Its as though we are all watching in slow-motion; a dream in which we slide inexorably towards that massive motorway firey pileup – helpless to change anything and knowing the inevitability of our fate.
And yet, if it were not for almost every government across the world being in bed with international and national corporations who drive “progress’ ( ie the destruction of the natural world to create the inanimate world humans enjoy)- this whole firey end might have been (and maybe still can be ) averted.
Global warming needs to be seen as simply one of the symptoms of the catastrophic global non-human species loss caused by human beings’ insatiable lust for ‘things” over the past 1000 years- a tiny timeframe in geological terms.
“Human emissions of greenhouse gas are not the sole determinant of temperature on Earth. Our study suggests that human-induced global warming of 2°C ( The Paris Accord limit), may trigger other Earth system processes, often called “feedbacks”, that can drive further warming – even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases,” says lead author Will Steffen from the Australian National University and Stockholm Resilience Centre.
According to the Stockholm Resilience Centre, we have but 3 years to attempt to stabilise global emissions and avert major devastating climate change. We know that renewable energy has some capacity to limit global warming ; but we also now that production of renewabl energy components come at a massive cost to the environment. We also know that man is ‘requiring’ more and energy to fuel his ‘progress’ addiction. Humans have to dramitacally reduce our energy consumption if we are all to survive.
And how is it that, in the face of all the evidence and the very visible destruction of our planet’s living fabric, we continue to press on to final global destruction? Simply man’s greed for transient baubles of ‘wealth’ and power. Humankind prides itself on being a supremely intelligent species.
The evidence is out- to the contrary- we are the most ignorant of all species.
What do we need? We need a global body that transcends artificial national state borders and that forces each nation-state to rebuild its natural living fabric: beginning with massive tree-planting of native local species, a forced requirement that no non-essential products for humans can be bought and sold ; an end to the so-called global ‘consumer society” and a requirement that all non human species be prioritised for their survival over any human “progress”.
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.
As the great journalist John Pilger notes in his 1st April 2018 article about the Ecuadorean Government’s silencing of Julian Assange , we are being subjected to a constant battering on many fronts to ensure we only listen to the ‘right’ information about the world around us.
The demonisation of Russia can partly be explained by Western Government’s concerns about the role of RT.com providing an alternative meme ( in most cases as legitimate -and often more so than its Western news-agency counterparts) to that expressed through what is termed Mainstream media (MSM) . Mainstream Media is in essence, western media which toe the dominant political party line – whether it be anti-Russian, anti-Trump, pro-‘intervention’ ( read ‘killing’) in other countries, or most importantly, pro-consumerism.
But this attempted silencing of alternative media stories, no matter how legitimate or truthful they are, not only extends to foreign entities like Russia or China , it also includes any highly visible figures like Assange who do not espouse what is known to be ‘right’ by our esteemed leaders, and the multitude of internet bloggers who research and analyse the stories behind the stories.
The recent bizarre attempt by western governments and MSM, to conflate alternative opinion as ‘fake news”, borders on the psychotic. It is a witchhunt against those who do not respect the often infantile repetitive lies told in the MSM or by apparently intellectually impaired politicians such as U.K’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, or for that matter Donald Trump. By now the old lies about the reasons we must fight wars in ‘foreign’ lands for ‘freedom and democracy” or to “save civilians”, are wearing remarkable thin.
Thus the ‘establishment’ is now flailing around for a further reason why we should just accept that the mass-killing of ‘other’ people is good for them. In John Pilger’s belief, this media frenzy against those who detour from the party line is a significant threat to the establishment, with the intended war against Russia and China looming and the drums beating ever louder – they can not afford a dissenting “fifth column” in their midst who can undermine the thirst for war or the need for civilians to rally behind the flag.
As the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal has made clear; it is not just Russia and the ‘enemy’ who is manipulating public opinion through ‘slanted stories’ and twitter bots! SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s British parent company, prides itself on its capacity to manipulate public opinion in both foreign lands and internally in the UK. We can be sure that there are many other western companies and intelligence services who, despite their actual minimal real intelligence, aim to manipulate public opinion at home and abroad. In the United States, this is an easy task. The vast majority of Americans have limited education, no understanding of foreign countries and no memory for history- an ideal subject for manipulation!
In the United States therefore we have something passed into law by Congress in 2016 called
The Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act would ensure America’s national security infrastructure helps counter the false narratives that harm our security — delivering truthful information and making the world a safer place for the United States and our allies.”
Note .. that as written into the NDAA, the legislation’s provisions establish an inter-agency body “to track and evaluate counterfactual narratives abroad that threaten the national security interests of the United States and United States allies,” and to develop “procedures to expose and refute foreign misinformation and disinformation and proactively promote fact-based narratives and policies to audiences outside the United States.”
Where the ‘facts” come that the public needs re-education on, and the ‘false facts’ that the public needs protection from, do not of course need to be stated. Our respective governments always know best! -don’t they??
As we have seen in the ludicrous litany of lies put out by the British government around the Salisbury nerve gas poisoning affair, all the key mainstream UK and other Western media have jumped in lock-step to push the U.K government Russian-basking charges without once examining the implausibility of the facts presented. Whether these media agencies and their journalists are paid, bribed, coerced or blackmailed into regurgitating this British propaganda, is unknown at this point,
This is of course not something new. State entities have always attempted to manipulate their publics to ensure compliance to the official line -whether it be going to war, or maximising the potential threats of other states to maximise profits for the corporates who fund the ruling “elite” . In all cases, the states’ manipulatory processes are for short-term gain and almost inevitably have a long term negative impact on their public.
The most telling and catastrophically fatal example of this flaw in our ‘democracies”, is the media and political drive for corporates to produce more ‘things’ and for their publics to consume more things. All analysis shows that in a closed system like our little world, this drive inevitably leads to planetary disaster – but it helps keep political parties in power…for now….
A useful analysis of military propaganda here from Adam Ramsay here
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.
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”.
In Ukraine we see good Ukraine citizens believing that ‘slant-eyed’ Russians ( perhaps Mongols from the 12th century?) have invaded their peaceful country, and along with a tiny number of Ukrainian traitors, have managed to fend off the advances of the peace-loving Kiev government army and neo-nazi Right Sektor militias to return Eastern Ukraine to the fold. We need no evidence- we simply know that this is the case.
In Syria, every good Sunni knows that it was Assad’s government that created ISIS; where else could it have come from? -in order that evil Shi-ite Persians and Lebanese Hezbollah could invade their country. Clearly Sunni Saudi Arabia and their Wahabbist crazies had nothing to do with it!
In America every good Democrat knows that it was only because of Russian intervention and ‘hacking’ that Donald Trump won the election. How else could he have won?
And in the U.K. and in Poland the Russians are coming, if they are not already here! Russia’s aging long range bombers and their sole smoking aircraft carrier are ready at any moment to bring apocalyptic doom to those good democratic shores..
I am once again reminded of my great great grandfather’s time here in sleepy New Zealand, when in the 1890s, a Russian Empire rust-bucket of a warship managed to creep this far south in the Pacific to to cause chaos and concern amongst us gentle white folks. Vast sums were raised to buy ( from British armament factories) long range guns to install on every headland to forestall the imminent threat of a Russian invasion. The Russo-Japanese brief naval and land army altercation of 1904 was to quickly prove how much of a threat those Russian warships and armed forces actually were..
So- those are a few tangible examples of collective pyschosis – how we as humans can so easily be swayed into believing an alternative reality- because everyone else is believing it too.
However – much much bigger than those relatively small events, is humankind’s current conviction (since at least the ‘industrial revolution’) that destroying all of the living things on this planet is ‘progress’ . And, decade after decade, each one of the remaining indigenous cultures have been sucked into this ‘word-view’ that we humans must produce things to make us humans happy and ‘progress somewhere’ . Every one of the material things that we produce comes at the expense of another living thing…
The evidence is very much out there- and has been increasingly obvious over the past fifty years, that we as humans are incrementally, and at an ever faster pace , destroying the capacity of this planet to provide a sustainable habitat to not only ourselves, but to all of earth’s living things. But we are still ‘locked in’ to ‘progress’ – destroying life for another bauble that will inevitably self-destruct in a few months or years…
Perhaps, just perhaps, if we had had a slow motion time-lapse video which had showed the world’s life steadily being steadily and rapidly drained away over the past 2000 years – year upon year – then just maybe we might have done something about it. Instead, we talk about it; we pretend that our machines of ‘progress’ can redress the problems, when the reality is that only other life, other species, can reverse the apocalypse- if we have time.
And that – as we all know- is not going to happen. Because human ‘progress’ its believed, is going to save us with more technology, more ‘progress’ (and more destruction of living things)…
A mammoth global campaign to plant and grow trees everywhere – to revert all our feedstock lands to forest, to plant trees on every available inch of land that is not absolutely necessary to provide humans with a meagre vegetable diet; might permit this planet to survive as a living entity….but the odds look very very slim….Trees not only once almost entirely covered the landmass of our little planet, they provided a home for a huge biodiversity of other plants insects and animals that kept our planet viable flexible and adaptable to climactic and other planetary changes. That capacity to adapt through species diversification is now being squeezed from this planet.
Lovelock had it right the first time. Our planet is indeed a single living entity – Gaia -composed of millions of different living interlocking entities- much the same way as the human organism functions.
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!
T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, The Hollow Men, ends with the following lines…
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
A recent study, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and using new statistical modelling methods, predicts that this current civilization will likely collapse in another twenty to fifty years. The study draws analogies with past human civilizations; the Assyrian, Roman, Mayan, Minoan, the various Chinese empires…. We can assume that like us; the populations of those civilizations had every reason to believe their civilization was unique and would last forever. While civilisational collapse is quite rare, characterised by entire ways of life, systems of thought, cultural values and worldviews disappearing, political collapse occurs frequently ( eg empires and kingdoms disintegrating). What appears likely to happen in our modern context, given the confluence of a number of catastrophic events, is civilisational collapse.
While this particular study has been sharply critiqued by journalists and scientists alike for its simplicity and generalisations ; the broad conclusion that, as Paul Simon aptly put it ,”everything put together falls apart” , is a healthy reminder of human hubris.
The single most important story unfolding in not-so-slow-motion on this planet is the ongoing destruction of the natural world in the name of “progress” and “growth” (ie consuming ever more “stuff”) by humans; , which will in the near future, significantly negatively impact on this species. Despite our insistence to the contrary, humans are entirely reliant on other species for our survival. It is a given that is blindly ignored by politicians, businesspeople and businesses and all those with a current stake in the way our “civilization’ currently works ( ie all of us).
As key resources become more expensive to extract, the world economy (which is apparently now the full extent of this ‘civilization’) begins to contract and distort . And as the gap between rich and poor widens, the “have-nots” increasingly demand in more and more violent ways, their right to a slice of the pie. As the oceans and atmospheric temperatures rise, so do the pressures on our artificial nation-states. As we progressively and rapidly eliminate species after species to produce more things, to make “progress”; our chances of long term survival as a species are being rapidly reduced. Our civilization demands that we assume that we have an infinite volume of resources to consume for the infinite future in a closed planetary system – a small contradiction in terms! We are indeed heading for the perfect storm.
Study after academic study shows that the more we gain from a civilization’s prosperity, the more we are blind to its failings and contradictions and its inevitable fall. This tunnel vision says , that ‘if I am doing well out of this catastrophe then it cant be a catastrophe at all!’
Homo sapiens pride themselves on their remarkable intelligence; their capacity to manipulate their environment for their own ends. They appear unable to grasp that that self-definition process of appropriating everything good, intelligent and wonderful to human attributes, is simply the result of their blinded vision. If by definition, species that manipulate their environment are determined to be superior to all other species; then lo-and-behold!- homo sapiens are superior beings! Because homo sapiens are above all other traits, social beings, all of us have an intensely strong need to “fit in”, to belong to the group. Agreeing with other people on ‘our’ group’s thought processes and paradigms is an essential part of this togetherness. However, agreement does not it make it truth.
Thus, it does not matter that the capacity to manipulate the environment for the benefit of our species and at the expense of all other species on this planet might not be quite such an intelligent thing to do, given that the environmental devastation and species destruction is largely for homo sapiens’ short term pleasures, power and baubles.
Were we to say that a species that can sustain itself easily and efficiently without damaging its environment in the process, were more ‘worthy’ beings than other species ; then homo sapiens would not be registering on the short-list!
Over the millenia, homo sapiens have been able to convince themselves that people of other cultures, or colour, or background are inferior to one’s own culture because of this self-defining process. Using the same intellectual process, the more different another species is from ourselves, the less worthy , less intelligent, more expendable and worthy of our exploitation and destruction that species becomes. The more differentiated from our species the “other” is, the easier it is to dismiss its inherent traits and qualities and its right to life. However on our ever smaller blue planet, we no longer have the luxury to differentiate between “them’ and ‘us”.
How much easier then is it to dismiss the equality of other species with ourselves when their characteristics, strengths and skills are so different from homo sapiens, and when it is so much to our benefit to be able to kill and exploit other species without moral qualms.
As Henry Gee also points out succinctly in his Guardian article , each species’ particular traits or “strengths” are based purely on, firstly, what biological mechanisms of sense are available to them ,and secondly, how they use those senses to that species’ best advantage. Homo sapiens may not value our sense of smell because its not a particularly efficient sensing mechanism in homo sapiens, but you can bet a dog does!
The capacity for self-delusion in our species is immense. Witness the largely American driven anti- climate -change camp. Of course we cannot be destroying our planet with C02 through industrialization, because capitalism and owning the means of production is the reason for our being! – after all, aren’t we, the US consumer, the greatest people on earth because our nation is the epitome of capitalism?
As another example of collective self-deception, Seth Klarman, the manager of the $27billion hedge fund, the Baupost Group, recently remarked on the similarities of the world’s banking system to the ‘Truman Show’, the late nineties Hollywood film, where the lead character “lives a seemingly charmed world, snuggled comfortably into an American suburbia of white picket fences and crisply cut lawns. But gradually Truman starts to notice something is not quite right. He is actually trapped inside a film set controlled by hidden directors, and discovers to his horror that he is the unknowing star of the world’s most popular reality TV show.” In one of the more blatant nuances of reality shifting homo sapiens have acquiesced to, our financial system is in essence simply one of “smoke and mirrors” -the manipulation of facts and figures designed to obscure reason and reality; a fragile house of cards.
One key point of difference with previous human civilizations around the world is that our current civilization is a global one; each of the parts are inextricably connected. Apart from a few small tribes in isolated areas, every one of us has bought in to this unique method of environmental destruction. Thus when this civilization collapses -(and it is a “when” and not an “if” ), that collapse will be both more rapid and more global; there will not be another model of homo sapien civilization around for the survivors to pin their hopes on. The other significant difference with other previous human civilizations is this current one’s geographical reach. Vast areas of the planet have now been laid waste in the name of human progress.
So, while the modelling conducted by Safa Motesharrei may be flawed, it does provide an opportunity for serious debate about the direction this global civilisation of ours is taking us..