According to Earth System scientists, the Earth has entered a new geological epoch that will be less stable and less hospitable to human life.
A timely article but one that I do not think will change the minds of those who continue to blame all humanity. I do not know how many times it was pointed out here by the readers that countries with much greater populations consume less in the way of resources then the wealthy countries of the OECD and that OVERconsumption by the few is the culprit here.
The economic system called Capitalism encourages that overconsumption as it premised on “throwing stuff away”. It also encourages accumulation of ‘stuff’ as a measurement of “success”.
My choice of one of the most imporant thinkers in the world is the Frenchman, Bruno Latour. His books can be found in the library in anthropology, sociology, science studies, philosophy and possibly economics.
One of his long term projects it the anthropology of the modern. His 1991 book “We Have Never Been Modern” notes that modern man has been walking backwards, not knowing where we are going, but self sure that we are not primitive.
The link below is Bruno’s invited address to the American Anthropological Association last December. Because of the anthropocene, anthropology is now at the center of all disciplines.
Along similar vein of critique, its good to see the Baseline Scenario (@ Medium) peruse some interdisciplinary data on weather modification:
“The claim that technology can solve any problem is the high point of Act One of a Greek tragedy — and we know how Greek tragedies end.”
I don’t disagree about Capitalism, but I believe the real problem is the very core of civilization. As long as our continued way of existence requires the importation of food and anything else we deem necessary for our survival (and for which we will go to war for, if we cannot buy or beg) - we are headed to the same ending. The epoch that follows the anthropocene will be the thanatocene.
Check Derrick Jensen out at:
new users can’t post links. Must be the number of posts, not how long I’ve been registered.
It may not be wrong to cut down a tree to make a chair - preferably several chairs - but it would be better to use trees that have fallen or were felled by storms. And it becomes wrong when multinational corporations clear cut forests to make a gadzillion chairs so consumers can have a greater “choice” of styles, or buy more than they need. The massification of any consumption is at fault here.
As for OECD vs “emerging” economies: are there any reliable statistics on how much of the environmental destruction wrought in 3rd world countries and the waste of resources used in manufacturing for mass markets plus the waste these industries generate - how much is actually coming from multinationals or foreign-owned corporations?
Having asked that, I come clean and line up with the sceptics who see the ecocidal maniacs who govern most of the BRICS’s economies and those of the G 20, and cannot accept that they are any more than accomplices in the murder of the planet.
Countries that many of us want to see succeed in their social projects join the band of planet- killers: Ecuador, tied down with billions in loans from China, is forced to open up the Amazon to more fossil fuel extraction; Venezuela the same with the Orinoco Basin; Nicaragua is now committed to having China and Russia build a new canal, which will cause huge environmental damage. Nowhere is safe from the predators.
Of course we won’t blame the dispossessed, the landless, the slumdwellers, the conscious middle classes trying to do the right thing, but in the end it is precisely those who have been deprived of the possibility of living in a healthy relationship with the land and the water are going to be generating more plastic from the cheap crap they’re forced to buy and having nowhere safe to dump it, using more toxic materials, stripping more forests for fuel, etc etc. No one has really calculated the net cost to the planet of all the damage that the 3 billion who are given little or no choice are causing.
Proportionately the developed world still bears most of the responsibility, however.
Your mom sounds like a wise woman. To carry her arguement further…what if the person who cut down the chair planted the tree for that very purpose?
To those that argue that humanity is a plague I would ask… “So, it would be better with less humans?”. When they answer in the affirmative, “Great! Why don’t we start with you? Here’s a rope and there’s a tree…”
“Recently, some critics have charged that the “Anthropocene narrative” blames humanity as a whole for these changes, ignoring major differences in the nature and extent of environmental change caused by different groups of people.”
Very refreshing to see other thinking persons/writers/journalists/researchers noticing what I have been pointing out for many years: that the deeds of a few are generalized to the whole when the sociopathic acts of the dominator sect are not generalized to falsely indicate the WHOLE of human nature.
Many fine insights in this article.
Apples and oranges, Tom. Odd that you’d chide Mr. Hedges when he just spent a week working on a latest piece showing kudos to Marx. You’re one of the forum’s card carrying Marxists, after all.
You should read what Vandana Shiva says about small farmers… women peasant farmers all over the world whose soil-regenerating farming methods are being essentially nullified by Monsanto’s increasing control over seed-stocks and food, in general.
That reminds me of the Bob Dylan line “Nice car to drive after a war”, where he imagines himself (or someone) as the sole survivor after an atomic war, where he can just hop in a Cadillac and drive off. It’s all the other bastards that deserve to die.
Humanity is not to blame. Nature limits resource hoarding by only allowing an organism to keep that which it can personally defend. Some insects are different in this respect, but they all work for the good of the colony, not at its expense. T
he invention of money allowed humans to hoard resources indefinitely. To pay others to defend and expand ones’ hoard with all the wars, crimes, impoverishment, pain and suffering that concentrating wealth and power bring about.
“Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws”. Mayer Amschel Rothschild.
Another intra-disciplinary pillow fight. There’s fundamental realities underlying these differences, as SuspiraDeProfundis, theoldgoat, Siouxrose11 and others have seen in a flash. It’s always amazing to observe a similar rationality seen in a barroom also occurring in academia and scientific domains. A minority of the population exercise the majority of energy usage and resources. Full Stop. It’s not all that surprising that they also have twice the rates of overweight and obesity in their populations than in the rest of the planet.
The whole idea can be stated in the little expression: “The law will jail the man or woman who steals the goose from off the common but leave the greater villain loose who steals the common from the goose.” Encompassed in that phrase are the implied lies and delusions that ignore fundamental realities. The Enlightenment elucidated a basic truism that concentrated power, in whatever form or source, is a dangerous, dangerous cancer. If it clearly can’t be justified, not asserted but justified, then it must be removed. Dismantled. Dissolved from existence. Yet virtually the opposite is what we have. Until we make efforts to correct that reality we can expect no dearth of pillow fights.
1 billion poor people producing 1 ton of CO2 per year have exactly the same effect as 100 million better-off people producing 10 tons of CO2 per year. The argument in the the piece seems to be exactly the arguments that China and India, both ancient civilisations who have for 5000 years lit fires and chopped down trees and are now well-developed industrial nations, use to escape their collective responsibility for adding to atmospheric CO2. There may be 900 million poor people in China and 900 million poor people in India but there are two USAs in addition in those countries in terms of middle class consumers. These consumers enjoy a CO2 subsidy from their poor when it comes to per capita calculations of CO2 produced per person.
Fiddling around assigning blame to this or that minority is simply fiddling whilst the planet burns. We need a collective response.
Placing the Blame
for Ed Werstein
It wasn’t me
and I doubt it was you
that failed the next generation –
I didn’t cut down the forests,
poison the streams or
acidfy the seas
It wasn’t me
that plundered and destroyed the earth
I didn’t invade, destroy
rape or enslave nations and I doubt
you did either
It was the bastards we worked for because
we had to. It was
the greedy maniacal Boss State
we both called out by name
marching in sun wind and rain, despite
epithets, threats and real
I’m not accepting the blame
It wasn’t my doing and it isn’t yours
The guilt is not ours we who’ve spent
our lives raging against the greatest criminal system
the world has yet to see
but like the soldiers fragging deadly misleadership
and in defense of life and sanity
Humans aren’t the only species on Earth, they just act like it.
Always blaming the problems of human culture on the few is just like saying it’s just “those few bad apples” when referring to rampant police abuse of the law or the sins of the military.
Accepting responsibility for crimes against nature has never been the strong suit of the human species.
The grand illusion of human “superiority” long ago opened the door to sexism, racism, etc., and human ego still prevents us from seeing ourselves for what we really are…the most self-serving, egoistic and destructive species ever…