Tuesday, 3 January 2017

A Crisis of Species: How to Save the Planet

Credit: kwest/Shutterstock.com

Now it's true I have been labelled a doom and gloom merchant before. Mostly by people who don't have the fortitude and resolution to accept things as they really are and fix root cause issues.

I've known this labelling is just social pettiness and passive ostracism, but this was borne out when I moved to another, larger, more sophisticated town and I was repeatedly told I was not direct enough and to 'call things as I saw them' - which was refreshing and vindicating.

But - and some would say its a big one - everything's relative I guess and the underlying social principle - avoiding the truth to avoid uncomfortable change, is significant in the context of saving our planet.

And man our planet is screwed. We're all doomed. Its over. We're all going to die!

Nah, don't cry, its still savable - just - but if I'm concerned about our planet then seriously you should be too.

I mean really, me caring about the planet? What's that about? I'm a selfish and un-evolved arsehole at best.

Previously I just couldn't give a hoot if pressed on the subject, pass me the wine and another 100 gallons of petrol why you're at it.

I have no interest in seeing humanity survive because I didn't succumb to the biological drive to breed. In fact at the risk of triggering your ire and ostracism (further), at this point in time I'm actually doubting humanity really has what it takes or deserves to continue on as a species in any case. The term 'dumbarses' comes to mind.

But then over the last few months the facts and figures being spewed out by some pretty credible sources have made me feel sad and angry, and ashamed at being human. I used one of the facts in a previous post - 40% of species extinct in last ten years - but in the last few weeks I've read different statistics, so in this post I thought I'd just check different sources to get a more rounded view.

The post itself was prompted by a bunch of Vegans posting on Facebook about how their lifestyle requires less land to be intensively managed to support their Vegan diet. What? That's selective. If you drive a car and have a pet dog or cat - which because you're a bunch of psuedo-intellectual, starry-eyed, hippies you will - then the associated land mass required to support your lifestyle is as intensive and large as any one else's. Dumbarses. It makes me mad. Go eat a fricking steak and stop wasting our time.

Also with the celebrations of the new year still ringing in our ears and bravado-filled resolutions still resounding around the halls, considering what we can do to help save the planet once again becomes a thing we feign interest about.

Because of these things and like those Vegan-hippie-dunderheads - seriously go eat a fricking steak - I thought I'd give you my unsolicited, five cents worth of advice about how to save the planet.

First lets check out some different, more conservative sources to see what's going on with our planet.

If its a democracy your government has most likely, officially recognised 'climate change', there is no debate any more.

For instance the New Zealand government has an international policy on climate change, it has published information regarding impacts to its regions, it even has information on how specific communities need to prepare for the coming changes.

The only debate regarding this official recognition by governments is the conservative models they've used, which forecast drastic change only past the end of this century. So now the 'crazy-arsed' scientists are imploring them to consider more dynamic climate change models with forecasts of 20 to 30 years.

But these scientists are just trouble-making doom and gloom merchants I hear you say. Actually these were the same scientists who warned us about climate change in the first place. But no matter, you know best.

So heading over to NASA now because they are a conservative organisation who aren't materially invested in flying the climate change flag. What are they saying?

Well here's what they are saying: "Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities..."

Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.

Man, the sheer amount of material these guys have researched and collated is staggering, the body of evidence is breathtaking, and just look at the current level of atmospheric CO2! Once again there is no debate.

Finally lets go visit the World Wildlife Fund, in this context we would consider them a biased source of information as, at our most cynical, we would consider them as having a financially vested interest in supporting  the 'save the planet' agenda - but then again they are experts.

"Humans are behind the current rate of species extinction, which is at least 100–1,000 times higher than nature intended. WWF’s 2014 Living Planet Report found wildlife populations of vertebrate species—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish—have declined by 52 percent over the last 40 years..."

Oh shit! 52%! We're all going to die. Alarm! Alarm! Save yourselves! Women, children and dashingly handsome middle-aged bachelors first!

Unsurprisingly the WWF has screeds of information about the climate and various species, and environments. It turns out putting actual numbers or figures on extinction rates is a hard thing to do but while the facts are all there, WWF has a very positive focus and uses really small words to convey its messages, so go take a look, you should enjoy it.

Now lets get a more contemporary view from everybody's favourite fashion magazine.

Even Vogue has recognised climate change and provided a list of the 9 most endangered wilderness sites to visit in 2017.

There's a part of me concerned that people are being encouraged to place further strain on these environments because its fashionable but it really is about increasing tourism with controlled visits to help conservation efforts. Good on them all.

So there is no debate, the facts are in and verified, and the human driven impacts to the Holocene extinction and climate change are beyond doubt - and are even fashionable.

But if you think I've been a doom and gloom merchant in the past, hold on to your petticoat because my pragmatic view of what you can do to save the planet is terminally dismal.

The answer, that you can't do anything to save the planet, we're all doomed, its time to kiss your arse goodbye, is not completely accurate or helpful.

This is because, more importantly, the answer is that because of present human nature you, most likely, *won't* do anything to save the planet; not before its too late.

It's not just about reducing emissions and carbon footprints. It's not about doing your part to recycle, the time for individual action has passed. Its not about canvasing governments and organisations to change because despite our sheltered western upbringing, the 'other guys' aren't democracies and don't give a shit about the west.

It's about the fact that we are facing a crisis of species.

Edward's Dodo - as in soon we will be dead as it.

Its only by acting as a species that we will prevent the changes in our environment. This is why I wrote a whole lot of weird solutions, most not remotely related to the environment, in my previous post, listed here again because as a species we should be:
- replacing money with an alternative form of exchange
- supporting the rise of enlightened self interest
- replacing cities with the reestablishment of smaller self-sustaining, technologically interconnected social communities
- supporting and legislating the fall of bigotry and actual rise of equality
- arranging the fall of the world's remaining despots and supporting the next evolution of democracy
- developing the exchange of organised religion as our primary 'moral' compass with the establishment of scientifically based and legislatively defined personal and interpersonal standards
- ensuring a focus on equal resource distribution around the world and eradicating greed
- developing a programme to control our breeding habits - without reverting to totalitarianism
- breaking the breeder-consumer cycle

Why do we need to do these things?

Because all of them, if left unchanged, prevent humanity as a species evolving. Because we have stopped adapting and are now protecting an unsustainable lifestyle.

When a species stops adapting it goes extinct.

Without making inroads on the solutions above, the threat of uncontrolled change to our breeding and consumption-based lifestyles is too significant. That's why we've become complacent and apathetic. These are signs that we are avoiding change and having to actually and materially do something to change *how* we live. Encouraging the status quo.

This is why as a species we haven't stopped the rising temperatures to date.

But the solutions above are the things that will be necessary for us to survive as a species and to slow down, retard, and ultimately revert rising temperatures to a level sustainable for subsequent generations. We will have to evolve socially, otherwise - as a species - we just won't cut it.

There's no point half the world agreeing to make changes and there's no point in making changes unless we address the fast approaching oil, fresh water, and food shortage tipping points. We can't address these until we make a change in our current modus operandi as a species.

But then thinking and envisioning change at the level of our species is almost impossible. Its hard, what with the kids, work, relationships, money troubles, mortgages, debts... and the car needs a service... And on the surface changing as a species may seem to contradict our basic human rights. This is unacceptable - or will be until we run out of oil, water, and food, then human rights will be the last things we think about as society degrades into something like a Mad Max movie - I am the Night Rider! Oh yea!

The Night Rider R.I.P - will not be around to see the social degradation caused by likely tipping points.

But if history tells us anything its that we will go to war for resources and territory... and religion. We also have a history and culture of not doing things until something tragically bad makes us. Of not making changes and sacrifice today to make something better tomorrow.

So what do you think will happen when as humans we actually approach the tipping points?

"So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate." Theoden.

Ironically it will be another temporary solution to climate change - a drastic reduction in the number of humans.

This is why I think World War Three is highly likely in the next twenty years but not necessarily inevitable.

This is why I see a near future of conflict, struggle, and war as humanity retrospectively fumbles in making the changes necessary to evolve as a species. In this context the continuing fall in 'world' trends regarding armed conflict merely reflect a Western viewpoint - why is this significant? Hint - most of the oil isn't in the west and at the moment we have some.

However, in this context the rising temperatures and sea levels are just nature's way of telling humans to evolve - or die out. It doesn't care, this is the sixth time nature's most dominant life form will have died out - and its recovered from all five previous mass extinction events.

So I ask myself why I'm so angry at the state of the planet if I don't really care about its ultimate doom in terms of supporting humans. The answer has surprised me.

I do actually care - go figure.

It turns out I am tired of the dunderheads and dumbarses, blustering and billowing in their attempts to sort things out by trying to fix the symptoms.

We actually do need to wake up to what's necessary to save our planet before our species goes the way of the dinosaurs... blah, blah, blah... ah man, I need to get out more, I'm turning into a grumpy, opinionated old man.

At least when I'm on my deathbed I can look back and feel good about making an effort to save the planet.

No I didn't stop driving a petrol-driven car, no I didn't really do my bit to recycle or reduce my rate of consumption, but at least I pointed humanity in the direction of solutions to all its major problems 😀

So I remain yours, destined to die alone from hunger and thirst, eaten by cats.

PS: when you're standing there urinating on my grave, just remember I was even willing to step up in a constructive and supportive environment and help develop those solutions. I even got off my arse and wrote this blog. What did you do to save the planet, because after all your personal effort, it turns out the real issue had nothing to do with carbon-footprints and CO2 emissions?

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