Addiction to Fossil Fuels, Capitalism, Climate Change, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Consumerism, Corporate State, Eco-Apocalypse, Ecological Overshoot, Environmental Collapse, Extinction of Man, Inverted Totalitarianism, Mass Die Off, Overpopulation, Social Justice, unwashed public, Wall Street Fraud, War for Profit
Archeologists tell us that, even before the Neolithic Era, man used fire to shape the distribution of flora and fauna in local environments. After several hundred thousand years of evolving a greater capacity for high level thinking and social networking, modern man has armed himself with technology giving him the ability to alter the ecosphere globally, and he has done so with devastating results. No place on the planet has escaped the effects of mankind’s activities. Isolated Arctic sea floors have even been found to have bits of plastic debris, and polar bears are becoming the most toxic creatures on Earth.
In the twilight of the Anthropocene Age, the writing on the wall has become painfully clear. The high-tech civilization modern man erected with fossil fuels will likely be undone by its own success. For about the last half million years, CO2 levels fluctuated between 180 and 300 ppm until mankind discovered an energy source that would catapult his numbers and planetary footprint into the stratosphere. CO2 and other polluting greenhouse gasses are breaching levels never before seen in human history and they continue to be spewed into the thin layer of atmosphere that is essential for life on Earth at the rate of nearly 10,000 million metric tons every year. We are the first humans to breathe air with 400 ppm CO2. The last time CO2 levels were this high was during the Pliocene Age when there was no Arctic ice, temperatures were 19°C warmer in the Arctic, average global temperatures were 2° to 3.5°C warmer, and global sea levels were 20 plus meters higher. The climate lag time has decades to catch up to what we have already done, and we’re still forcing the climate system with both feet on the gas pedal. Decades of studies and warnings by scientists have not moved the needle one iota, and unheeded warnings will still be coming as we plummet over the cliff into the mangled pile of corpses below. Living under the oncoming threat of climate chaos is a compounding stressor because it affects the security of food, water, shelter, economy, government, civilization, and the existence of the human species itself. There is no tangible enemy to conquer or sanctuary to escape to. It will turn each of us against each other and goad nations to war. Climate change is a monster of our own creation that mankind refuses to face even as its malignant presence grows stronger and stronger.
The natural carbon cycle has been blown to smithereens. Carbon sinks such as the oceans and forests appear to be reaching capacity as evidenced by the dying coral reefs and the global die-off of forests. Vegetation will cease to act as a sink at 4°C warming, according to recent research. Like a petri dish microbe which has reached the last fatal doubling of its exponential growth cycle, humans have filled the Earth to the brim and triggered the collapse of their own life support system. Over 50% of earth’s ice-free land surface is now occupied by human industry and activity — farms, crops, plantations, strip malls, city sprawl (Hooke et. al. 2012). Nonetheless hope springs eternal; some wishful thinkers say that if we stopped our fossil fuel binge cold turkey right now, then perhaps we could stabilize the damage to 2°-3.5°C warming which would be four to six times the warming the Earth has already experienced in the last century (0.5°C). Yet any prospect of pulling the plug on industrial civilization is more remote than aliens from outer space intervening to save humans from themselves. Coal plants continue to be built at a frantic pace and all the various manufacturing activities of modern-day life continue to churn along from the mass production of plastic novelty trinkets to the construction of behemoth aircraft carriers. With catastrophic damage from climate chaos already happening before our very eyes, I shudder to think what the future holds as we blissfully go about our daily lives damning future generations to a world with average global temperatures of 5°-9°C or greater.
The Earth cares no more for the selfish concerns of humans than for any other living thing which has upset the ecological balance of nature and gone extinct. It cares nothing about the profits calculated by humans with their mountaintop removal for coal, boreal forest clearance for tar sands excavation, or blowouts from deep sea drilling for oil and gas. In the deep time of geologic history, these are all the foolish endeavors of one destructive and unsustainable hominid called Homo economicus. Corporations pay to protect their privilege to pollute through political lobbying and legal bickering, but the laws of nature cannot be altered or bought off. Technology and adaption strategies are based on linear thinking and will ultimately prove to be the futile efforts of an arrogant, out-of-touch and increasingly desperate species. Nature and the laws of physics cannot be compromised by any amount of greenwashing, international ‘Earth Summits’, or eco-friendly product labels. Climate chaos and environmental destruction march onward in full technicolor display as self-serving humans continue to argue, cheat, lie, collude, deceive and stick their collective head in the sand. The victims of industrial pollution will not just be confined to the impoverished Third World, but will grow to encompass the entire human race. And the one country who proclaims itself the “shining city on a hill”, a beacon of democracy, and global leader is herding everyone down the path of climate genocide.
The ecological crisis and social justice issues are intimately intertwined and one could never be solved separately from the other. The cosmology of capitalism demands the objectification and commodification of nature as well as the appropriation and commercialization of all aspects of society. The social-ecological problem of fossil fuel dependency can be clearly seen when an energy company targets a people’s land to be used as a sacrifice zone such as with West Virginia mountaintop coal mining or fracking in Texas. Social and ecological decay will persist and worsen without adopting a way of life that respects both the integrity of the land and rights of people.
“These are sacrifice zones, areas that have been destroyed for quarterly profit. And we’re talking about environmentally destroyed, communities destroyed, human beings destroyed, families destroyed. And because there are no impediments left, these sacrifice zones are just going to spread outward.”
~ Chris Hedges
Each day that passes without a change to the status quo is another upward ratchet in the scale and strength of climate chaos. Each day passes and the same rhetoric of denial and false hope fills the airwaves, TV, and internet. Some conscientious bloggers document the worsening state of the world almost in real time, but they soon come to the realization that our fate seems to be written in stone as if we are following a script with only one ending. The super-organism of capitalist industrial civilization has no national, cultural, or environmental allegiance, and will sacrifice billions of people to keep business-as-usual going.
In a ravaged world, death will be big business.
“In horror of death, I took to the mountains – again and again I meditated on the uncertainty of the hour of death, capturing the fortress of the deathless unending nature of mind. Now all fear of death is over and done.” ~ Milarepa