After digesting yesterday's essay by UBC prof William Rees about how humanity is suffocating other forms of life on our planet, I was left wondering what they're afraid of, why aren't they talking to us about what is happening, right now, beneath our own feet?
As Rees pointed out, "We are clever enough to document — in exquisite detail — various trends that portend the collapse of modern civilization, yet not nearly smart enough to extricate ourselves from our self-induced predicament."
For a decade, perhaps a bit more, I've been covering one major report after another on research documenting the alarming collapse of non-human life - insect, mammals, birds, sea mammals, fish, the lot. Some species have fallen extinct but the worrisome problem is that virtually all species are in severe decline, often upwards of 66% of their numbers over the past 40 years which, of course, coincides with the advent of neoliberalism.
Even in Canada, everything from casual windshield “surveys” to formal scientific assessments show a drop in insect numbers. Meanwhile, domestic populations of many insect-eating birds are in freefall. Ontario has lost half its whip-poor-wills in the past 20 years; across the nation, such species as nighthawks, swallows, martins and fly-catchers are down by up to 75 per cent; Greater Vancouver’s barn and bank swallows have plummeted by 98 per cent since 1970. Heard much about these things in the mainstream news?
As the Bonn climate summit wraps up it reveals how ineffectual our nations have become and why they'll never succeed in bringing climate change under control. They're still treating climate change as a standalone crisis. They imagine they're dealing with a disease but it's really just one of several symptoms of the greater threat that confronts us - ourselves.
You cannot take climate change in isolation of its companion threats that are also existential. Climate change cannot be separated from over-population and over-consumption of our planet's finite resources. Rees pointed it out beautifully. It took our species 200,000 years to reach one billion and just another 200 years to increase that more than seven fold and, in the course of those same 200 years, GDP has swelled about a hundred fold. That's hundreds of times more production, more consumption, more waste, more pollution and contamination of every form imaginable. And what are our politicians doing? With their corporate partners they're obsessively pursuing perpetual, exponential growth. Every foot is on the gas pedal but nobody's hands are on the wheel.
That's not democratic leadership. That's nihilism.
They can't even respond to climate change beyond purely gestural proposals - carbon taxes. What exactly is that going to do? Nothing, it's a sop.
Rees didn't write an op-ed. He penned an essay. He wasn't expressing an opinion. He was writing from fact, scientific knowledge documented in "exquisite detail." His was not some dodgy belief-based construct. That's the crap peddled to us by our political caste, the nihilists.
Surely we have reached a point where you have to ask yourself why you're supporting and empowering nihilists. Why? The science has been pouring in for more than a decade. There's a mountain of research and analysis and it's compelling.
What's your problem? Is it simply too much to take in? Can you not get your mind around the enormity of the change that has set in over just the past forty years? Do you, like our leaders, need to pretend this isn't happening or that it's not immediate or a mortal threat to our civilization?