Ambitious policies emphasizing sacrifice and preparation can yet keep the Earth from dying

EARTH MEANDERS

It is late, despair high; yet ambitious policies emphasizing sacrifice and preparation can keep the Earth from dying

Never, Ever, Ever, Ever Give Up on Gaia

A series of personal ecological essays by Dr. Glen Barry //earthmeanders.blogspot.com/
October 28, 2007

Human caused ecosystem destruction has progressed well beyond the Earth's carrying capacity -- its ability to provide goods and services, and to regenerate. Global heating is occurring at a rate and extent far exceeding expectations. There are too many people to meet basic needs for all based upon further habitat destruction for resources, much less making possible Western lifestyles. Ecological crises have progressed to the point where global ecological, economic and social upheavals are guaranteed. This is ecological fact, truth, knowledge -- it is what it is, and no value is gained by stating otherwise.

Yet it is critical that we never, ever, ever, ever give up on Gaia. There IS still time to save the Earth and allow humanity and most of her creatures to thrive indefinitely. The global family has not yet reached the point where environmental policies no longer matter. The degree of disruption that will be caused by ecological decline is being determined now. While it is unlikely serious and painful changes can be entirely avoided, much can be done now to limit the extent and permanence of ecological collapse, and resulting pain and suffering.

How quickly we stop emitting greenhouse gases; and end destruction, while preserving and restoring, natural ecosystems, will determine whether the biosphere and her ecosystems are able to avoid complete destruction. We can make it more likely, and easier, for humanity to reconstitute some sort of advanced (and hopefully more peaceful, just, equitable and sustainable) society post-collapse -- and maximize the recovery of all life.

My acknowledgement in earlier writings of my own despair, shared by many, was not meant to suggest that we should give up. As always my intention was to think freely and write truthfully, including in regard to my feelings, and by doing so help identify, pursue and achieve policies adequate to solve grave ecological crises facing my and other species.

There is much that can be done, if will and knowledge are developed and harnessed, to pursue ambitious policy responses adequate to sustain and regenerate the biosphere. These include societal policies based upon the Planet's ecological conditions and needs; such as ending coal emissions into the atmosphere, and stopping ancient forest logging and markets. Similarly, individuals are responsible for their procreation, levels of consumption and commitment to environmental sustainability.

But let me be clear, any hope for achieving just, equitable and ecologically sustainable societies depends upon embracing personal and societal sacrifice. That most environmentalists suggest we can increase population by 50%, reduce energy consumption, and continue to have it all -- with no need for sacrifice -- deeply disturbs me. This pervasive misleading self-denial hampers sufficient responses to global ecological emergencies. We shall learn to live simply, well, and within limits; or humanity and the Earth will cease to exist.

The Earth Can Die

I receive a lot of email saying do not worry about what happens to humans, the Earth's life will continue regardless. Will it, or does thinking so just provide false comfort? I believe based upon science, spirituality and intuition that the Earth is a self-regulating organism, that other than the rise of blue-green algae there has never been a planetary disturbance on the scale of human impacts upon the biosphere (and never at this rate), and that there is nothing to suggest that the Earth cannot die.

Death of the Earth may be a complete absence of life, or perhaps an unrecoverable loss of complex life, in either case the end of being. The fact that past extinction events led to further evolution of complex life does not mean it must necessarily, or can always, be so. The sheer scale and rate of concurrent liquidation of terrestrial habitat, atmospheric change, ocean and water dimnishment, and all the rest, I suggest, may well make the Earth uninhabitable for organic life. All things must die, you may say, but must it be needlessly and prematurely allowed to happen through sheer ignorance and apathy?

There is still time to pursue necessary policies to ensure the Earth and our loved ones do not pointlessly die upon our watch. However, it is not much time. And it is no longer possible to save ourselves and the Earth with cosmetic reforms and without substantial sacrifice and change. To survive the human family must learn to live simply and well without burning and cutting.

Survival of Your Family and Community Is Your Responsibility

The likelihood that the biosphere will be saved, and you and yours survive, is going to depend upon your personal preparation including living more closely with the Earth. Self-reliant, ecologically sustainable living is not synonymous with kooky survivalists. Any extended, truthful examination of the Earth and her humanity's condition makes it clear we are living beyond our means, and that a period of profound ecologically induced upheaval is nearly certain, indeed will be imminently upon us.

There is much that can be done to limit its duration and impact. There are many books that describe long established homesteading, permaculture, animal husbandry and organic gardening techniques. Tightly coupled agro-ecological systems exist that provide basic needs indefinitely within the context of operable ecosystems to which they contribute. Indeed, this is precisely what is required for sustainable lifestyles. Personally I find inspiration in early American homestead life, indigenous cultures, and the 70s back to the Earth movement.

A neo-agrarian ecologically sustainable democracy movement is the next big thing! Indications are that a family of four can produce what they need on five or so acres. Recently I read that in addition to shelter, garden and crop seeds, and a water source; that a dozen chickens and two goats provide all the protein, manure, and waste disposal systems necessary. I intend to write further on this in the future, but let me encourage you now to embrace hope, never give up, and help avoid the Earth's death by working for your own self-reliant, sustainable future.


Dr. Barry is founder and President of Ecological Internet; provider of the largest, most used environmental portals on the Internet including the Climate Ark at //www.climateark.org/ and //www.EcoEarth.Info/ . Earth Meanders is a series of ecological essays that are written entirely in his personal capacity. This essay may be reprinted granted it is properly credited to Dr. Barry and with a link to Earth Meanders. Emailed responses are public record and will be posted on the web site unless otherwise requested.



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