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Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality

Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality

 

Earth and Humanity

Earth and Humanity

Every year, Nate Hagens produces a video for Earth Day. Nate is someone I cannot admire enough. These videos normally last about an hour, but this year one of his University colleagues told him it was about time he stopped pussy footing around and tell it like is. So this year’s effort runs for almost three hours…… and it’s Nate’s tour de force…! You probably won’t learn much if you’ve been lurking on this blog long enough, but you won’t be disappointed, and you should certainly share the hell out of it, because it’s fast becoming urgent for the ignorant masses to find out the truth….

 

Why am I feeling so anxious? The end of modernism arrives

Why am I feeling so anxious? The end of modernism arrives

A friend of mine quipped that it is one thing to talk about the end of modernism—as the two of us have been doing for over 25 years—and quite another to live through it. It might seem that such notions are far too abstract to account for the anxiety of our fraught times. But underneath all the disorder we see in our pandemic-plagued economic, social and political lives is the crumbling of key assumptions about what we call modernity, a period of “enlightenment” that has supposedly freed us from the past.

First, let me recount what I regard as four key assumptions of modernism—I’ve written about them before—which are being demolished every day right before our eyes with the help of an invisible virus.

  1. Humans are in one category and nature is in another.
  2. Scale doesn’t matter.
  3. History can be safely ignored since modern society has seen through the delusions of the past.
  4. Science is a unified, coherent field that explains the rational principles by which we can manage the physical world.

The next thing I need to remind you is that modernism is as much a religion as any other. In the not-too-distant past, whenever anyone raised questions about its basic tenets—directly or indirectly in one form or another—that person was quickly shushed. If the person persisted, he or she was then shamed. If shaming didn’t work, then that person was shunned or even unceremoniously ejected from the party.

Enter COVID-19.

The very first thing COVID-19 reminded us is that humans and nature are both in the same category, whatever you want to call it. (My favorite living French thinker Bruno Latour proposed the compound term “nature-culture” in his seminal book We Have Never Been Modern.)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Were other humans the first victims of the 6th mass extinction?

Were other humans the first victims of the 6th mass extinction?

Preface. This article makes a good case that we did indeed wipe out other hominids. “…Yet the extinction of Neanderthals, at least, took a long time—thousands of years. While Neanderthals lost the war, to hold on so long they must have fought and won many battles against us, suggesting a level of intelligence close to our own.”

I seriously doubt we’ll drive ourselves extinct, though carrying capacity of the earth is at best 1 billion (pre-fossil fuels) or less (topsoil erosion, deforestation, pollution, climate change, etc).

***

Longrich, N. 2019. Were other humans the first victims of the sixth mass extinction? The conversation.

Nine human species walked the Earth 300,000 years ago. Now there is just one. The Neanderthals, Homo neanderthalensis, were stocky hunters adapted to Europe’s cold steppes. The related Denisovans inhabited Asia, while the more primitive Homo erectus lived in Indonesia, and Homo rhodesiensis in central Africa.

Several short, small-brained species survived alongside them: Homo naledi in South Africa, Homo luzonensis in the Philippines, Homo floresiensis (“hobbits”) in Indonesia, and the mysterious Red Deer Cave People in China. Given how quickly we’re discovering new species, more are likely waiting to be found.

By 10,000 years ago, they were all gone. The disappearance of these other species resembles a mass extinction. But there’s no obvious environmental catastrophe—volcanic eruptions, climate change, asteroid impact—driving it. Instead, the extinctions’ timing suggests they were caused by the spread of a new species, evolving 260,000-350,000 years ago in Southern Africa: Homo sapiens.

The spread of modern humans out of Africa has caused a sixth mass extinction, a greater than 40,000-year event extending from the disappearance of Ice Age mammals to the destruction of rainforests by civilisation today. But were other humans the first casualties?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Can Humanity and Nature Co-Exist Under Capitalism?

Can Humanity and Nature Co-Exist Under Capitalism?

Two new documentaries tackle the all-important question of our age, namely how humanity and nature can co-exist in a period of insurmountable capitalist contradiction, especially when humanity takes the form of small businesspeople hoping to exploit natural resources under duress.

Opening at The Landmark at 57 West on May 10th, “The Biggest Little Farm” is a stunningly dramatic portrait of a husband and wife trying to create an ecotopian Garden of Eden forty miles north of Los Angeles. (Nationwide screening info is here.)

Idealist to a fault but utterly inexperienced as farmers, they encounter one obstacle after another in the hope of doing well by doing good. Essentially, they discover that by creating a bounteous yield of edibles destined for the organic foods market, they also attract a plague of gophers, coyotes, starlings and snails that see their farm as a dinner plate. Trying to balance their ecotopian values with the appetites of the animal kingdom becomes an ordeal they never anticipated.

Utterly indifferent to ecological values, the lobster fishermen depicted in Bullfrog Film’s “Lobster War: The Fight Over the World’s Richest Fishing Grounds” are family and village-oriented. As long as they can haul in the valuable crustaceans and keep themselves and their respective towns in Maine and Canada prosperous, nothing much else matters. Not being able to see outside the box, they symbolize the short-term mindset of the ruling class. If lobsters become extinct because of unsustainable practices, the fishermen might turn to other profitable marine life. But when all animals become extinct except for rodents, pigeons and cockroaches, homo sapiens will be next in line.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Breakthrough Energy Ventures: Our Malevolent Benefactors and Their Master Plan for Humanity

Bill Gates | Davos

Breakthrough Energy Ventures: Our Malevolent Benefactors and Their Master Plan for Humanity

The men who pull all the media, political and business levers in much of the world now want to pretend to save us from ourselves by backing GMOs and other questionable technologies.

ABusiness Insider story by author Aria Bendix caught my eye this morning by framing Bill Gates and his compatriot billionaires as “planet saving” heroes. According to the story, the same men who have made trillions off super-capitalism, and created a cabal that controls many governments, they’re now investing in six agricultural startups through Breakthrough Energy Ventures. One look at the investors should send shivers down any reasonable person’s spine. Let me frame this for you, painted with sarcasm so I retain my sanity.

Gates Loves Us to DEATH

Everyone knows how much Bill Gates loves humanity, he’s sold trillions of dollars worth of software, tablets, crummy smartphones, and even Monsanto poisons to us over the past few decades. But who among us can even fathom the warm and fuzzy adoration His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia feels for the world? Why look! Right alongside Gates, Al Talal, and Amazon’s Bezos, there’s Richard Branson, Alibaba’s Jack Ma, and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein, just to mention a few of our most loving philanthropists. Yes, my friends, we are doomed by their fuzzy malevolence for certain.

The “mission” of Breakthrough Energy Ventures is to “commercialize energy innovation at scale,” at least according to the group’s narrative. I guess this means the fund is not about philanthropy after all (sorry, I am growing to hate these people).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Assorted Thoughts On Politics, Humanity, And The World

Assorted Thoughts On Politics, Humanity, And The World

The problem isn’t just that we are ruled by tyrants, it’s that our minds are full of propaganda and cultural mind viruses which cause us to consent to it.

Russophobia and an uncritical emphasis on Trump has been used to scaremonger an annoyingly large percentage of American progressives from focusing on wanting change to focusing on wanting things to go back to how they used to be. Wanting things to go back to how they used to be is wanting the conditions which created Trump.

Patriotism is like the blue pill in The Matrix. You take it and you get to feel good about your country, but you don’t get to know the truth about it.

If everyone suddenly deeply understood on a gut level exactly how horrific war is, all military actions the US and its allies are currently engaged in would be forced to end due to popular revolt.

Under-discussed: secretive government agencies provide support to Silicon Valley corporations, support which they could easily have threatened to give to those corporations’ competitors instead if certain agreements weren’t made.

Anyone who says Russia is about to invade Ukraine or the Baltic states is either lying or ignorant. A nation with an economy the size of Spain which has been gutting its military budget is not gearing up for World War Three.

Russia’s military personality is a lot like the personality of the stereotypical Russian military veteran: stoic and reserved when left unprovoked, but willing and able to put you in a wheelchair if you invade his personal space. It should be treated accordingly.

People who don’t believe that these idiotic escalations against Russia can lead to nuclear war have simply compartmentalized away from fully considering all the possibilities. They have done this out of intellectual cowardice.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Humanity vs. the Rule of Law

Humanity vs. the Rule of Law

Photo by Nathaniel St. Clair

It was back in my early undergrad years when I first came to understand the broad reach of US foreign policy. I completed a social work internship in Los Angeles at a safe house in east LA in a largely immigrant community whose goal was economic justice and solidarity with working families. One morning I came down to the kitchen to find two sisters from the Missionaries of Charitysitting at the table with our house administrators. They had a similar home just down the street from us and they were well known for opening it up as a sanctuary for refugees. That day they greeted us with a choice.

A family of refugees from Central America were en route to LA and needed housing since the sisters home was already filled to capacity. Our house admins had already agreed to do this but we would be permitted to go to another program, without judgement, if we were not comfortable with this decision. This was the late 80s and providing sanctuary for people from certain nations in Central America was both controversial and illegal. We were nervous, but young and very eager to do something that seemed radical. Over the following month we learned that the risk we had taken paled in comparison to theirs. Nothing could remotely compare with the horrors they had endured or narrowly escaped; threats of rape, violence and being abandoned to die in agony in the desert, or the uncertain future they faced in a country hostile to their very existence.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will the Extinction of Bees Really Mean the End of Humanity?

Will the Extinction of Bees Really Mean the End of Humanity?

Feared at best and considered a useless, disposable nuisance at worst, bees are among the most underappreciated creatures on the planet.

That’s a shame because our very existence relies on the tiny buzzing creatures.

We’ve known for years that bee populations all across North America and Europe are collapsing at an alarming rate.

This is a huge threat to our food supply. One-third of all the food we eat comes from plants that are pollinated by insects, and 80% of those crops are pollinated by bees. It also has big implications for our meat supply as well: plants (like alfalfa) that feed animals are pollinated by bees.

The largest international survey of insect pollinators found that just 2 percent of wild bee species now account for 80 percent of global crop pollination.

Put bluntly, if all the bees die, humanity will follow.

Worldwide, there are nearly 20,000 known species of bees in seven recognized biological families. Of those, 4,000 calls the United States home. Bees exist on every continent except Antarctica. Wherever you find insect-pollinated, flowering plants you will find bees.

Native bees come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, but one thing they all have in common is their important role as pollinators.

Here are just some of the fruits and veggies bumble bees help pollinate: Squash, pumpkin, zucchini, alfalfa, cranberries, apples, green beans, scarlet beans, runner beans, cucumber, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, potatoes, blueberries, cherries, kiwifruit, raspberries, blackberries, plums, and melons.

According to a Cornell University study published in 2012, crops pollinated by honeybees and other insects contributed $29 billion to United States farm income in 2010.

As you can see, bees are a crucial part of our ecosystem. Our food supplies – and essentially, our lives – rely on them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Humanity Sealed Its Own Fate: 15,000 Scientists Sign A “Doomsday Warning”

Humanity Sealed Its Own Fate: 15,000 Scientists Sign A “Doomsday Warning”

earthquake drought natural disaster

A catastrophic warning about humanity’s impending doom was just signed by 15,000 scientists; they all agree that we’ve already sealed our fate.

The signed letter, which was apparently first written in 1992, claims all of the predictions made by scientists have come true except one. Apart from the hole in the ozone layer, which has now stabilized, every one of the major threats identified in 1992 has worsened.

The prophetic warning letter from 1992 argued human impacts on the natural world were likely to lead to “vast human misery” and a planet that was “irretrievably mutilated.” Climate change, deforestation, loss of access to fresh water, animal species extinctions, and uncontrolled human population growth are all threatening mankind’s and the Earth’s future.

It’s been about 25 years since the first doomsday warning letter was signed and scientists are now saying that the Earth is in even more dire shape.  More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries said humans had “unleashed a mass extinction event,the sixth in roughly 540 million years.”

The message, which was posted online and is an update to the original Warning from the Union of Concerned Scientists and around 1,700 signatories delivered in 1992.  The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity was written and spearheaded by the late Henry Kendall, former chair of UCS’s board of directors. But scientists still agree that runaway consumption of natural resources by an exploding population remains the biggest danger facing humankind, say the scientists.

In the more recent doomsday warning, scientists warn that human beings should eat less meat, have fewer kids, consume less, and use green energy to save the planet. In the past 25 years, scientists have pointed out the following:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Beware of the “dark side” of humanity during any collapse

Image: Beware of the “dark side” of humanity during any collapse
While there have been countless books, movies and television shows about life after some type of apocalyptic event, chances are none of us will ever actually be forced to experience what its like trying to rebuild society from the ground up. More than likely, the majority of us will never be so hungry that we’re forced to get food from somewhere other than the local supermarket, craft our own tools and weapons just to make it through the day, or make decisions that are a matter of life or death. All that being said, there is still a burning question that millions of Americans across the country find themselves asking every now and then: what if?

What if society really did crumble like a house of cards? What if we really were forced to rebuild from the ground up? What would that look like? Would mankind be able to set aside our differences for the greater good, or would the ensuing chaos and fear bring out the worse in us?

All of these can be answered by addressing one more overarching question: are human beings good or evil by nature? It would appear that when reduced to their natural state as a species, humans possess the will and desire to work together with one another; if the opposite were true, then society would never have had the opportunity to be built in the first place. (Related: These are the top ten cities that would be rebuilt first after a societal collapse.) However, it would be inaccurate to say that human beings are entirely good in nature because, as demonstrated through people like Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, our species clearly has a dark side.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why you can’t argue with a “modern”

Why you can’t argue with a “modern”

The modern world is filled with things many of us regard as antiquated and old-fashioned. Modern people often say that ancient rituals are mere superstition, that science tells us what is real and what is not, and that we are now free from ideas including untestable ideas from religion that have slowed continual improvement in the lot of average humans.

That the modern outlook has all the hallmarks of a religion never occurs to a thoroughly modern person (whom I’ll refer to merely as a “modern”). A modern believes that the modern outlook is above and outside all superstition and groundless belief. In effect, the modern outlook is a myth that does not believe it is a myth.

In using the word “myth,” I do not mean to label the modern outlook false. In this context myth is simply a narrative that outlines a worldview. It turns out that a myth of any vintage, ancient or modern, can be a powerful tool in motivating behavior, in explaining and manipulating the world, and in assigning meaning to human existence. And any myth of any vintage can turn out simply to be mistaken in some or all of its details.

The modern myth has some unique characteristics that make it particularly powerful and particularly dangerous at the same time. The modern myth tells us the following about the world and our place in it:

  1. Humans are in one category and nature is in another.
  2. Scale doesn’t matter.
  3. History can be safely ignored since modern society has seen through the delusions of the past.
  4. Science is a unified, coherent field that explains the rational principles by which we can manage the physical world.

Let me take these claims one at a time.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Terms of debate: Destroying vs altering nature, the fragile vs the resilient Earth

Terms of debate: Destroying vs altering nature, the fragile vs the resilient Earth

Last week’s piece drew responses that throw into relief how much the language we use depends on our most basic assumptions about how the world works. If left unexamined, that language leads to further conclusions that go unchallenged because the underlying assumptions are never scrutinized.

I challenged the Breakthrough Institute’s notion that humans are in one category and nature in another. If one views humans as merely a part of nature or the universe or the web of existence–however one chooses to name that which includes everything–then our role becomes distinctly different.

Under my assumption humans are embedded in the natural world. They are not the sole actors or agents in it, only one of countless actors, most of which we probably know nothing about. We cannot get one up on nature. We can only cooperate with its workings.

When we put nature in one category and humans in another, we make humans an outside and preeminent force over nature. We (falsely) imbue ourselves with god-like power to “control” nature. In this case, “control” means we get what we want without self-annihilating effects. For who could say that they are in “control” of a plummeting airliner headed for a crash just because they still have the ability to move the throttle.

Now, if humans are one with nature, then the only thing they can do to it is alter it. They cannot “destroy” nature. Only if we conceive of ourselves as living on a different plane from nature can we “destroy” it. And, only if we conceive of nature as immutable can we “destroy” it. But nature is always in flux including any flux that results from human action. There is no immutable nature to “destroy” or to “restore.” We cannot run entropy in reverse and reassemble the universe into exactly a state that existed in the past, not anywhere.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

 

 

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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