End of ecosystems required for human habitat upon us, not many ways to sustain global ecology left
Posted 25 July 2011, by Dr. Glen Barry (Ecological Internet), EcoEarth, ecoearth.info
Ever since the human family embraced a growth based mentality and obsequious faith in liberal economics, we have witnessed a series of bubbles. The most recent boom-bust cycle has been the still unresolved financial and mortgage bubbles, but bubbles go as far back as the Dutch tulip mania of 1637. Exuberant yet clearly unsustainable growth, or inversely destruction, appears to be inherent to industrial, speculative, and growth obsessed capitalism. Bubbles represent the human proclivity for greed, to grow too fast, overshooting demand, while often exhausting key resources.
Global ecology, the biggest bubble of all, is now collapsing and will soon burst. Voracious economic and human growth have raged for three centuries upon the back of dismantling ecosystems globally. Humanity’s economic outputs have been over-valued relative to the ecologically mediated resources incautiously razed for their production. Earth’s carrying capacity – meaning ecology’s finite ability to provide ecosystem services and absorb pollution – has been surpassed. Having grown beyond what Earth can bear, the human family is said to be in “overshoot”, which can only lead to collapse.
Earth is a living being and like all life can die. Earth is dying now as virus-like humanity destroys its host’s ecosystem organs. Every day we scrape Earth of its plants and animals, dig and drill into toxic “resources” not meant to be unearthed, and crap our wastes into air, land and water. Systems biology tells us an exponentially growing system in positive feedback – such as the super-sized economy feasting upon finite and precious global ecology – always eventually destroys itself. This is particularly so given perilous lag times of many ecosystem processes and losses.
The ecological systems underlying human existence are beginning to burst like bubbles. Virtually every type of ecosystem and their output – fish, food, water, air, climate, forests, land, wetlands, soil, etc – are now collapsing locally and regionally. We are witnessing this steady biological impoverishment, of virtually every life-giving ecosystem, aggregate to the whole biosphere – the thin mantle of life surrounding an otherwise lifeless Earth. When speaking of a biosphere bubble burst it is accurate to say Earth is dying. And that it need not be that way, if only we were able to change to maintain ecosystems that foster all human and life’s being.
Ecology has provided a constant stream of services to humanity and other life, making Earth habitable, for what seems like eternity. Food offers one illustrative example of humanity’s utter dependence upon ecology: sun, water, soil, climate, seeds and healthy agro-ecological systems are where food comes from – not grocery stores and mini-marts. That we need air, water, soil and other ecosystems are demonstrable truths – unlike beliefs in unknowable ancient messiahs, which have guided so much of Earth ecology’s destruction.
Industrial capitalism is dependent upon destroying ecosystems as resources for temporary increases in the well-being of some. While climate change is one of several global ecosystems that are collapsing due to human over-use, it is important to remember there are other collapsing ecological systems – including soil, water, forest, wetland, nitrogen, ocean, toxic, ecosystem, poverty, food and others – that singly and together threaten continued human and ecological being. It is these potentially cumulative impacts of several assaults upon key global ecosystems that are most problematic and potentially chaotic. And it’s not even done fairly, as 2.5 billion live on under $2 a day.
The industrial growth machine’s rampant misuse of inappropriate technology to rip apart Earth’s life-support systems for endless frivolous wants by some as others starve and eke out a living must yield to some basic truths. If we are to sustain the required ecosystem habitats necessary, we cannot cut and burn them simultaneously, or multiply to such numbers that we overwhelm them. If you’ve ever seen an over-grazed pasture you know what over-population does to a limited land and resource base – human population must be urgently and humanely reduced.
Hubristic faith in technological solutions to Earth being beyond its carrying capacity is fanatical madness. Continued technological reliance to “solve” Earth’s ecological carrying capacity problem will only inflate the bubble further and result in a bigger bursting, and less remnants from which to try to reconstitute an ecologically based future. Inane techno-optimism such as geo-engineering is ecocide right up to the end – pushing Earth to the wall, raping her, before killing her. It is far preferable to begin to adjust human demands upon ecology to reasonable limits. Not only is ecology truth, and you cannot eat money, but collapsing ecosystems are not substitutable with technology.
What to do? We need knowledge based solutions to sustaining global ecology that are also just, equitable and enhance human dignity – not superstitious, illogical, greedy, and ignorant responses of god’s self-chosen ruling elites.
It is too late to stop the global ecology bubble from bursting. Yet a short window exists, perhaps, to lessen the impact of the ecology bubble burst, and provide for some manner of decent existence and potential for restoration and regeneration of a new human/nature project post-collapse. But if we continue to do nothing, or next to nothing, the cumulative impacts of global ecological collapse will intensify and prove to be unrecoverable, unless met with opposing force to end the ecocidal activities surpassing ecology’s limits.
It is time for us to return to the land, air, water and oceans and fight for their and our protection and restoration. Simply we must embrace ecological restoration, ecosystem protection, industrial power down, escalating protest and a people’s power Earth Revolution. For continued shared survival the human family must protect and restore natural ecosystems as the keystone response to biodiversity, ecosystem, climate, food, water, poverty and rights crises. Few are doing so as rigorously as is necessary.
Both the perpetrators and greenwashers of ecosystem destruction must be confronted with a wave of people power protests for ecologically sufficient policies like ending primary forest logging, fossil fuels and industrial agriculture. Existing non-violent, direct action protest is fine and must be enlarged, though it has not yet, nor is it likely to be, scaled to an extent able to win on its own. We will need to further intensify our efforts to use the wide myriad of civil and uncivil disobedience tactics known that disrupt ecocide. And if these appeals are not responded to affirmatively after 40 years of stonewalling, we may need to escalate tactics to sabotage, carefully targeted insurgency, and as a last resort, guerrilla warfare.
We face a planetary ecological emergency. Misery and premature death from ecological collapse is all our fates unless we together and all at once resist ecocide. If we all rush and dismantle a coal mine or old forest logging operation, and when asked who did, we respond we all did, we will have won. To speak of sustaining ecology while pursuing anything less than the destruction and overthrow of the industrial growth machine is greenwash and subject itself to being destroyed. The only hope for surviving and regenerating from ecology’s burst bubble is to stop destroying ecosystems and change how we live – including more sustainability, equity and justice.
Maybe people aren’t ready for what I have to say, but I am going to keep saying it because it is ecology truth vital for shared human and all life’s survival. At times it is hard to be heard because I and my organization Ecological Internet refuse to sugar coat our message as we take on difficult issues with ecological science based diagnoses and recommendations. In a world of so much hurt, pain and illness; it is outrageous to futilely cling to an industrial consumer way of living that destroys ecology, people and all that is good and necessary to simply live. Do not wait for others to heal yourself or your relationship with Earth. You have to start now and work harder at both, doing what your conscience tells you is necessary, and taking full responsibility for doing so.