Ecoside! We have more environmental worries than rising carbon levels in the atmosphere and business as usual won't solve it!

Dec 2016
5,230
2,672
Canada
#1
DECEMBER 21, 2018
Ecocide as Creative Destruction
by ROB URIE

According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), since 1970 60% of the mammals, birds, fish and reptiles on the planet have been driven to extinction. To the extent that the WWF has it right, climate change accounts for less than 10% of these losses (graph below). As important and logistically complex as resolving climate change is, it is but one of a host of environmental ills in equal or greater need of resolution.

Habitat degradation and loss and animal exploitation (e.g. trawl-net fishing) explain most of this animal extinction. Habitat loss is primarily due to deforestation to feed factory farm animals. According to the Guardian, these animal losses would require 5 – 7 million years to recover from. But as of today, the causes of extinction continue unabated with no plausible plans being put forward by national governments to address it.

While the role of global warming will increase in time, mass extinction is at present a related but separate crisis in need of resolution. Source:wwf.org.uk.

As reported hereand here, the animal extinction isn’t anomalous. Over approximately the same time frame, 60% – 80% of insects have also been made extinct. The precise balance of causes is debatable, but putting climate change forwardas the primary cause reframes the concept of a ‘carbon budget’ in wildly alarming terms. If the one-degreeCelsius warming experienced to date explains the insect extinction, where does that leave the IPCC’s1.5 degree warming ‘budget?’

Most of the relation of climate change to mass extinction is based on an analogy. The ‘Great Dying’ extinction of 250 million years ago resulted from global warming caused by volcanic emissions of greenhouse gases. It mainly affected marine life through oxygen depletion. While there is a logical relationship between marine, animal and insect extinction— they are all extinctions, to date, oceanic oxygen depletion has more direct causes in agricultural runoff.

The appeal of assigning climate change as the cause of mass extinction is that solving climate change would in theory solve it. However, Raj Patel of the University of Texas-Austin is one of a number of environmental theorists who argue that industrial agriculture— including deforestation, monoculture planting and the use of pesticides, explains the insect and animal extinctions quite well. That oceanic dead zones ring industrial economies supports the interpretation that they are caused by agricultural runoff.

The point here is analytical and tactical, not semantic. If industrialization is narrowly at fault for related environmental crises— say through greenhouse gas emissions, then ‘green growth’ is at least theoretically plausible through some combination of reduction and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. But this isn’t the case. The insect and animal mass extinctions appear to be related to climate change through a shared cause— industrialization.

Given the environmental stakes, arguing against the logic of capitalism would be pointless without bringing it back to environmental logic. Whether it is cause, effect or iterative, capitalism is deeply embedded in the social complexity that defines modernity. Most in the West buy their food in a store and have no idea how to produce it. This largely explains why market relations define so much of the realm of available social logic. Phrased differently, climate change and mass extinction strongly suggest that something is missing from the available social logic.

This social complexity— deeply interwoven social, political and economic relationships that make even small changes to the existing order dangerous for large numbers of people, constitutes a doomsday device of sorts given the environmental reckoning that is underway. Agricultural complexity— systems that billions of people rely on for sustenance, can be left to collapse on their own or their unwind can be planned. Lest this seem unduly alarmist, insect, animal and marine mass extinctions are already far along.

Question: if a group of people proposed killing 60% – 80% of the animals, insects and marine life on the planet while emitting enough gases into the atmosphere to cook the planet, should their stance as ‘centrists’ be taken seriously? And possibly more to the point, does it make a difference that until around 1980 they didn’t know they were doing so, and after they were told they accelerated the damage caused? The term ‘sociopaths’ seems more descriptively accurate.

Because animal agriculture is so resource intensive, were it to be abandoned, existing food production would greatly exceed what is needed to sustain people. This would facilitate a move away from industrial agriculture toward local, small scale and regenerative agriculture. It would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% – 50%, depending on whether deforestation is included in the calculation.

Otherwise, environmental problem solving begins with identification of the problems and then steps are taken to bring them to resolution. What doesn’t work is to spend decades ignoring and understating problems and then proposing half-measures under the theory that something is better than nothing. Half-measures proceed from the assumption that danger comes from action, rather than inaction. Mounting evidence suggests that this isn’t the case.

Another way to frame this is that problem solving can come through technological innovation, which has a long history of producing unanticipated adverse consequences, or through stopping doing what is causing problems. With the latter, the consequences are largely known— the problems are ended. To the extent that basic material needs could be met through ending animal agriculture and militarism, the capacity to resolve mounting crises exists even if the political will doesn’t.

According to decades of polls, most people want to do the right thing when it comes to the planet. This illustrates the divide between political and economic democracy. Economic concentration is used to crush political democracy. Without suggesting there are any simple or easy answers, breaking economic concentration is a necessary step to restoring the power to resolve environmental crises. Additionally, it would remove the logic of accumulation that is killing the planet.

Finally, the term ‘creative destruction’ in the title was conceived by Joseph Schumpeter to glorify the revolutionary nature of capitalism as replacement through innovation. With climate change and mass extinction at hand, what is being replaced is life on the planet. It’s good to know that there is a theory that ties to the process, although I’d hope for a better epitaph.
Ecocide as Creative Destruction
 
Dec 2018
2,011
1,324
Wisconsin
#4
For those who don't believe CO2 levels in the atmosphere are to be concerned, I suggest you put a bag over your head and see what effect CO2 in the atmosphere has on you.

#PleaseDontActuallyDoThat
 
Oct 2010
67,378
27,271
Colorado
#5
CO2 is not the GHG you need to worry about, Water vapor is.
RTL, you posted a comprehensive article that actually downplayed the role of climate change as the primary culprit in the ongoing mass extinction, and this ridiculous post is post #2.

It's flat unstoppable. There's no need for Homo sapiens sapiens to experience dramatic, apocalyptic events, but, we seem determined to do it anyway.
 
Likes: Bad Bob
Dec 2016
5,230
2,672
Canada
#7
CO2 is not the GHG you need to worry about, Water vapor is.
That empty rhetoric point from the denial side is put out there for people who don't bother to read anything about how environmental cycles function! Simple fact is that for each one degree celsius increase in global temperature, there is a 7% increase in the moisture volume in the atmosphere! That's how we're getting bombed by "atmospheric rivers" in more and more places where...often after droughts or prolonged dry spells, when the rains come, it comes with a bang, and it rains so hard that flooding causes deaths and destruction to deal with afterwards.

So, if you want to stop the atmospheric warming effects of water vapour, stop adding to GHG levels to start with, which are the leading edge of the warming in the atmosphere.
 
Dec 2016
5,230
2,672
Canada
#8
Yeah, the biggest mistake on all sides is most people still have the frame of reference provided by scientists and philosophers of the enlightenment...that we can control nature.
Even the non-trumpers who talk about green tech and dealing with climate change at the IPCC conferences don't seem to get it that there is no magic target temperature that we can stay under and prevent climate catastrophe! What the scientists studying the atmosphere have been saying is that the percentages of risking cascading feedback effects that will increase CO2 levels and warming, also increase as CO2 levels rise. Fact is that the threshold for melting Arctic ice was almost certainly less than 350 ppm.....a number none of our grandchildren will see in their lifetimes even if human contributions ended immediately.

So, staying under 2 degrees C or even 1.5...as some are saying now/but can't even show any math for how they could possibly arrive there, won't count for much when the ice caps have melted and most of us survivors are out at sea clinging to the debris of our destroyed houses!
 
Likes: Clara007
Dec 2016
5,230
2,672
Canada
#9
RTL, you posted a comprehensive article that actually downplayed the role of climate change as the primary culprit in the ongoing mass extinction, and this ridiculous post is post #2.

It's flat unstoppable. There's no need for Homo sapiens sapiens to experience dramatic, apocalyptic events, but, we seem determined to do it anyway.
No, read it carefully! Because what author - Rob Urie is saying is that many underlying factors that come together in the category of environmental destruction are the primary causes of animal extinctions and population loss up till now. BUT that's the key point! Because as time goes on and the effects of the GHG increases we've caused, start taking their toll in tripping positive feedbacks making a hotter and more inhospitable climate, then we'll see the real ravages of climate change! Worth noting that the Great Dying event that Urie mentions - the Permian-Triassic Extinction of 250 million years ago, took place over a period of time of up to one million years! So what we've started in comparatively recent history is just a blip on the radar.

And it's also worth noting that when we first started hearing about environmental risks and catastrophes, there were half as many people on the planet, not even half as much industry, production and shipping of products and no one was factoring in rising Co2 levels, because the increases until 1970 had been very small and increasing very gradually.....unlike today, where we've gone way over 410 ppm CO2 and the rate of increase is also rising....during a period of minimal solar activity no less, when detractors told us would cause conditions similar to the mini ice age of the middle ages.
 
Dec 2015
16,550
15,413
Arizona
#10
Yeah, the biggest mistake on all sides is most people still have the frame of reference provided by scientists and philosophers of the enlightenment...that we can control nature.
Even the non-trumpers who talk about green tech and dealing with climate change at the IPCC conferences don't seem to get it that there is no magic target temperature that we can stay under and prevent climate catastrophe! What the scientists studying the atmosphere have been saying is that the percentages of risking cascading feedback effects that will increase CO2 levels and warming, also increase as CO2 levels rise. Fact is that the threshold for melting Arctic ice was almost certainly less than 350 ppm.....a number none of our grandchildren will see in their lifetimes even if human contributions ended immediately.

So, staying under 2 degrees C or even 1.5...as some are saying now/but can't even show any math for how they could possibly arrive there, won't count for much when the ice caps have melted and most of us survivors are out at sea clinging to the debris of our destroyed houses!

The new Climate Denier "theory" is ....so what if the ice caps melt. That doesn't raise the water level. Hoax.
Witch hunt. Bah!