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May 29, 2010

EARTH MEANDERS: United States of Ecocide: Spilling and Consuming Way to Oblivion

By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk

A great, free nation remains immobilized in the face of ecological collapse

A great, free nation remains immobilized in the face of ecological collapseThe United States of America is an epic experiment, as despite great accomplishments and numerous imperfections, we share a long history of constantly striving to improve our union. As Americans settle in for Memorial Day to remember veterans of all stripes – from great wars of world defense to more recent military adventurism – it is appropriate to consider what the current Gulf Oil Spill says about the American way of life. Plainly, our addiction to oil and consumption in general threatens to destroy regional and global ecosystems – the water, air, land and oceans –upon which Americans, humanity and all species depend upon for habitat and life.

America is truly exceptional. Yet it is not because of our materially excessive lifestyles, as best demonstrated by our wide girths and ample posteriors. There is more to America than consumption. Our greatness is primarily due to our wavering, imperfect yet unique commitment to freedom and liberty. Over two hundred years ago a just revolution was fought asserting individual liberties from monarchial authoritarianism. The principles of freedom and liberty were a gift to the world. This is what truly has set us apart. And despite two decades of consistent roll-backs in civil and human rights, Americans remain for now free peoples to prosper or expire.

America has and continues to face many challenges – repudiating slavery, enfranchising most, world wars – and most recently the inevitable slowdown of economic growth as speculative, industrial capitalism runs its course. America has enjoyed for awhile super-sized living and grown to be what it is based upon liquidating ecosystems. We have progressed to the point where regional ecosystems are collapsing – most obviously in the Gulf Coast, but throughout the vast country as ecosystems are dying. America now faces our most difficult and profound test ever, coming to terms with our deeply ecologically unsustainable lifestyles, and committing to national and global ecological sustainability.

Clearly the American way of life has been built upon liquidating our own and foreign natural life-giving ecosystems to access resources for consumption. To equate mowing ancient forests, dumping waste into water, over-fishing oceans, polluting the atmosphere, and the pervasive toxic chemical cocktail with progress and development is absurd. It is entirely possible that oil deep undersea and within our shared Earth was not meant to be drilled, much less burnt. America must directly face our profound dependence upon oil and destruction of natural ecosystems as the basis of our economy; or our country will collapse, many if not all will needlessly suffer and prematurely die, and a livable Earth may cease to exist.

The oil spilling endlessly into the Gulf of Mexico – one of America’s most rich ecosystems –shows clearly Americans of all types will commit to ecological sustainability or our free country will cease to exist. Marshes and rivers and forests and fish are far more than resources – they and all natural ecosystems provide for humanity’s habitat and existence upon Earth. The American way of life must be updated by what Ecology – the radical science – teaches us about limits to growth and requirements to sustain the biosphere. And to reflect moral outrage that as we continue to literally stuff ourselves and over-develop to death, two billion people live worldwide on under $2/day, 800 million without access to clean water. Collapsing ecosystems will almost certainly be used as the pretext for some sort of more authoritarian political system.

The American dream and way of life are built upon ecocide – willful murder of the environment. Such ecocidal behavior is problematic not only because we are literally eating Earth to death, but also because Americans use so much more than their fair share of the surplus natural capital, relative to the family of nations, than can be done sustainably. It is deeply troubling – bordering on evil – that 4% of the world’s population consumes 25% of its oil. And now sadly the rest of the world is copying America’s conspicuous over-consumption as a way of life. In an over-populated Earth plagued by inequitable consumption, clearly there has to be more meaning to life than having more stuff, including first meeting all humanity’s basic needs.

The resources necessary for all the gadgets, cars, energy and consumption found in the American dream are largely being taken at the point of gun by the U.S. military, and through neo-colonial dependency arrangements between U.S. business and resource owners. 911 was direct blowback from several decades of such behavior. It is time to stop thinking in terms of tribal nationalism and embrace the human family; as ecological challenges including forest loss, water scarcity, ocean decline, air pollution, soil depletion, nitrogen saturation and biodiversity loss threaten to destroy all nations’ peoples. How many more U.S. soldiers must kill and die needlessly in foreign lands to support these inequities and unsustainability?

Let us buttress America’s commitment to true freedom and liberty with equal devotion to equity, justice and global ecological sustainability. Future American and global ecological sustainability looks less urban, more organic; simple but quality lives; less government, more community, and dedication to protecting and restoring ecosystems. It is possible and crucial for all our shared survival to live simply, laugh often, and love deeply as we lead deeply fulfilling lives within the context of a healthy and vibrant environment, and a steady state economy which can last forever.

It is well past time to show American resolve and commitment and get the damn oil leak capped. This is an unprecedented ecological emergency that portends the future. There should be millions of Americans streaming to partake in skimming oil and cleaning what comes ashore. This is our task, our job, our life, our future, our country, our Earth and our ecology at stake. Further, I would like to take this opportunity to call for criminal investigations of BP and the U.S. government’s oil departments, for the immediate resignation of Ken Salazar as Secretary of Interior, and for a permanent global ban to ecocidal offshore oil drilling.

Ecological Internet recently declared a planetary ecological emergency[1] based upon overwhelming new ecological science indicating Earth is at or near the tipping point, and key global ecosystems and life-support systems are failing. All true Americans and global citizens are urged to dramatically reduce their personal consumption and to commit to massively reducing their personal use of oil. And the U.S. government must cease to be an oil oligarchy, divorce itself from this Earth destroying industry, and stop waging war to feed its oil addiction. Failure on either account may justly lead to the next great American Revolution: a people’s power Earth Revolution on behalf of Earth, all her life, and the human family.

###

Dr. Glen Barry is the President and Founder of Ecological Internet (EI). He is recognized internationally by the environmental movement as a leading global visionary, environmental policy critic and public intellectual committed to communicating the severity of global ecological crises and actively organizing with others sufficient responses. He is an independent political ecologist, a writer of essays and blogs, and a computer specialist and technology researcher. See http://www.ecoearth.info/ and http://www.facebook.com/ecointernet for more information

[1] April 13, 2010, RELEASE: Planetary Ecological Emergency Declared

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Comments

i think the only way to stop the madness is economic collapse (which
is inevitable) and the sooner the better.

POWER MAD

The search for energy production has become so frantic that people are
reconsidering using radioactive uranium to boil water, heating great
quantities of our already over-used water, to turn turbines to
provide electric power so more people can acquire more gadgets.

Within the past century our society has only become more adept at
accelerating entropy. We are converting anything that contains stored
and potential energy for silly and destructive purposes.

Locally, the people’s elected and appointed representatives are not
objecting to the 19th century idea of burning wood (waste?) to heat
water to turn steam turbines to produce more electicity, but, of
course, we have to disguise what it really is because that doesn’t
sound “green”. Biomass sounds “green” and it is according to my 1975
Webster’s unabridged Dictionary. Biomass refers to “the total mass or
amount of living organisms in a particuar area or volume”. So the
idea of “biomass” as a natural state is flipped and the word co-opted
- a specialty of corporate exploiters of the natural world. Sad thing
is, much of the public is so easily suckered.

There is no waste in nature. Maintaining soil requires biological
material, but the power mad want to incinerate biological material for
heat and air pollution. In other words, they would remove carbon from
the soil, where we need it; and put it in the air, where we don’t need
it.

We need more power they say, so go watch stupid football games on TV.

The oil thing is very depressing, though a friend, a guy running a great natural grass beef farm hear here (Wolf Creek Farms) thinks its the best thing that has ever happened here: For all the oily darkness, he thinks people will see the light. I wish I was as optimistic.

Amen brother.

Please google "Operation Northwoods."

It was a plan signed off on by the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff or our military many years ago, to stage the hijacking of an American plane and make it look like Cuba had done it, as an excuse to invade Cuba. Operation Northwoods was vetoed by President Kennedy.

It was dusted off and revised when a recent administration was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq. There has certainly been enough cause for it to have been blowback, but it wasn't.

Look at some of the sites like Pilots for 9/11 Truth, Scholars for 9/11 Truth, and others. Listen to David Griffin. 9/11 was an inside job and that's no more a conspiracy theory than peak oil or ecocide--it's a fact.

Concern for your credibility among the know-nothings only discredits you among those who do their homework.


One must ask does the Gulf of Mexico BP spill matter any more? Probably not.
There are an increasing number of very smart people who say the oceans — and the planet — have slipped beyond the irreversible tipping point, also known as the threshold, after which there is no way to restore the global environment to the previous state that maintained life as we know/knew it.
It doesn’t all collapse at once, but takes a few years and decades –very few — following the tipping point. Unfortunately, the real collapse — global warming being a large part of it — caused by centuries of environmental degradation that is now peaking, began in earnest in the late 1980s.
The best we, humans, can hope for is to slow down the final collapse, is to slow it down a few decades, provided we all chip in to delay the inevitable. Remember, we have passed the irreversible tipping point.
Is that scary? No. After a while the inevitable is accepted. There is no other option.

Until America and the planet reembrace a standard moral code applicable to all, (try "Thou shalt not covet" and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself..assuming of course that we have a right and healthy self image) I do not hold much hope of enough (people) caring enough to do enough.
But that is not to say that we should give up.
If everyone could truly put into practice a less consumeristic lifestyle as Dr. Barry suggests, every little bit helps.
And hey, just for the record, I do not appreciate a lot of what America has exampled to the world..you guys are not as free as you think anyway.
Also, more hands up please to make those donations..I've done my bit.
Keep up the sterling effort Dr. Barry.

"Our greatness is primarily due to our wavering, imperfect yet unique commitment to freedom and liberty."

Do you not want non-American readers? Because I really cannot stand much more of this kind thing. Other people care about freedom just as much as Americans do.

Don't depend on your votes or your contributions to solve this. We must each act individually and collectively to solve this problem by dedicating our time and our treasure. Let me ask, have you caulked and sealed every spot in your home? Have you helped your neighbor to conserve energy? We've all got to work at this. Think of this as war. For every effort made by General Washington, there were many more efforts made by average citizens and partisans. It is up to all of us!

These are wonderful lines:

"America is truly exceptional. Yet it is not because of our materially excessive lifestyles, as best demonstrated by our wide girths and ample posteriors . . . Our greatness is primarily due to our wavering, imperfect yet unique commitment to freedom and liberty."

Environmentalism is true patriotismT And real patriotism, in America in 2010, means reining in our excessive consumption!

Thank you so much Phil for your kind feedback and for your great additional words of wisdom. I used them on EI's twitter and facebook! Always open to great ways to phrase these ideas. gb

P.S. I should note if it is not already evident that this essay was largely though not exclusively targeted towards a U.S. audience for our Memorial Day holiday. But they are words I think all global citizens should hear.

This is a profound document. And I agree with every sentence. I am a little individual, but I have made significant changes in my lifestyle to help Our Mother Earth. But there is much work to do, in a shorter, and shorter window. Please urge everyone to do the most they can. And God Bless the wisdom and eloquent speech of Dr. Glen Barry.

What are you talking about?

AMERICA RULES FROM STOLEN LAND.

It's awful to see what irreversable damage that unknowing individuals are doing to a planet that they didn't have to even pay for.

It's disgusting to watch all the news covering of this. We all new this would happen though. Where's Palin in her drilling off shore talk now. I say we try to push through as much environmentally responsible legislation now while this horrible incident is still fresh in the peoples minds.

I agree with almost all here, it is logical and obvious that over consumption is leading us to the collapse of this civilization but the bit about America being great due to its commitment to liberty?
Great? Can you call great a so called liberty has always been based upon the extermination and oppression of those that don't share the vision of that particular "american" brand of "liberty."

Yes, the USA was formed to break free of European Monarchy and instead installed Freemasonic Republicanism and called it freedom and democracy... whilst exterminating the Native Americans who had a more free and more natural way of life.

Freedom is relative and brings with it responsibility.. the responsibility to care for all beings whilst the "America" brand of freedom is a particularly selfish one.. freedom to over consume, to murder, exterminate, torture and to spread its one dimensional global culture of over consumption... some call it freedom, others call it stupidity and egoism.

What follows is a "bolus of insight" from a great poet regarding a breach between a civilization and "the strong earth".

The Purse-seine, by Robinson Jeffers, 1937

.......I cannot tell you
How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible,
then, when the crowded fish
Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall
to the other of their closing destiny the
phosphorescent
Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body
sheeted with flame, like a live rocket
A comet's tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside
the narrowing
Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come up
to watch, sighing in the dark; the vast walls
of night
Stand erect to the stars.

Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light:
how could I help but recall the seine-net
Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how
beautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.
I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together
into inter-dependence; we have built the great cities; now
There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable
of free survival, insulated
From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all
dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
Is being hauled in.......

________________________________________________
Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, est. 2001
http://sustainabilityscience.org/content.html?contentid=1176

What is happening in the gulf at the moment is a really big concern. The oil could continue to leak for another couple of years if attempts to stop the leak continue to be unsuccessful I know we need oil for fertilisers, fuels plastics etc but i worry that we will see more and more disasters in the future like this one. Its easy to blame BP but accidents happen, just as cars crash and aeroplanes fall from the skys. Just like all other areas which involve human falacy mistakes happen, they are almost inevitable. The problem with deep water drilling is that the consequences are so high.

In the fight between you and the world, back the world.--Franz Kafka (1884--1924), German novelist

The oi spill has long since left the headline news, but the ecocide continues everywhere.

I can only dream of a day when the U.S. government ceases to be an oil oligarchy.

I'm in my 40's, but I'm not holding out any hope that I'll see it in my lifetime.

Nice post.

Jim