Monday, January 13, 2014

Stop having children

I'm very glad to hear this article on environmental apocalypse by Dahr Jamail has gone viral. As I wrote last Spring, in response to Ian Dunlop's presentation at the UN, without dramatic interventions, we may be facing a drop from 11 billion to 2 billion people by 2050, not just from sea level rise, climate change, diseases, starvation, invasive species infestations, food web collapse and loss of biodiversity, water contamination, etc but from the geopolitical disruptions we're already seeing spread world wide. A topic we've increasingly explored in the "Gulf to Gulf" series, is whether we need to consider all the factional tensions world wide as adaptive biological responses to over-population, etc., in which the rhetoric (ie., of the far right) is just symptomatic. 

These implications are extremely messy, albeit somewhat avoidable with more realistic policies about extractive industries and the income gap fueling climate change. The greater the gap between the power of First World countries and global corporations driving fossil fuel extraction, the less likely we are to forestall disaster.

In our last "Gulf to Gulf" with Jim White for a few months last week (which we'll get on line ASAP), we reviewed some of the maps we generated in 2007, to analyse data and biogeographic patterns. At the time, we came to conclusions, without GIS to verify our conclusions, that were far ahead of the curve of predictive conclusions we're seeing even now. Last week we discussed the personal implications of living with that knowledge. It's pretty alarming and that alarm has been for me since 2007.

"Trigger Points/ Tipping Points" variable sizes Rahmani with White 2007

What is relevant here & now, is how to best live and work with this knowledge, nicely presented here I have contended several points for several years:

1. Team work, of which attribution & generosity are keys, is critical. So is the mutual support we can give each other.
2. Despite our urgent realities, we must take time to think thru our options very carefully, which paradoxically takes time we don't have.
3. Despite our selfish & realistic terror for our own species, it is going to be focusing on other species that can best "save" us, such as fish.
4. We can analyse large systems for critical leverage points (trigger point theory). I learned this from living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
5. It is possible that we first need to accept the hopelessness and despair of what we have wraught before we can realitically figure out our next steps.
6. Stop having children. Nothing is contributing more to the planet's stress than over-population, especially from the First World.

An addendum based on that last statement & my title, which alarmed some folks as an injunction to the third world. I added, "particularly in the First World," because our impact is so disproportionate. If people think I'm talking about third world fertility, I think that just reflects their racism. Also, I think over-population IS the critical issue. I also agree with others, however that capitalist consumption is critical & actually think the two issues are mirror images of each other: we think we can have unlimited children. We think we can consume unlimited resources. We entitle people to be monster narcissistic consumers in every way, whether financial, attention or morally. Capitalism encourages all of the above but is also a symptom of the more is more mentality. A related issue on art making is the whole object issue of fetishism, critiqued by post-modernists- a whole other kettle of fish. Finally, having children is the third rail no one wants to come to grips with. In the FIRST WORLD WE SHOULD NOT BE ENTITLED TO PRODUCE MORE CONSUMERS no matter how much we love the little critters. Hate that message but heed it, please. If we don't, there will be nothing left for anyone or anything except the roaches.... in our lifetimes and certainly in the lifetime of any child born today.

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