Tuesday, May 08, 2007

George Orwell Much?

I admit I am a bit hypersensitive to these things. I agree that we can have a detrimental affect on our planet and its ability to support us and that we ought to, for our own sakes, take care in these matters. I think this guy (and many others) goes way beyond that.

As I've said before, I consider myself an environmentalist. How can I not be, given the the things that I love?

It is partly the language this guy uses that exposes his anti-human bias, the way I see it.

It began 50,000 years ago when a relatively hairless primate stumbled out of equatorial Africa and began wiping out the megafauna of the time.
We're ugly, clumsy, and undiscriminatingly destructive. This was the point of infection.

As they advanced, the mammoth, sabre-toothed cats, cave bears, giant sloths, camels, horses, and wholly rhinos fell to their stone weapons and deliberately set fires. The extinction of all of these great mega-species is directly attributable to “primitive” human hunters.
I highly doubt this -- I think non-human induced climate change had a lot more to do with it. I think he exagerates primitive man's influence to the point of absurdity -- precisely to make his point that man is bad. Question for ya.... what fauna were wiped out when sabre-toothed cats & cave bears rose to prominence? You think none?

Some fifty millennia ago, the entire ecosystem of Australia was disrupted and transformed by humans.
And if it was, so what? People have apparently done just fine in Australia for the past 50,000 years. So unless you think there's something morally wrong with what happened... it appears to be no big deal. If you think there's something inherently moral about the state of some ecosystem at a particular point in time, we're now entering the realm of religion.

In all, some 85 percent of the mega-fauna was removed because of human intervention.
I'd like to see this backed up in some peer-reviewed papers with the other side presented. But I doubt we'll see that, especially the "other side presented" part. This is because contrary to:

This is a cataclysmic prediction, yet it is strangely absent from the world’s media. No one wants to hear about it. It’s depressing. We would rather collectively deny ecological realities.
the world's media is obsessed with telling us about it. Cataclysmic predictions sell, and everybody wants to be a messiah. People want to hear about it like they want to hear horror stories. Consider, just for the sake of argument, that pending cataclysm is not reality. I realize that it is heresy even to suggest it, but claiming it is so isn't enough for me. There have been Chicken Littles around for at least as long as we've had language. You bet I'd rather not suffer cataclysm, and I would rather not deny it if it were clear that is what we are facing. It's just not clear at all to me and I honestly don't think we are.

... the analysis of organic material in some 700 fossil eggshells laid over centuries by the enormous bird Genyornis newtoni revealed that the birds lived among an abundant array of vegetation that suddenly became very scarce. This scarcity coincides with the period of colonization of Australia by humans from Indonesia.
Things I know #4. Correlation does not mean causation. Could it possibly be that a change in climate that was unfavorable to Genyornis Newtoni was, in turn, favorable for the colonization of Australia by humans from Indonesia? Not if your underlying belief is that humans are the cause of all "evil", and extinction of species is "evil". It happened at the same time, ergo it was the cause? Given the enormity of both events in history, my money is on an external factor precipitating both events.

“It can happen anywhere at any time: Humans are a part of any ecosystem, so when you introduce people into the system, they're bound to alter it – often so rapidly that other parts of the ecosystem don't have any time to adjust. The result is extinction''
Humans are a part of any ecosystem, yet they are "introduced". Well ok, I'll play along. Any organism that is introduced to an ecosystem is bound to alter it, sometimes rapidly, and has caused other species to go extinct. This has happened over and over in the history of the planet. Again, unless there is something morally wrong about species going extinct due to the introduction of another... Now perhaps it is undesirable to us in some manner for species to become extinct, but that's another matter.

The latest reports from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List (IUCN) – a database measuring the global status of Earth's 1.5 million scientifically named species – states quite confidently that we will lose half of them by 2150.
Misha was dead right on this one. I realize he is prone to using hyperbole and ridicule (which is what makes him fun to read). But these things do, in fact, tend to get grossly over-exaggerated -- and when they don't happen as predicted, nobody retracts it. There's no accountability. These things come up all the time, every day, every year, and most of them never come about -- not because we altered our behavior, but because the premise was wrong in the first place. However, they are scary and tend to attract lots of attention and funding -- both of which people like. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List has an interest in self-perpetuation. It needs to stay relevant to survive. If they come out every day and say "Hey, everything's going all right. There's no crisis" people tend to stop paying attention to them. Which is sad, because a lot of these organizations were set up based on good intentions and did some good things, but have since developed irrational tunnel vision, and they over-state their cases more and more dramatically over time just to stay in the headlines.

Species work interdependently to develop mutually beneficial strategies that maintain and strengthen ecosystems. Every species removed diminishes the system and weakens the collective body of the biosphere.
This is nothing but religious belief. We're so conditioned to it because we hear it every day that it takes a little bit of effort and thought to come around to this... but eventually if you are familiar with the history of the planet, you can see that this is simply a point of view. I'm not saying it's a useless point of view. But it is nonetheless just a point of view.

There is only one cure, only one way of stopping this rising epidemic of extinctions. The solution requires an extraordinarily immense effort by all of human society but it is achievable.

We need to re-wild the planet. We need to “get ourselves back to the garden” as Joni Mitchell once so poetically framed it.

This is a process that will require a complete overhaul of all of humanities economic, cultural, and life style systems. Within the context of our present anthropocentric mind-set the solution is impossible. It will require a complete transformation of all human realities.

Joni Mitchell's poetry aside, I'm always suspicious of anyone who says there's only one cure, and that they're the ones who have it. And here is the littany of things that (remember, there's only one cure, so we have to do these things) we need to do.

  • We need to stop burning fossil fuels and utilize only wind, water, and solar power
  • Sea transportation should be by sail
  • Air transportation should be by solar powered blimps when air transportation is necessary.

Frankly, I'd love to find something as flexible and energy-rich as fossil fuels to replace them with, and we will some day. As a Saudi prince once said, "the stone age didn't come to an end because we ran out of stones." But people who say we should utilize only "renewable" sources have no freaking idea how much energy it takes to power their homes every day and what a pittance a windmill or a solar panel is against that. No idea at all. It all sounds nice - but if it worked, we'd be doing it already. We may find a breakthrough -- people are working on this every day. But it ain't here yet. I understand our frustration -- we'd like abundant, clean energy. However, resentment and backlash against the fossil fuel industry doesn't change the nature of the technical obstacles we face.

Now for the man's true agenda:

  • All consumption should be local
  • No food products need to be transported over hundreds of miles to market
  • If local communities need to fish the fish should be caught individually by hand.
  • Preferably vegan and vegetarian diets can be adopted.
  • We need to eliminate herds of ungulates like cows and sheep and replace them with wild ungulates like bison and caribou and allow those species to fulfill the proper roles in nature
Their proper roles. See, it is a moral issue. Since we stopped using fossil fuels and now rely solely on solar, water, and wind, large-scale agriculture is now impossible. We're back to a hand on the plow behind an ox. This means most people must farm -- grow the majority of their own food. Bad crop year? What used to happen when local, isolated agrarian populations had crops fail? People starved. In great numbers.
  • We need to restore the prey predator relationship and bring back the wolf and the bear
  • We need the large predators and ungulates, not as food, but as custodians of the land that absorbs the carbon dioxide and produces the oxygen
Yes. Bears and wolves are the proper custodians. Not humans. When we're in control, we're a virus. When bears do it, they're custodians. In fact, only we have the capability to be custodians. Bears are bears.

  • We need to remove and destroy all fences and barriers that bar wildlife from moving freely across the land.
You know, property itself is evil to socialists. Which is why you'll generally find them on this bandwagon. It is only a tool for them, though.

  • We can retain technology but within the context of Henry David Thoreau’s simple message to “simplify, simplify, simplify.”

I'm all for simplicity, relatively speaking. Simple is good. Technically speaking, stone arrowheads are technology, though. So I guess you can keep your solar-powered I-Pod (if you ever have time to listen to it), but you'll have to give up your lawn mower. You can use your push mower, but only after you've made sure that your garden is tended to and you've secured enough wild bison (since livestock is evil) to eat (which you really shouldn't because you should eat only plants) and your solar panels (which use no chemicals and produce no pollution in manufacture and I assume are provided for you free by the government -- though I don't know who builds them or transports them to you -- everybody's so busy growing their food locally and long-distance transportation is illegal.) The truth is, non-agrarian society is what allows us to come up with things like solar and wind (electrical) power. I'm hoping we're allowed to burn wood to heat our homes at least -- but using even dead wood robs insects and micro-organisms, mosses, and fungus of habitat -- not to mention the removal of organic material from the "fragile" ecosystem. Intervention, you know. If so, we can add wood cutting (using hand saws and axes, of course) to the list of things we need to get done before we can bother with working in a factory that produces solar panels and windmill generators.

  • We need an economic system that provides all people with educational, medical, security, and support systems without mass production and vast utilization of resources.
Hmmm... what economic system does that sound like to you? I wonder... I wonder....

  • This will only work within the context of a much smaller global population.
It was suggested to me that this man is, in fact, pro-human and is merely interested in our continued existence. But "we" can only do it if fewer of us "exist". And speaking of existence:

  • Who should have children? Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans.
George Orwell much? Who is going to decide who is responsible? My bet is that the author considers himself one of those very small percentage of humans and that people like him will be doing the deciding. What is the punishment for going against the mandate? Sounds to me like his world is incompatible with liberty.

  • Curing a body of cancer requires radical and invasive therapy, and therefore, curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach
Language again. We are a disease. The radical, invasive therapy for cancer is to surgically remove it or bombard it with poison of one kind or another to kill it. The "cure" is to eliminate the vast majority of us.

So here we have justified taking complete control of everyone's lives, deciding who gets to reproduce, who can have what food and where and when, what parts of the planet you are effectively allowed to live in, let alone visit, limiting our choices for energy use (thus limiting where we can live since we'll need to heat our homes). In short, he'd like to return a select few of us to a strictly agrarian society where our daily lives are once again consumed with survival AND we'll need permission to reproduce. That is the implication of all of his solutions. No-freaking-thanks.

I'm not saying we don't need to curb and control pollution. Chemical pollution of our water, land, and air are things I'm very much concerned with. But his solution is basically to cull the human population and control it from the top down (that's the only way social policy that is contrary to human nature ever "works". See... oh, every socialist experiment in the 20th century). My solution would be to use our ingeniuity to make our waste compatible with the environment that we may live and enjoy the planet. Use the brains we were naturally given so we can all live. Mine's a pro-human approach.

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