Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Half Gone? And I'm Not Talking About Oil.

To understand the kinds of things we're up against, let's begin with a few facts (and sentences) lifted from the May-June Mother Jones article by Julia Whitty on the sixth mass extinction.

After a die-off -- the previous five in the past 400 million years or so each wiped out between 50 and 95 percent of all the life of the day -- it takes 10 million years before biological diversity even begins to approach the level that existed before the die-off. That's a long time!

The current causes of extinction -- "habitat degradation, overexploitation, agricultural monocultures, human-borne invasive species, human-induced climate change" -- in short, capitalism, are accelerating into the 21st century. (I use "capitalism" as shorthand for the system of production and investment based on private profits that has wildly increased world material consumption, and is often referred to euphemistically as "industrialism". Now that the Soviet Union is no longer in the picture, we need not be concerned with the ecological burden of the "state capitalist" system whereby "private profits" were in the hands of the state managers.)

Fully 40% of examined species are in danger, including 1 in 4 mammals, 1 in 8 birds, 1 in 3 amphibians, and 1 in 3 conifers and other gymnosperms. (And remember, certain "keystone species" influence and support a myriad of plants and animals. Army ants, for instance, are known to support 100 other species, from beetles to birds.)

According to E.O. Wison, (oddly enough, a great believer in the corporate enterprise) our current course will lead to the extinction of half of all plant and animal species by the year 2100. Wilson also estimates the current rate of extinction at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate. No wonder then that seven out of ten biologists believe mass extinction poses a more serious environmental problem than global warming!

Unlike other critics I cannot take solace in the fact that life will continue long after we're gone. You know, the type of "deep ecology thinker" who pines for a human-free planet or the Buddhist "sage" who revels in existential bliss. I want to do what I can to save the life we have right now.

1 comment:

sushil yadav said...

Colin Wright,

Before Industrialization humans destroyed Environment primarily for Food. After Industrialization humans are destroying Environment for Food and Consumer Goods. In response to your post on "Environmental Crisis" I want to post a part from my article which examines the impact of Consumerism and Industrialization on our Minds and Environment. Please read.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.

Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.

A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.

To read the complete article please follow any of these links :