While Russia and the United States fight it out by proxy in Ukraine for the spoils of war, or the 70+ year old war against Palestine and the war in Yemen to name just a few, the world continues, at an ever faster rate, to descend into climate and natural disintegration.
This is not to denigrate the appalling suffering and damage to the living world that wars bring- or to deny that there are evil people in the world (but not always the people that you consider are evil )
However, the recent IPPC 6th report of 2022 clearly articulates that the world is now in a perilous state. Climate change is now and will increasingly devastatingly impact on human’s lives and the other living things on this planet.
‘The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.‘
Despite all the hype and speeches from ‘important global people’ at the COP26 climate change conference in Edinburgh in 2021 , the rate of global CO2 emissions continues to increase, not decrease. The natural world of indigenous forest is increasingly rapidly being hacked to oblivion for quick bucks for agribusiness, and along with it’s demise- all the species that depend on that living world.
The use of chemical pesticides and herbicides (poisons) that eliminate the insects and birds that provide life for the rest of us on our planet, is not being reduced. Even our supermarkets and hardware stores continue to be lined with rows of poisons to ‘tame nature’.
It is abundantly clear that politicians around the world have absolutely no intent to eliminate the ongoing destruction of our planet, let alone begin to restore it to a sustainable living world.
The current bizarre and mythical obsession with “growth” and “progress” constantly spewed out by planners, politicians and the media provides humanity with a completely flawed sense that we are ‘going somewhere’, ever upwards! We are in reality not going anywhere (unless to oblivion if we continue our current tack); we simply exist as safely and comfortably as we can for as long we can, as part of our living planet-nothing more-or less. Psychotic illusions of human ‘progress’ will damn us all to oblivion.
We need to take both individual and collective action to save our planet from human greed and undeniable human stupidity.
The destructive changes human activity has wrought on this world in the past 40 years; let alone from the start of the Industrial Revolution and earlier, are horrendous in magnitude and depravity. And, as ‘State of the Planet’ notes, those changes are not just temporary blips in our march towards ‘progress’ . Many of those devastating environmental changes will be with the planet (and maybe humans ) for thousands if not tens of thousands of years from now.
We can and must therefore do what we can to stop the continued and accelerating destruction of our living world, and begin to reverse that damage through dramatic reductions in consumerism, through tree planting and through simply acknowledging that we as humans are interconnected with the rest of this living world we inhabit.
Every human child needs to be taught now and forever, to respect and cherish every other living thing on this planet– not just their human neighbours; to learn that they don’t need to consume the ‘stuff’ that’s ‘pushed’ at them by media, and to consider what each and every one of their actions will have on the living things around them.
A study by the University of Bath last year found that climate change is causing severe mental health concerns among people aged 16–25 years. It found that nearly 60% were “extremely worried” about climate change and that the concerns were exacerbated by governments’ lack of action.
We no longer, and never again, will have the option of disregarding the rest of our natural world- there are now simply too many of this human species on this small planet to pretend that each one of our actions do not matter !
The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation and the subsequent explosion of sanctions on Russian oil and natural gas, wheat and other products by Western nations, is likely to result in a substantial long-term economic downturn in both the West and Russia because of rapidly escalating oil, natural gas and nickel and paladium prices, consequent substantial increases in global transport costs, supply chain disruptions and inflation.
Food costs will also rise from shortages of chemical fertilizers, increased wheat prices and transport costs for many in the West and the third world , and this will have the most impact on those who are already struggling.
The only upside from all this chaos is that consumption in the West is likely to substantially diminish in the short to medium to…… Given that, per head of population, the West is by far the biggest producer of CO2 and the cause of much of the deforestation, species loss and environmental destruction in non Western countries, Gaia will be smiling.
Along with the impacts on consumption because of COVID- (less air travel, less conspicuous consumption because of lockdowns etc), we are likely to see a significant reduction in the production of CO2 into the atmosphere with a higher proportion of renewable energy sources, and a higher proportion of more organic fertlizers .
Of course the actual measurable processes and outcomes are much more complex than the above simplistic outline. Just two examples ; possibly coal production will increase significantly in Europe to cope with the reductions of access to natural gas and oil resulting in, at best, a status quo level of CO2 production, and/or commodity prices in the West increase to such an extent that revolutions on the street occur, and result in even more violent and extremist governments than we already have…
One of the biggest likely impacts will be on the confidence of European and U.S. populations that this current way of life of excessive consumption is both realistic, sustainable or even possible.
Combine that with the predicted but certain dire impacts on climate and global livability by the recent IPCC report on climate change, and we have an existential crisis of confidence in the Western way of ‘life’- ( or should that be ‘way of consumption’?)
Of course the other option for Gaia is nuclear war- not an impossibility given Vladimir Putin’s insistence that there can be no world without Russia, and Washington’s neoliberal and media blood-lusting for ‘no flight zones’ over Ukraine and their wish for dismemberment of Russia. Human beings have some significant cognitive problems with resolving conflict issues in reasonable ways.
Gaia may well be calculating that human beings were an unfortunate and highly destructive anomaly, and we need to start from scratch again…
when our New Zealand government announces its fully supportive of measures to reduce climate change impact and reduce biodiversity loss (except not quite right now), and then announces a one billion dollar free trade deal with the United Kingdom, we sense there is a little mismatch!-or perhaps, dare we say it? -even a little smattering of psychosis?
The ‘environment’ is everything on this planet; its not some separate piece of work or concept that we can occasionally pull out and look at and say, ‘well we achieved this climate or biodiversity goal, now we can get back to the real work of human progress’..
That billion dollar deal will result in more dairy production in New Zealand (more polluted and depleted water sources, more natural environment destroyed for more dairy farmland, and more processing infrastructure like roads and factories), more vineyards using prodigious amounts of poisons to keep nature at bay from their precious grapes, and more sheep and cows being brutally killed in our slaughterhouses. And that’s just the start!
When are we going to see governments across the world really accept that every bit of ‘progress’ they encourage in connivance with their business allies, is destroying the planet?
A steady state economy in every country around the world is literally not going to be the end of the world – (but more ‘progress’ will be). The desperate, futile and farcical arguments that we can somehow escape global climate change and loss of diversity with more technology, is simply fiction. Every new piece of ‘alternate’ industrial production, whether it be lithium batteries, hydrogen production or carbon capture is simply sleight of hand- robbing the environment to pay for more ‘progress’.
We need to start consuming less- a lot less: Eat more local food, grow our own where we can, repair broken items, buy second hand when we need something different, stop the fiction of a housing crisis in the Western world and ensure housing bought by speculators (because of low bank rates) is occupied affordably stopping the unnecessary building of houses over land and nature, get rid of the expectation that we need that overseas holiday, or that we need to kill other species for fun and relaxation…lower our expectations that we ‘need’ this or that, and more of it- we don’t.
As the climate rapidly evolves globally into some new unknowable and unpredictable chaotic pattern, we will see more drought, more floods, more storms, more climate extremes of every kind- becoming more and more intense as we rapidly, and seemingly inevitably, head towards a 3C warmer world.
In consequence, large scale human activity; industrial farming, mining and goods production is becoming more at risk- supply chain problems are escalating, production costs are rising, transport costs are ballooning, and insurance premiums will go through the roof to cover that increasing wild unpredictability. We will have to move towards smaller and more localised production; we will not have a choice.
Curiously, the equally important U.N Conference on biodiversity this October 2021 in China, received almost no media attention. Yet retaining as much as we can of the remaining species now left on this planet, is vital to humans and every other species’ survival- just as much, if not more so, than climate change. The difference of course is that species loss doesn’t, apparently for now at least, impact on human economies, so its not worthy of the same attention. However, almost every aspect of human ‘progress’ requires the depletion of natural environments for other species and species’ death. The level of destruction of sentient organisms in the world via human ‘progress’ is phenomenal, and has already potentially reached a tipping point of no return for the remaining species- including humans.
We are told that if we do not change our ways, reduce carbon emissions, ‘soon’ it will be too late.
If we haven’t guessed by now , that ‘soon’ is right now. We are already in a climate crisis- of massive fires out of control in the United States, in coastal Mediterranean areas, in Siberia to name just a few. Of “Once in a 100” or 200 year floods, of temperatures in parts of the world that are close to killing any living thing.. We are there – right now…and its not going to get better any time soon- no matter what we do.
This is not a ‘crisis’ that will go away if we just behave ourselves.
This is a crisis that will be with those who survive on this planet for at least the next thousand years- and many more years than that, if we cannot reduce our carbon consumption and start planting trillions of trees.
Even if we were to stop creating more carbon dioxide right now, the planet will continue to warm, the climate will become more unpredictable and unstable. And of course our great politicians are not talking about anything as radical as eliminating our carbon footprint any time soon!- no!- they want us to reduce the ‘rate of increase’ of carbon by 2030 or 2050 or – some other target date far away…that doesn’t impact on their corporate ‘sponsorship’.
But somehow many of us continue to believe that those great human minds will save us with some new technology -perhaps detonating some nuclear bombs to provide a nuclear winter for us, or sending dust particles into the atmosphere!
Are we consuming more and more to cope with our fears for the apocalyptic future?- bigger and bigger cars, more and more tinsel and useless consumption, more and more glorification of killing of defenseless animals for pleasure- hunting and fishing ?
But the answer , while not immediate, is simple.
We have to adjust to a world where the climate is warming rapidly- first by accepting that infinite ‘growth’ on a finite world is just plain stupidity. We need to rapidly traverse to global no-growth economies.
We need to try and reverse our rapid destruction of nature around us- encourage insect, bird and other non human populations to rebuild in the face of a rapidly warming world- create new perpetual habitats for other species, stop the chemical spraying, return habitats to their natural states as much and as quickly as possible .. and most importantly, plant more indigenous forest- not for forestry- but for life!
We need to acknowledge that technology is not going to ‘save’ us from the climate crisis- in fact it is one of the significant causes of species loss and habitat destruction that is killing our planet.
We need to acknowledge that humans simply need to support nature to get back to doing its job of making this planet a living world for every remaining species here – there’s nothing fancy about it, it won’t create many new jobs, and it wont seem like ‘progress’ – but it will save us.
We need to encourage politicians to stop lying about what they intend to do about the environment and the climate. There’s no money in it from their company ‘sponsors”, and its not going to boost their fragile egos.
Saving the planet from global heating and species loss is not a side issue to any decisions any of us make. Every bit of ‘progress’ and ‘development’ we make as humans must now put the cost to the climate and species loss at the forefront of EVERY decision. In most cases, human ‘progress’ is not worth the cost to the planet.
We need to accept that we don’t need ‘more’. Teaching people how to be thankful and at peace with what they have and how to re-build their connection with nature – along with a respect for all living things.-that we don’t have a God-given right to treat other living entities as resources.
Much has been said and written about the importance of economies getting back to ‘normal’ after COVID-19 lockdowns. Recently New Zealand, has reopened normal airline connections with Australia, its second largest trading partner (after China) and a major source of tourists.
The New Zealand government’s decision to re-open air links with Australia has been partly driven by humanitarian issues of families isolated from each other across “the ditch” (the Tasman Sea), but predominantly to prevent the collapse of New Zealand’s large tourism industry.
Little has been said however, on the impact the re-invigoration of New Zealand’s tourism industry will have on climate change and biodiversity loss.
Ironically the decision to create a travel bubble with Australia coincides almost to the day of the announcement from Moana Loa in Hawaii that their instruments have for the first time measured CO2 levels at more than 420 parts per million.
As an island nation, almost all tourists into New Zealand come by plane, and often from much longer distances than Australia (which is 4,163 kilometers away, or an air travel distance of 2,587 miles.). As Atmosfair notes, the burning of kerosene for airline engines is not the only major CO2 producer from jet planes. Jet plane veils and contrails, the build-up of the greenhouse gas ozone in a sensitive atmospheric floor, and the breakdown of methane, are also major factors in increasing CO2 levels and consequent global warming.
Suzuki notes that airtravel will continue to grow rapidly until 2050. If left unchecked, they could consume a full quarter of the available carbon budget for limiting temperature rise to 1.5 C. and …The global tourism industry is responsible for eight per cent of global emissions — more than the construction industry!’ and ...The total carbon impact of a single flight is so high that avoiding just one trip can be equivalent to going (gasoline) car-free for a year.
Tourism also has a significant impact on biodiversity loss; which, even more than climate change; is the greatest risk to this planet. While some have claimed (including U.N. reports) that tourism can increase biodiversity by encouraging humanity’s awareness of the natural world, and bringing human resources to play which protect species and prevent habitat loss; the arguments are clearly specious.
Providing humans with access to our remaining pristine natural environments necessitates environmental destruction and habitat disturbance. Roads, walking tracks, platforms, toilets, helicopters, boats, water and electrical utilities and housing are just some of the methods by which habitats are degraded by tourist activities.
And that is to ignore the impact of the introduction of pollutants like human sewage, supply waste and the accidental introduction of non-native microbes, weeds, insects and animals.
It is time for us all to throw away the ‘bucket list” and learn to be more present in the here and now, and be content with what we have. Creating mini-gardens, communal gardens and re-growing natural spaces in cities can help us all to understand the world in which we live and with which we are defendant upon.
Learning to observe, respect and value the small pieces of the natural world that are all around us, and to which we are inextricably (and often unknowingly) bound.
The natural world is not something for us to ‘experience’ and take a snapshot of; it is all around us: it is part of us, it is ‘us’.
It is more than time for all governments to demand that all products and services consumed, including tourism, are clearly packaged to show the devastating impacts they have on our ever dwindling natural world via biodiversity loss and global heating.
Then we will at last, know the true costs of our consumer society.
A U.K. February 2021 report by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, entitled ‘The Economics of Biodiversity’ outlines the ‘extreme risk’ the ‘world’, is being put by not taking into account the ‘rapid depletion of the natural world’.
While the overarching intent of the paper is to be applauded in attempting to reduce species loss, the underlying assumptions outlined in the paper about humans’ relationships to the rest of this living world are, to put it mildly, grotesque.
Prof. Dasgupta’s comment that ‘Truly sustainable economic growth and development means recognising that our long-term prosperity relies on rebalancing our demand of nature’s goods and services with its capacity to supply them’, is truly bizarre.
The natural world (including the human species) does not exist to provide ‘goods and services’. This arrogant and ignorant perspective of the living world around us is the root cause of why the living planet around us, is dying. All living things on this planet exist in their own right and to construct a web of interdependent life around themselves; a web that humans have been unravelling at ever-increasing speed for the past 3000 years.
To view other living organisms as ‘good and services’ for humans, is not only to debase the sanctity of life, but also confirms our fundamental lack of understanding of how life on this planet life continues to maintain itself, and once thrived. The more humans choose some organisms as being ‘worthwhile’ ( for humans), and others not- the more we destroy the web that holds all life on this planet together.
There are many humans on this planet who have never known what it is to be connected with the living world around them – who look out their windows in the morning at the dead concrete jungle surrounding them and think this life. Who truly do think of the living world as a commodity solely for humanities’ use, and who never once consider that the view from their window would have once been a joyous riot of life- of birds, trees insects and many other animals. What humans have not known, we do not miss. The more humans become immersed in an inanimate world of concrete and tar, the more it becomes ‘normal’.
We do not comprehend what we have done to our world, and what awaits us at the end of this journey of ‘commodification’.
While the NZ Government’s decision to declare a climate emergency in New Zealand is to be applauded- currently there appear few mechanisms to achieve a carbon-neutral government by 2025. Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s touted response to have all government vehicles electric, is a case in point of the contradictions in environmental policy. There is an urgent need for all citizens to recognise the impact of product and service consumption.
While electric cars will reduce carbon emissions through vehicle exhaust pipes, the production of the required number of electric vehicles will result in further destruction of our environments- lithium mining for batteries , steel production, plastics production. to name just a few. A sleight of hand process that reduces emissions in one area and replaces it with more consumption in another- is simply deceitful and will not improve our environmental impact. Any climate “emergency planning (an ’emergency’ implies a short -term problem- this is not a short-term issue) must also address the collateral bio-diversity loss that is occurring in New Zealand and everywhere in the world.
We are replacing living entities with dead inert matter at a rapidly increasing rate- a recipe not just for an emergency, but a planetary disaster.
While moving to a steady state economy is the only plausible response to the disaster rapidly unfolding on our little plant; current levers of power and influence globally and in New Zealand clearly will not allow that to happen in the short -term.
Consequently , rather than moving gently and steadily to a slow-down and cessation of human ‘growth’ , we are rushing headlong and ever faster towards the precipice of environmental catastrophe, before we fall over…and reach ‘steady-state’ in a way that will cause huge immediate human and other species’ suffering and death.
To hopefully avoid that precipitous fall, I would suggest a measure that will in a relatively short time , allow all members of New Zealand society to appreciate we cannot continue this headlong dash to oblivion.
A requirement that all animate and non-animate goods and services in New Zealand carry a warning label which indicates how much the product has impacted on both climate change ( positive or negative) but also ( and more crucially) biodiversity. The labeling could be something similar to cigarette warning labels and provide an opportunity for purchasers to be aware of the environmental impact of their purchase, to compare goods’ environmental impact and to encourage producers to reduce their environmental footprint..
Over time this labeling would also provide an opportunity for government to additionally tax those products and services that were high in environmental impact, once public support had reached an acceptable level.
From there, the public debate on how to implement a sustainable steady state economy could proceed.
As you will be well aware, as you see the data continue to pile in at an ever increasing rate on global warming and bio-diversity loss , we now have little time and opportunity to change our trajectory.
The response to my email from New Zealand’s Ministry of the Environment courteously noted my suggestions, but declined to support it,noting that there were some unnamed private New Zealand companies interested in such an idea.
Subsequently my daughter has suggested that there would be web companies out there who could develop an app which could provide information online for ‘consumers’ on the relative carbon footprint and impact on biodiversity of products being sold.
Over the last few months (May, June, July 2020) we have seen increasing numbers of media articles lambasting the Chinese and Russian governments for various supposed or presumed crimes. In almost every case of these articles – little or nothing has been presented to argue an alternative view of this anti-Sino-Russian agenda ( which one would suppose to be one of the virtues of a ‘free” press).
We are told that the Chinese or Russians are ‘highly likely’ to have done this or that, often purely based on ‘opensource’ material- i.e. online authors with a variety of axes to grind about Russia or China, and who invariably use speculation , innuendo or simply falsehoods, to explain their prejudices and their sponsors.
Along with other U.K. media, The Guardian, once a British left-wing newspaper, now continually trots out anti-Russian propaganda, with the latest most absurd article being its allegation that Russian hackers had stolen information about a COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University. The newspaper reports failed to mention however that the Russian government had in fact previously purchased the vaccine information, so was somewhat unlikely to have also stolen it.
The fictions about Russian involvement in the tawdry Skripal affair and the subsequent death of Dawn Sturgess have been meticulously pulled apart by Craig Murray and others and shown to not only be implausible, but impossible. However as Craig Murray reminds us, simply to argue that the Russian’s were highly unlikely to have been responsible for what happened to Sturgess or the Skripals, does not mean that the Russian government, like most large state agencies around the world- does not engage in illegal international activities.
It should be clear however that the ongoing farcical campaign against President Putin by the Western press, relates less to any real international Russian activities that breach “international norms”-and rather more to do with the annoying habit of the Putin administration of blocking ongoing foreign access to Russia’s state assets, which under President Yeltsin were appropriated by so-called Russian oligarchs and siphoned off through bank accounts managed via the City of London. Now in dire economic circumstances because of Brexit and COVID-9 lockdown, the British government is desperate to regain access to that little gold-mine.
Similarly with the U.S. economy in free-fall, the Americans are desperate to halt the rise of China. China is fast becoming a world leader on the economic and technological innovation front, and with largely comprehensive and safe response to COVID19, appears to have weathered much of the resultant economic storm from lockdown. In contrast, both the U.S. and the U.K. have demonstrated staggering levels of stupidity and incompetence in their response to the virus, which will mean ongoing risks to their economies for years to come.
Along with attacks on Russian and Chinese economic initiatives, we see ongoing American and U.K. attacks on Chinese and Russian vulnerabilities. In China those attacks focus on the Uighur separatist and jihadist concerns ( funded and trained in Syria by the Turks, the Saudis and Western intelligence ‘interests”) and the subsequent Chinese government crackdown on the Uighur population, and also on the Chinese response to sometimes violent demonstrations by young Chinese people in Hong Kong – which again have been supported in their battle for a fictitious Free Hong Kong (something that their former British colonial overseers only appeared to promote in the last few years of the colony once it become clear that HK was going to be returned to Chinese government rule) The waving of American and British flags, singing the Star Spangled Banner and the calls for the “Han Chinese’ to stay out of HK by Chinese Han HK protesters, only highlighted the absurdity of the issues they were demanding. Hong Kong could not survive a year without their economic lifeline to the mainland.
There is no doubt that the Chinese government will be ruthless in its crackdown on dissent, but we should not forget how ruthless both the Americans and the British have been in their exploitation of “the coloured races’ over the last 100 years; From the use of Hong Kong to funnel opium to addicts on the mainland right up to the Japanese invasion of HK in 1941 ( which was only stopped because the Japanese did not have access to the British controlled opium producers ), the atom bombs over Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the Korean genocide where millions of North Korean civilians were exterminated as American and British ( and other ‘allies’ ) bombed every town and city in North Korea, to the millions dead in Vietnam Cambodia and Laos: Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen … the list of barbarity is endless.
But, through all of this, we should note that these competing nations appear oblivious to the rapidly developing climate catastrophe, now aligned with catastrophic species loss. War and human deprivation are key drivers of the degradation of our environment; alongside the insane drive for our global populations to ‘consume’ more inanimate things whilst destroying our living world.
Sadly , real human statemanship, intelligence and vision simply does not exist in our time of greatest need.
No wonder then, that there is a desperate need for the United States to try and re-assert itself as ‘world leader’ and master of the universe in the face of governments who share proved demonstrably more agile, smarter and more compassionate to the needs of their populations. The bully-boy of the globe is under threat: from within and without. Secretary of State Pompeo therefore exemplifies perfectly what America stands for- and what it has always stood for: greed, violence and lies. The new trade alliance with the U.K. one of the desperate last gasp attempts to maintain some hegemony in the world .
In places like New Zealand and other countries high on the ‘bucket list’ for wealthy people to visit , overseas tourism has slumped dramatically since the pandemic. Tourism operators and regulators are now calling for big media campaigns to artificially promote local tourism. It does beg the question as to why our society has to rely on manipulated media -driven purposeless consumption to survive.
Tourism is one of the primary human activities which are rapidly degrading our planet till it is no longer live-able for us or any other known species. Its reliance on massive air traffic flows and consequent very high CO2 production through long-haul jet plane engines, its reliance on building non-organic infrastructure like roads, hotels, tracks through nature and many other acts of ‘progress’, in natural environments and consequent human traffic, which rapidly degrade the lives of other species we are so desperate to see, are just two of the massively environmentally destructive activities of tourism that global human populations has been sold as a ‘must-have’ over the past 30 years.
It has to stop. It will stop, but surely better it is that we plan now for job transfers to essential and non-environmentally destructive activities, before we face a new inevitable likely larger shock to our crazy economic system, and consequently even more massive human dislocation, trauma and death . Unemployment deals a savage blow to people’s sense of hope and a bright future; let alone the impact it can have on access to food and health services . We know that global environmental collapse, and consequent complete economic collapse, is going to happen unless we shift our focus to providing just the essentials for human beings and stop destroying our world for nothing.
Our bizarre and psychotic magical belief in the ‘invisible hand ‘ of capitalism over the past 100 years to create wealth and happiness for all humans ( but not other species we rely on in this world for our survival)has created this appallingly stupid and callous human centric world system we live in; where other species become ‘products’ for our consumption; where the living and beautiful natural environment that surrounds us is simply there for us to make ‘productive’ by poisoning it with pesticides and fertilizers, or sealing it over with concrete and tar; where we do not think for a moment about the massive destruction of the lives of other species we destroy every day in our quest for ‘progress’- all those animals who we now know for certain have fears and thoughts and emotions and who we so callously and cruelly inflict pain and loss on every day.
We do not need this ‘progress’ that the media and business have propagandized into our hearts and minds for so long : we can in fact live more productive and contented lives being more attuned to the living world of which we are inextricably part of- but we have to change now!
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?
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 …