Solutions Initiative - Threats to Global Sustainability Demand
One of the gravest threats to global ecology
is feel good half-measures propagated by misinformed, often
delusional environmental do-gooders that do not understand
the extent of the global ecological crisis or the magnitude
of responses required to sustain the Earth. I spent much of
2005 writing Earth Meanders regarding gathering global ecological
collapse. There is little hope of the Earth and humanity regaining
a state of balance absent a major surge in ecological based
policies in virtually every human realm and/or a major human
population collapse. This essay first reviews the inadequacy
of traditional environmentalism and then lists the top ten
measures necessary to bring humanity and Earth to a state
of global ecological sustainability.
Too many people are consuming too much and
their developments have severely diminished natural ecosystems.
The Earth system's biogeochemical cycling of energy and nutrients
has been ripped apart and subsequently the global ecological
system which provides humans their habitat is failing. Ecological
collapse has already started and as a result people are dying
from Haiti to Indonesia to New Orleans. The signs of ecological
collapse are everywhere - melting glaciers, chaotic weather
patterns, emergent disease, starvation, and burning forests.
Further death and ecological mayhem of much greater magnitude
is assured. It is now just a matter of how severe, if the
biosphere will be able to recover, and whether modern human
society will persist.
What hope exists for avoiding global ecological
collapse, the death of billions and the end of civilization
lies in bold visionary proposals that are adequate to transform
humanity's relationship with the Earth. Minor reforms propagated
by forces ranging from the Hollywood glamorati through the
mainstream environmental corporations are nibbling around
the edges and will prove to be too little too late. For example
hybrid cars and compact florescent light bulbs are not a climate
policy (sorry Leonardo). And ancient rainforests cannot be
environmentally harvested (whatever Greenpeace, WWF and Rainforest
Action Network say).
When virtually the entire political and
social system is selling out the Earth with inadequate policies
- even lefty celebrities and radical environmental groups
- things are grim indeed. There exists a tremendous disconnect
between ecological science, sustainability policy, and the
political organization, advocacy and communication strategies
necessary to sustain the Earth. Tinkering around the edges
and incremental feel good bullshit is causing more harm than
The remainder of this essay presents the
beginnings of an Earth rescue plan. These sustainability solutions
are based upon ecological science, and together they are adequate
- indeed required - to address virtually all environmental
crises, which after all at root reflect humanity's deep state
of ecological unsustainability.
Top Ten Policies Necessary to Pursue Global
Following are the most urgent policy prescriptions
necessary to maximize the likelihood of a habitable biosphere
and minimize human death as a result of collapsing ecosystems.
To have any chance of averting global apocalypse these sorts
of policies must be implemented with all haste. Your comments
are welcome regarding this list and avenues for implementation
(which will be enumerated in subsequent Earth Meanders).
No. 1 - POPULATION - Human populations surpass
what the Earth can bear. We must stabilize and then reduce
human population to at most a third current levels. Global
limits must be placed on the number of children born, using
incentives at first such as tax benefits for smaller families.
Humanity can reduce population on their own accord or the
Earth will do so for us.
No. 2 - GREENHOUSE GASES - Abrupt runaway
climate change is happening now as energy costs the Earth
dearly. Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 60% as
soon as possible. Maintaining an operable atmosphere requires
phasing out coal and oil, introducing a substantial carbon
tax, investing in renewable energy, and rigorously pursuing
conservation and efficiency. [No large-scale new energy systems
such as nuclear or biofuel until shown to be environmentally
benign in the long-term.]
No. 3 - PROTECT ECOSYSTEMS - Large, connected
and strictly protected ecosystems over much of the land and
sea are a prerequisite for provision of air, water, [biodiversity,]
soil and other services upon which life depends. Large protected
marine areas must be established, ending industrial fishing.
And ancient forest logging must end, strictly protecting remaining
intact natural habitats.
No. 4 - CONSUMPTION - Excessive resource
use to meet frivolous human wants must be restricted by promoting
a consumption ethic that stresses voluntary simplicity and
a sense of "enoughness", and laws that minimize
impacts. Simple reforms such as standardizing consumer packaging
and making all waste recyclable will reduce necessary consumption's
No. 5 - AGRICULTURE - A transition must
be made to sustainable agricultural practices and eating habits
with the emphasis upon organic, non-GMO, low meat diets that
are locally produced. Eating habits impact virtually all ecosystems,
resulting in natural forest clearing, toxic food chains, depleted
water, soil loss and reduction of ecosystems' ability to hold
No. 6 - SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIES - Economic
systems are a subset of ecological systems and as such all
economic activities must maintain or expand natural capital.
Growth that destroys natural capital is not sustainable, and
growth as a measure of economic activity is an ecological
malignancy. A steady state, sustainable economy must be business,
industry and humanity's goal.
No. 7 - GREEN TECHNOLOGY - Technology by
itself cannot bring sustainability, but clean and green technologies
are important and provide huge economic opportunities. There
is tremendous potential for development of energy efficient,
more sustainable and fully recyclable buildings, products
and services [including hybrids and fluorescent lightbulbs].
But the use and trade of toxic chemicals must end.
No. 8 - ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION - Too many
ecosystems have already been lost and diminished for humanity
to persist. Achieving sustainability and preparing for post
collapse societies depends upon targeted restoration of important
ecosystems. Priorities for ecological restoration include
watersheds, establishing ecological core areas and urban environments.
No. 9 - POVERTY- Billions living in desperate
poverty is unethical and damages the environment. All cannot
live like Americans, but if the Earth's wealth is shared we
can all live as Europeans do. The focus must be upon the overdeveloped
world living more simply, sustainable development, equitable
and just political and economic systems, and green technology
No. 10 - DEMILITARIZATION - Increasingly
conflicts over resources fuel militarism and insurgency. Military
budgets divert resources from crucial social and environmental
investments, and must be slashed. Lasting security that is
equitable, just and sustainable is best achieved through greater
international law and investments that nurture global ecosystems.
The Sustainability Solutions Initiative
The above list is a first draft which will
form the basis of Ecological Internet's new think tank entitled
"Sustainability Solutions Initiative". The Sustainability
Solutions Initiative will be devoted to sufficient policy
measures to achieve global ecological sustainability. It will
focus upon making scientifically credible policy initiatives
accessible to policy-makers and the public. It is intended
that this essay start a dialogue, and your responses and critiques
of the above list will prove important in this project's final
formulation and launch.
After a lifetime spent studying the global
ecological system and trends in the Earth's decline, I have
come to the conclusion that it is absolutely essential that
measures of the sort listed above are immediately pursued.
Anything less ambitious perpetuates deadly trends, wastes
precious time and ensures the Earth will not be saved. The
next time someone tells you ancient forest logging or light
bulbs are sufficient responses to the world's environmental
problems, kindly tell them to piss off. Then direct them to
Earth Meanders and Ecological Internet's soon to be launched
Sustainability Solutions Initiative.