemic for more than  two  weeks  from  their local  population and the world, and have been  covering up  the data  ever since . Why?-  well  because they  are ‘evil people’ basically and not like us!- and because ultimately, if the United States is to  retain  its  rapidly diminishing status as the ‘exceptional  nation’,   it is going to  have to  bomb the hell  out of any up-and-coming nation that  threatens its imperial  hegemony in  the world..

As had been noted by  the World Health Organisation and many other epidemiologists, the Chinese government response to  the Wuhan  pandemic has been rapid and responsive and effective. More effective than other country’s response to date. However the mainstream  media and other Western  commentators like to  spin  it,  the reality is that  the amazing reduction in   deaths and  infections in Wuhan  and across China has not been because “China is an authoritarian  state’,  but because it has mobilized all  aspects of society; businesses,  state organisations and community  organisations in a very  systematic way, and not because, as one U.S.  epidemiologist  has said:  the most important( reason) is that the impact of physical distancing achieved in China has been hard to accomplish elsewhere, mostly because of the freedoms we correctly value in liberal democracies’. That  commentary  is  simply a sad  reflection of  many Western  countries’ lack  of will,  leadership and a cultural awareness of community and society rather than  pure individuality and how  the  short term  imperatives of  the business economy ‘trumps’  everything else, including  people’s well-being in our individualist  neo-liberal  world.

Knowing when  a series of similar cases is in  fact  an epidemic is extremely difficult for any health  agency;  and  given  that  COVID-19  is a totally new virus,  the response to  the epidemic in Wuhan  was surprisingly fast. The work  done in Wuhan is described in  detail  here. Western media continue  to belittle that response and cast  doubt on  the  accuracy  of the data  while all  the time  providing misleading death  figures by  often excluding  non hospital  deaths,  and particularly people in  aged care facilities,  or people with  other morbidities like cardiovascular disease who  would not have died at  that time  without COVID-19 complications .

In a few years  once the politics of all  this faded on  to  something else,  we will  find that the death  rate in Europe and the U.S.  was substantially  higher than  has been  reported to  date. The equation is simple- what is a ‘normal’ death  rate for a particular time period and location ,  and what  was the rate under COVID-19?

Western  oriented  states continue to collaborate with  the United States in  enforcing  sanctions against  North  Korea,  Iran,  Cuba, Syria, Russia and Venezuela, to name a few,  in  the ongoing hope that  the sanctions will  cause enough deaths and deprivation for their populations to  rise up  against  their “evil  governments”. ( We know we’re on  the ‘right side’ don’t we?)

Some writers have subsequently that  the world must   and will  change because of COVID19: that  we will  become more caring and connected communities,  that   neo-liberalism  has demonstrated its  complete indifference, callousness  and  incapacity to  respond to such  global  crises  and the human  suffering it causes,  and will  go  down the plug-hole of history,  or even that greed  and selfishness  will  be  inexorably replaced by  caring and just  communities. Sadly ,  it is very  unlikely that  any of those hoped for  responses will  occur in the sort to  medium  term.

For as long as this economic system  can  continue  to  exploit our living world and our less fortunate human populations,  and a few people can make a huge amount of money;  then  the depredation of this planet will  continue and the planet  will  continue  its path to  destruction.

It is not by  the goodness in  people’s hearts, or lecturing by  this or that  environmental  group  or the Extinction Rebellion,  that  much  of the world’s populations will  begin  to  interact  in  sustainable  ways with  our living world;  it will  be because  they  are forced  to make pragmatic changes that  allow they and their families and communities to survive in  a rapidly changing  climate and green  world.

However there is hope.  As we  plunge headlong ever faster to  environmental  global  disaster,  global  shocks to  our fragile and  senseless economic system will  begin  to  multiply. Insurance companies will  go  bankrupt,  debt-ridden incompetent governments will  increasingly  become unable to   prop  up existing  exploitative  companies,  world tourism and air-traffic will  decline precipitously,  and people’s livelihoods will  steadily become re-oriented towards sustainable  activities and “essential’  service.

 

Then,  and only then,  will  we begin  the journey  back  to  a  sustainable world where we can live in  harmony  with our fellow living beings.

As the tongue in cheek  image from  Facebook  demonstrates, we are indeed seeing  animals and birds and presumably other more invisible species,  reclaiming their birthright in  our human oriented  environments as  human  busi-ness recedes. So  many humans are now rejoicing in  being  able to once again   interact  with our fellow species   …

Other New Antarctica Links

Sustainable Agriculture: It is possible


Momento Mori – Unpopular Thoughts on Corona Virus

https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2020/03/is-the-coronavirus-really-more-dangerous-than-the-flu.html#more

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00548-w

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/16/number-coronavirus-pandemic?

How China Broke the Chain of Infection

COVID-19: How the Media Hyped the Public Into an Anti-China Frenzy

New Research Shows Anti-Coronavirus Drugs Could Be Produced for Pennies

People ‘shed’ high levels of coronavirus, study finds, but most are likely not infectious after recovery begins

15 Ways To Stop Destroying Our World

15 ways to stop  destroying our world won’t be easy  changes to make – but they  have to  be made. 

We need to  immediately stop  the race to  the edge of ecological  abyss. There are indeed practical and viable alternatives to  the way  we  live our lives as humans. The transition wont be easy, and most of the rich  bastards are going to  go  to  the wall-  c’est  la vie!

But we need to  start now before  large scale catastrophe forces us to  stop  this crazy way  of interacting with  the world we live in. 

In order to reach the Paris Accord goals according to the Intergovernmental Panel, the world would need to see:

  • rapid and far-reaching” changes in energy systems (immediate end of fossil fuels), 
  • land use (agricultural land replanted with trees), 
  • city layouts and transportation (to reduce car use), 
  • buildings (all retrofitted to renewable energy), 
  • vast reduction or elimination of road and air travel, and 
  • worldwide checks on human material consumption. 
In other words, the end of capital civilization as we know it and its replacement by low-energy, pre-industrial, self-sufficient local and regional economies  —within a decade.
From https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/09/26/the-illusion-of-saving-the-world/
Seagul and
seagull and fledglings
However much more is needed to save our world; including….
  1. Education of the young (and older humans) about the vital  importance of respecting and protecting all  living things-an  understanding that other species are not commodities for human use and are essential  for our mutual survivability.
  2. An  understanding and  agreement that  technology  will  not save the world from  the climate emergency  or catastrophic species loss-  natural  living  solutions are the only solution
  3. The planting of  indigenous trees and shrubs in  every  available green  space  
  4. The banning of artificial pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers
  5. The planting of billions of indigenous trees -replacing areas used for monoculture farming; particularly meat and dairy production
  6. The pulling up of vast  areas of concrete and tar and replacing it  with  perennial  vegetation trees and shrubs
  7. The end of all  ‘growth’  economies-  a return  to  no-growth- (an end to  consumption for its own  sake)
  8. The encouragement of wildlife into  urban areas
  9. The banning of killing of all  wildlife
  10. The re-enlivening of buried urban  rivers and streams
  11. The  end of  non repairable goods
  12. The  compulsory  education of all  children in permaculture gardening
  13. The banning of all non essential air traffic
  14. The construction of efficient light-rail rail  networks
  15. The building of food and energy  self-sufficiency in all  communities

Even  then, the cumulative  impacts of 2000  years of global  species loss,  and 200  years of CO2 and other gas emissions into  our atmosphere will not be ‘put right’  in  a few hundred years…

Economists, politicians and business-people alike know full  well  that  a closed system like our world, cannot produce indefinite economic  “growth” (a completely flawed concept in itself). Why are they  pushing the world to the precipice ever faster? 

Therefore the sooner we begin to  implement the above processes and policies, the easier the transition  will be, with less loss of human  and other species lives.


Other   Links

The Illusion of Saving the World

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/saving-the-planet-means-overthrowing-the-ruling-elites/

Greta Thunberg & the Consolation of Doubt

The Great Acceleration….

Selling your Mother…

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/12/doughnut-growth-economics-book-economic-model

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/25/rewilding-britains-rainforest-planting-trees

A Life in Many Kingdoms….

For most people who live in big cities ( an ever increasing proportion of the world’s population) the issue of species loss  seems an irrelevance.

What does it matter if one more species is irretrievably  lost for ever,  when I have my house and car and my job in the city?   Their lack  of connection with  the living world -other than other humans in  their urbanised world,  does not mean  that  they   are not inextricably linked to  the other species who  live on  this planet-  they  just cant see it. Their food  is bought at  the supermarket  in  vinyl  halls – plastic packaged and often pre-prepared. They  do  not see,  nor do  they  care ,  about where those former living things came from: -what  lives they  had,  how they  interconnected,  how they  communicated, their thoughts and feelings… The food they  gather at  the supermarket is simply a dead  product-  sublimely and most ridiculously illustrated by  the little plastic stickers on  the fruit we buy there.-the  ultimate  commodification of nature.

 

But the reality is that  all  that  food-  animal  and vegetable arriving  at  the supermarket storehouse, was once  living, was in  fact  directly connected to  the rest  of the living world in subtle

and often invisible ways to  humans.  That  interconnection between  species is the net that  keeps us all  alive-a net  that  is steadily being undone by  humans through ignorance and greed.

As recent research over the past decade has noted,  all  species on  the planet  not only posses their own  unique DNA, but also  multiple strands (often in  much larger volume) of DNA and micro

biomes from  multiple other species,  mainly microbes.  Anything  and everything, from  the bacteria that  inhabit our guts and allow us to  digest  food that  would be otherwise indigestible to  us, to the bacteria and microbes that  come into  contact  with our skin  and  that  we inhale.  As Bordenstein  noted in  2015- Animals and plants are no longer heralded as autonomous entities but rather as biomolecular networks composed of the host plus its associated microbes, i.e., “holobionts.”- from  ‘Host Biology in Light of the Microbiome: Ten Principles of Holobionts and Hologenomes’

Skin and Microbiome linkages.)

The microbiome concept, that is, the collective communities of microorganisms, their genomes and interactions, was first used in the context of microorganisms that inhabit the human body. Since then, numerous studies have adopted this term to describe microbial communities associated with other mammals, insects, fish or plants. For humans, the microbiome significantly contributes to metabolism and provides functions that humans did not need to evolve on their own (Gill et al., 2006). Hence, the genes present in the human microbiome are considered the secondary genome….  In the human microbiome, the highest density of microbes is found in the gastrointestinal tract, where ‘they synthesize essential amino acids and vitamins, and process components of otherwise indigestible contributions to our diet…..-Cross-kingdom similarities in microbiome functions, Rodrigo Mendes & Jos M Raaijmakers (2015)

Thus,  (the) nature-relatedness (a person’s level of connectedness with the natural world [58]), biodiversity of ecosystems in which humans reside or to which they are exposed, access to greenspace and/or habitation in rural environments can have beneficial effects on physical and mental wellbeing [59]…..(However the) erosion of environmental ecosystems is affecting biodiversity and microbial ecology. Together with declining nature-relatedness this is reducing human contact with immunomodulatory organisms found in natural environments – reflected in differences in skin microbes. This is increasingly being recognised as a risk factor for chronic inflammatory diseases……..There is now consistent evidence that environmental degradation, whether by climate change, invasive species or industrial activity, is linked to diminished human physical and mental health [110111].

The very existence of this skin-environment interface raises important questions about how erosion of global biodiversity, and declining contact with the natural environments is affecting skin ecosystems and human health [5]. Examining this question in the context of the epidemic rise of allergy and other inflammatory diseases is informative because allergy is one of the earliest manifestations of inflammation often first observed in the skin as disruptions in barrier function and atopic eczema. Furthermore, the declining microbial diversity that has been long linked to the rise in allergic disease also has important implications for other organ systems across the life course.  – The skin microbiome: impact of modern environments on skin ecology, barrier integrity, and systemic immune programming: Susan L. Prescott et al (2017)

Or again….It is increasingly evident that inflammation is an important determinant of cognitive function and emotional behaviors that are dysregulated in stress-related psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and affective disorders. Inflammatory responses to physical or psychological stressors are dependent on immunoregulation, which is indicated by a balanced expansion of effector T-cell populations and regulatory T cells. This balance is in part driven by microbial signals. …. With the global trend toward urbanization, humans are progressively spending more time in built environments, thereby, experiencing limited exposures to these immunoregulatory “old friends.” Here, we evaluate the implications of the global trend toward urbanization, and how this transition may affect human microbial exposures and human behavior.-The Microbiome of the Built Environment and Human Behavior: Implications for Emotional Health and Well-Being in Postmodern Western Societies. Stamper CE1 et  al  (2016)

The Implications….

  • All  organisms are capable of genetic change in  their own lifetimes through  external  microbiome absorption and adaptation ( an adaptation of the old Lamarckian  evolution  theory, with  a Darwinian  perspective)
  • The importance of being in  regular  physical  contact  with  the rest  of the  living world has been vastly under-rated  in  its effect  on health  and mental  wellbeing. An  organism’s health  and  wellbeing depends on   having a wide variety of external  microbiomes to  incorporate into  its body and genetic structures on  an ongoing  basis.
  • Modern  human  society is dramatically reducing,  not only human’s interchange with microbiomes,  but  also through  poisonous agribusiness   practice and destruction of habitats,  is irretrievably destroying  all  species’  capacity to   genetically adapt and change and to  have optimum  wellbeing.
  • The  steadily decreasing  number of species in  the world ( largely by  human  ecocide)   markedly increases all  species’  capacity for survivability
  • Human beings’  obsession with creating cities,  with   ‘clean’  environments and  the sealing over of the living world with  concrete  and tar, are rapidly reducing microbiome diversity on  the planet.
  • For  the human species to  survive for  further millenia it has to  acknowledge its interdependence with the rest  of the living world,  and stop  creating dead spaces on  the planet. Celebrate all  life!

Links

https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/why-food-actually-information

https://www.nature.com/articles/ismej20157

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_%28biology%29

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-guts-microbiome-changes-diet/

https://wellnessmama.com/130266/skin-microbiome/

https://consortiatx.com/the-science/the-human-microbiome/

https://waojournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40413-017-0160-5

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27793224?dopt=Abstract

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4540581/

 

The Whirlpool of Environmental Collapse

Greta Thunberg is to sail across the Atlantic in a high-speed racing yacht next month to attend UN climate summits in the US and Chile ….which she described as “pretty much where our future will be decided”.

While 16 year  old Greta is  a passionate and well-meaning advocate for change to  our headlong dash to  climate  and species loss disaster;  it is eminently clear that  talk-fests by  leading politicians and climatologists are definitely not going to  make one damn bit of difference to  our current polices rapidly destroying the planet.

The Paris Accord, hailed as some  turning point in  human behaviour to our planet, was simply a cruel  facade and a hoax. Global  emissions have increased,  not declined since that accord was signed, and the environmental destruction of our living world has accelerated. We now elect clowns and idiots  to  run   our countries. Those who  participate in  those climate  talk-fests are those who  are in league with  those who  knowingly destroy our world-  the business men,  the media men, the investors,  the politicians-  all  locked in to  making more money  from  the destruction of the thin veneer of life  that used to  make our little blue world  a safe place for all its inhabitants.

The solutions are not to be found with  those who  have created this disaster. The solutions are simple ones which  do  not provide any profits or backhanders for those in  power. In  fact  the solutions  will  help  to demolish the lie of   the ‘human progress’  model  that  has been  sold to  us for the past 200  years.

Planting billions of indigenous  trees, ripping up  the concrete and tar that  seals the life out of our  once living earth;  growing plants  of all  kinds,  not for profit or ‘development’  but to  help  restore our natural  world, is our only saviour. We cannot ‘develop’  our way  out of this tragedy,  or find a new technological  solution-  that  is the way  of the con-man. We must  return  to  nature-  our natural  heritage.

Native  indigenous trees not only  breathe  in carbon  dioxide , they  provide a refuge for  enormous numbers  of living things, from  the insects that  feed from  trees, the  local fungi  and bacteria that   symbiotically  live near the roots of the trees, the birds that  live on  the insects  and the multiplicity of other organisms ( including humans)  that thrive in  proximity to  the trees. Trees also  have a huge capacity to  provide shade in  hot climates, to   eliminate human made toxins from  the air , and to  increase the  level  of water vapour  in  the air bringing life-giving rain  while protecting the soil  beneath  from erosion. Despite the ongoing hype and lies from  the mass- killers of animals –  we humans do  not need  to  consume the vast  amount of dead cows, pigs  and  sheep  that  we are led to  believe keeps us healthy.   Dramatically reducing  the area of land  used for   grazing  and replanting with  the trees that  once lived there, can  indeed help  save our planet.

The fishing industry  empires, scouring the seas for the last surviving fish  in  our over-heated oceans are not required. Humans can  and will  have a much  smaller footprint on our earth.

Do  you need that  air plane trip  to  Bali  for your holiday? Do  you need that  new car? that  non- repairable piece of technology ?

Each  of us can  plant a tree, can  help  save our world-  now!

 


Links

https://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/climate-weather/storms/trees-affect-weather1.htm

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/07/29/earliest-ever-earth-overshoot-day-shows-humanitys-consumption-planets-natural?

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

 

George Monbiot and “The Unseen World”

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….

http://www.monbiot.com/2017/12/28/the-unseen-world/

 

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/

Click to access Mainstreaming_Agrobiodiversity_Sustainable_Food_Systems_WEB.pdf

Biocentrism / Robert Lanza’s Theory of Everything

http://www.footprintnetwork.org/

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