Limits and Inevitability, Environmentally Speaking

                  [thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

We understand “inevitability” don’t we?  We understand “limitations” don’t we?  A parking area designed for a compact car will not accommodate a motor home.  We know this.  So, what else could we know, if we wanted to?

Let’s look at our “global parking space.” 

As populations increase, so must, and will, poverty.  As poverty becomes endemic, so will famine follow suit.  With famine will come diseases.  With disease will come the draining of drug supplies and medical expertise.  There are many “planners” and would-be scientists who deny this, of course.  Science, this great god full of magical powers can always fix whatever doesn’t work, can’t it?  Evidence?  Who needs that when we can substitute faith.

Yes, faith.  Science can grow more crops, hence more food.  Science can make potable water from salty seas and oceans.  Scientific engineering can make more accommodations within expanding cities by building higher.  So what if science and technology caused anthropomorphic climate change?  We can now apply them to fixing it, better than new.  So, goes the thinking, science is what we need more of to solve our problems of overpopulation, famine and disease.  More highrises; more GMO crops; more vaccines, and consequently more “security” and militarism to control dissidents.

Let’s ignore the giant question marks raised by the previous claims and look at what our science cannot do.

Science cannot make the earth bigger than it is; cannot create more space on it; cannot produce more arable lands: agreed?  Since we’re still adding to the exponential population growth, and exponentially taking out of the earth more natural, or raw resources, and since earth is a planet, not a cornucopia, with a limited amount of such resources available without resorting to catastrophic scientific methods to extract these resources (heard of fracking anyone?) then obviously two things are in the process of happening despite all hopes, wishes and promises to the contrary: the damage being done to earth’s inner surface infrastructure and it’s surrounding ecosphere, or biosphere if  you prefer, is irreversible, and anything on it dependent upon potable water for growth and survival has already reached crisis point.

Yes, there are places where they are growing forests at the edge of the desert.  I’m not asking where the water to keep those trees alive comes from.  I’m wondering out loud if such efforts should be considered to be realistic in solving man’s food and famine problems and after wondering out loud, the answer is, pretty silly when superimposed upon the overall picture.  Basically, though a feel-good effort that can be touted as a great improvement, isn’t it a lot of fiddling while Rome is burning?

Should we, as an “intelligent” (say what?) species be looking at the massive deforestation currently taking place in temperate and equatorial zones rather than counting successfully planted shrubs on the north edge of the Sahara?  Have we all become “Marie Antoinnette’s” vis-a-vis earth, patting it on the head and sincerely saying, “Just eat cake.”  Hasn’t earth heard of Ronald Reagan’s trickle down theory?  While we gouge moon craters to extract crude from tar sands; while we burn thousands of acres of trees to grow cash crops in the Amazon basin and other places, surely those potato peels and lettuce leaves from our composting will easily take up the slack.

While I seem to have broached the problem of potable water and considered the processes of desalinization of sea water, is it politically correct to wonder, again out loud, just exactly what is being done with the salt being extracted?  If it’s dumped back in the ocean, will that not increase the salt content, endangering sea life in the area of the dumping before currents spread the salt more or less evenly again?  With enough extraction, will that not cause a global rise in salinization?  We could rationalize that it will be a “long time” before a deadly level of salinity accumulates, but are we going there?  The Dead Sea, also known in Arabic as the Salt Sea, has a level of salinity 9 times the norm.  Great for swimming on, but it’s essentially dead, devoid of plants and fish.  While it is rapidly drying up, is it trying to tell us something?

If the salt is being spread upon the ground, there is an old belief about salting the earth, and quote from Wikipedia: “Salting the earth, or sowing with salt, is the ritual of spreading salt on conquered cities to symbolize a curse on their re-inhabitation.[1][2] It originated as a symbolic practice in the ancient Near East and became a well-established folkloric motif in the Middle Ages.[3] Although concentrated salt is toxic to most crops, there is no evidence that sufficient salt has been applied to render large tracts of land unusable.”

An interesting closing observation, to which it is more than tempting to add… “yet.”  Food for thought?  We exist, live, survive perhaps, on a finite planet, within a finite environment.  We can throw as much “science” at this ball of polluted and disappearing potable water, thinning sub-soil, sand, rock and molten iron and whatever else it may contain as we desire, or can muster, but “science” and “technology” aren’t bottomless sources of magic.  Every scientific/technological discovery or improvement has a material cost paid for by the world we live on, a cost that “greed-capitalism” has never allowed to be factored in its cost analyses.

More than interestingly, as a global civilization made up of a bunch of nation states, we are all indebted to some kind of black hole we can only sink deeper into.  For the USA, the stats are, $20 trillions for its governing apparatus, combined with $62 trillions of corporate and personal debt.  Grand total: $82 trillions.  That’s a loud “ouch” for anyone who can partially comprehend such numbers.  The “richest and most powerful” country in the world has by far the most per-capita debt.  What interests me in this is, how much “in debt” to the supporting environment is man’s earth in its current state of pillaging, raping and despoiling of its natural resources?

Make no mistake about this: there is a massive natural debt accumulated since the European-based empires set out a-conquering and pillaging the earth.  The momentum has only increased exponentially over the years and has reached an untenable, unsustainable, rate of “borrowing.”  Much of that borrowing became environmental pollution (smoke and smog, spills, garbage dumps, paving, cementing, and holding it all together, wars, wars, and more wars.)  This in turn has become man-made climate change.

Have we reached the point of no return?  Oh yes, as a civilization, we definitely have.  That is why the general thinking has become one of dumb acceptance.  If we can’t turn it around, why worry?  Be happy!

Instead of closing on this “happy” note, let’s introduce a question: logically speaking,  what kind of “tour de force” would it take to stop the pillaging and repay the debt we owe the earth, a collective debt that is about to all but destroy us?  Could we envisage such a global sacrifice in order to set in motion a livable future for those who come after us?  How would we go about this assuming we cannot use any previous method known to have NOT worked?

 

17 thoughts on “Limits and Inevitability, Environmentally Speaking

  1. NEELAM

    Poignant truths expressed with brutal honesty. The U.S. public don’t seem to understand if they keep on operating the economic system as they do now , the future generations would face serious energy crisis. Why they had not geared the science to implement reforestation effectively and work up the way to garner energy from sustainable and renewable sources? And yes , national debt would cause the economic system to collapse , thus impoverish millions.

    Reply
  2. franklparker

    People on the political left will tell you the problem is not insufficiency but poor distribution that is the cause of our ills. They look at the wasteful consumption of the comparatively well off and believe that, if a way could be found to halt that, there would be enough to go round and solve the health/housing/malnutrition crises that plague the poorest in all societies. They overlook the reality that the poor want to emulate the wasteful consumption of the rest. It is those we categorise as ‘middle class’ who indulge most in wasteful consumption. The seriously wealthy are cleverer than that – it’s how they or their ancestors became wealthy in the first place.
    That is not to say that the wealthy, as a class, do not encourage the wasteful consumption of the ‘middle classes’ in their pursuit of profits.
    Like you, I doubt the ability of anyone to bring about the necessary culture change before we are smitten by the greatest catastrophe the human race has seen. Politicians of all stripes follow the mantra that wasteful consumption, when taxed, facilitates the state provision of basic needs. I’m old enough to remember the real austerity experienced in Britain and the rest of Europe in the aftermath of WWII. Then, resources were concentrated upon the provision of basic necessities, luxury goods were strictly rationed. We need to find a way to popularise such a strategy. My hope would be that, with everyone’s basic needs met, the urge to procreate would be reduced and the population might stabilise.
    Prophilactics – yes! (Voluntary) Abortion – yes! IVF – definitely not!

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      You’re right, Frank. I gave up on the concept of more equitable distribution of “wealth” as any sort of long-term solution when I got old enough, and wise enough, to understand more of human nature. Human nature is an insatiable beast that only knows one word: “More!” Being raised in the open north country I saw how animal populations followed predictable cycles of “boom and bust” and their interconnectedness. More mice and snowshoe hares, more coyotes the next year. Then the mice and hare population would all but vanish, and shortly thereafter so did the coyotes. Not so with people. Your conclusion strategy is one that has the best chance of succeeding – but we still need to bring our overall population down to below the 1.5 billion worldwide to avoid disaster. Scary, but necessary. Either we do it voluntarily, or the planet will force it on us.

      Reply
  3. Woebegone but Hopeful

    Irrefutable Sha’ Tara.
    The planet has a great capacity for absorbing and adapting to catastrophic changes, and Life carries on.
    Just to clarify there, ‘Life’ carries on, that doesn’t mean ‘Humanity’ carries on. We may well be our own extinction event; that’s how it works. No matter how much ‘phony’ wealth you create by various exploitative means The Planet will have the final say.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      You’re so right. So far it seems we’ve been expecting the planet itself to adapt to our needs and greed, and if it refuses, it seems we believe we can enslave it and force it to “perform” for us. That isn’t going to happen.

      Reply
      1. Woebegone but Hopeful

        I know I shouldn’t because this will arrogance will involve the misery and deaths of millions upon millions, but sometimes I just have to laugh at these oafs who think they can ‘Cnute’ the problem (which historically he did not; if he did any such thing it was to slap down his sycophants and prove Nature was stronger than he was- very Nordic)

  4. Rosaliene Bacchus

    Well said, Sha’Tara. I agree when you say that “Every scientific/technological discovery or improvement has a material cost paid for by the world we live on, a cost that “greed-capitalism” has never allowed to be factored in its cost analyses.” To do so would substantially reduce their profits.

    To believe that our science and technology will save the day is also fraught with dangers, as you’ve pointed out with desalinization of sea water. All of Earth’s operational systems are so interconnected that fiddling with one area throws something else in disarray.

    The transformation required for the survival of our species will demand a great societal shift and the reorganization of our living spaces. Our urban centers will have to become self-sufficient in their water supply, food and energy production. As Frank mentions in his comment, population control will have to be addressed.

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Rosaliene. If the people of earth are to demonstrate “real” intelligence, i.e., if they are to save themselves and their species, they will have to learn to live as if it mattered, no longer taking things for granted, or just taking. They will have to tailor their lifestyle to self-sustaining methodologies. Hunter-gatherer societies had simpler choices since they could never exceed what their environment dictated. Science and technology, however we got there (and that is a serious question in itself) allowed us to violate the natural rule of sustainability.
      Should we now expect that the means of self-destruction could be used to prevent it from happening?
      Your statement: ” Our urban centers will have to become self-sufficient in their water supply, food, and energy production.” is critically astute! In a vision of a possible future a thousand years hence (in the year 3000 CE) that is what the people of earth finally accomplished. Their major (and only) cities have become “arcologies” completely self-sustaining and cut off from the planet’s ecology. They aren’t utopias but a far cry evolved from what we see today.

      Reply
  5. Lily Von Valley

    I find modern views of sustainability and self sufficiency misleading. Both are highly dangerous to natural progression and overall growths – Eg., in a given zone, 10 fruit yielding trees died triggering a tweaking in mortality rates, an equal sum….!
    The theory is great, the practice complex, as ever it is in the wrong hands…’Sustainability’ and ‘self sufficiency’ reminds me of the phrase ‘diversity’, great on the surface and full of promise and hope. Sustainability is for minorities not the majorities.

    On artificial tress, just the other day, I was trying hard to remember if I had heard birds when visiting Dubai and Bahram back then; I couldn’t recall their twitter, though the cities had some sort of artificial beauty that I did not like and were soulless, unlike Nature….

    It makes no sense killing earth and pretending to save it, they would have stopped polluting, depleting and tearing it apart if that is what they wanted!

    Reply
    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      “They” need to accomplish two things from one move: make a profit and fool all of the people. When a politician, or any other self-serving (i.e., making way too much money) turkey opens it’s mouth, it isn’t to gobble, it’s to lie. We live immersed in BS, lies, conspiracies (my fingers types “constipacies, and maybe my finger know more than I do since we’re speaking of the status quo!), false flags, secrecy and hyper security – al things pointing to a collapsing regime. Either that or it’s finally shedding its democratic skin and showing its real fascist nature. We’re in for the final burn, only we’re not just too sure when that will be. The dragon’ smoke can be seen and its foul breath felt, but it hasn’t yet fully emerged from its cave.

      Reply
  6. Autumn Cote

    Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to WriterBeat.com? There is no fee, I’m simply trying to add mofre content diversity for our community. I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. If “OK” please let me know via email.

    Autumn
    AutumnCote@WriterBeat.com

    Reply

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