Previously published at CounterPunch.org on 30 October 2015 Reproduced with permission.
The word is in from the wildlife biologists.
Say goodbye in North America to the gray wolf, the cougar, the grizzly bear. They are destined for extinction sometime in the next 40 years. Say goodbye to the Red wolf and the Mexican wolf and the Florida panther. Gone the jaguar, the ocelot, the wood bison, the buffalo, the California condor, the North Atlantic right whale, the Stellar sea lion, the hammerhead shark, the leatherback sea turtle. That’s just North America.
Worldwide, the largest and most charismatic animals, the last of the megafauna, our most ecologically important predators and big ungulates, the wildest wild things, will be the first to go in the anthropogenic extinction event of the Holocene Era. The tiger and leopard and the elephant and lion in Africa and Asia. The primates, the great apes, our wild cousins. The polar bears in the Arctic Sea. The shark and killer whale in every ocean.
“Extinction is now proceeding thousands of times faster than the production of new species,” biologist E.O. Wilson writes. Between 30 and 50 percent of all known species are expected to go extinct by 2050, if current trends hold. There are five other mass extinction events in the geologic record, stretching back 500 million years. But none were the result of a single species’ overreach.
I’ve found conversation with my biologist sources to be terribly dispiriting. The conversation goes like this: Homo sapiens are out of control, a bacteria boiling in the petri dish; the more of us, demanding more resources, means less space for every other life form; the solution is less of us, consuming fewer resources, but that isn’t happening. It can’t happen. Our economic system, industrial consumer capitalism, requires constant growth, more people buying more things. “I will go so far as to say [that] capitalism itself may be dependent on a growing population,” writes billionaire capitalist blogger Bill Gross, Forbes magazine’s Bond King. “Our modern era of capitalism over the past several centuries has never known a period of time in which population declined or grew less than 1% a year.” Growth for growth’s sake, what Edward Abbey called the ideology of the cancer cell. Continue reading
Quote for the day:
While not “silver bullets” able to guarantee global sustainability on their own,
near term population stabilization and subsequent consolidations are fundamental bio-physical steps in the global behavior change required to move towards a more sustainable future — and perhaps even more importantly,
acquiescence and acceptance of the necessity of these steps is a crucial mental turning point,
wherein a person moves
from allegiance to human-exceptionalism and human-entitlement
to a more humble and self-modest conception of human existence within the planetary whole,
wherein the primary driver of thinking is no longer centered on humans and our needs and wants, but rather is conscious of the entire eco-sphere and the rights of all the species that constitute it to exist.
—Joe Bish, Senior Population Communications Associate, Population Media Center, http://www.populationmedia.org/
Context: Dot Earth blog at the New York Times
The U. S. military, always alert to threats facing our country, has been studying the alterations we humans are making to the biosphere, our life-support system. Military leaders have concluded what I have been saying for some time: The threats to our future from global warming and other serious human alterations of the planet are far more dangerous than any terrorist threat.
“This March, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, the commander of the United States Pacific Command, told security and foreign policy specialists in Cambridge, Mass., that global climate change was the greatest threat the United States faced — more dangerous than terrorism, Chinese hackers and North Korean nuclear missiles. Upheaval from increased temperatures, rising seas and radical destabilization ‘is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen…” he said, ‘that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’
“Locklear’s not alone. Tom Donilon, the national security adviser,said much the same thing in April, speaking to an audience at Columbia’s new Center on Global Energy Policy. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the Senate in March that ‘Extreme weather events (floods, droughts, heat waves) will increasingly disrupt food and energy markets, exacerbating state weakness, forcing human migrations, and triggering riots, civil disobedience, and vandalism.’ “
So wrote Roy Scranton, U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, in an eloquent statement, recently published in the New York Times. Even the World Bank, no bastion of liberal do-goodism, presented a surprisingly dour assessment of the human predicament in its June 2013 report, “Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience.” Jim Young Kim, President of the World Bank Group, described the conclusions in a 4 minute YouTube video. Continue reading
In June 2012, “Welcome to the Anthropocene”—a film about the state of the planet—opened the UN’s Rio+20 summit on sustainable development. The summit was the largest UN meeting to date.
A 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes.
HD stills available by clicking here.
For me, the music doesn’t start immediately. Give it a few seconds if you don’t hear it when the animation begins. This is a beautiful presentation of the animation with music, but doesn’t have text or narration to explain what you are seeing.
Fortunately, a narrated version, complete with animated population growth chart, is also available, at the link below.