Monday, September 05, 2016

The Global boneyard, chinless dildos and glimmers of light (1)

Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe.
(John Muir, environmentalist, preservationist and known in the U.S. as the “Father of the National Parks,” 1838-1914)

In the beginning

At the present time, with 7.2 billion self-absorbed humans wandering around on the Earth, we're probably at least 4 billion over the carrying capacity of the planet to support all life, sustain itself and insure a viable ecosystem. Simply put, our technology has easily outstripped our evolutionary development. We Homo-sapiens have just barely climbed down from the trees and begun our cautious journey across the savanna.

But as hope springs eternal in the minds of us humans, there are a few faint signs for cautious optimism in a handful of locations on the planet. There are indications that where there is good governance and control of corruption there is some decrease in environmental pressures. As well, regions of high urbanization may have positive effects in that housing and infrastructure needs are not spread across the larger landscape. This is the good news.

The bad news is that at the present time more than 70 percent of Earth's eco-regions have shown a large increase in their human footprint. For those interested in some of the specifics a good place to begin is a study in NatureCommunications.

Being anything you want to be

Of course it's in the realm of possibility that a Silicon Valley billionaire will come up with a product to save all of us in the nick of time or some software engineer in Mumbai, India will create the "miracle code or maybe an obscure scientist in Shanghai, China will transform the primitive Limbic system in the brain, allowing us to make a “quantum leap” into the 21st century.

Last but most certainly not least the Kurzweillian-phantasmagorical-transhuman-cum-cyborg, brought to us by the futurist Ray Kurzweil, could arrive at the last possible moment and save the planet.

More than likely, however, there will be no techno-fix, no Libertarian John Gault galloping in on his unicorn, and most assuredly no bronze-age invisible sky god that will make the bad things go away.

This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
Not with a bang but a whimper.
(From The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot)

The world is this way

Excluding the Syrian apocalypse of course at the present time … well, possibly Somalia, maybe Sudan, and yes Libya, and how can we forget Iraq … actually most of the Arab world in general to be fair. Then there is Afghanistan maybe Pakistan in South and Central Asia, the former Soviet republics and those island nations sinking beneath the sea because of rising sea levels, and....

Asia is where the action is today. In Southeast Asia Indonesia is destroying its rainforests as fast as possible to create more and more palm oil plantations, the ingredient that's used by the snack manufacturers and personal care products and cosmetics, among others. Greed, corruption and human ignorance make everything that much easier of course—anywhere.

Moving up to Northeast Asia, Japan's aging population is continuing to practice its cultural cuisine. It's a sideshow in the global scheme of things but a telling commentary on humankind. In addition to the hunting of whales for, er, scientific purposes, there is the annual bloodbath festival that may have been going on for a thousand years. Dolphins are rounded up in a cove, the “prettiest” sold to aquariums and the rest clubbed to death for the meat.

Zhonggou—The Middle Kingdom

China right now, with its rapidly increasing economic and military might and strict authoritarianism, has perhaps become the tarnished gold standard for much of the world. Its overriding historical imperative, in addition to the reinvention of some modern day Middle Kingdom, seems to be the creation of a vast global plantation, sort of an updated 16th and 17th century European mercantilism. Africa and South America are its current targets and the ends are sure to justify any possible means for the billionaire technocrats who run the “peoples republic.”

One of the grand Chinese proposals is to build a 3,300 mile-long railway line through the Amazon rainforest to access soya plantations and mining regions, a potential environmental disaster of monumental proportions. *

China single-handedly may be responsible for the extinction of numerous wildlife throughout the world, perhaps the best known example being the elephant, a keystone species, hunted for its ivory and other body parts including its feet that are cut off and used for stools by the wealthy in every sink hole across the planet.

This is the way the world ends. But perhaps not.

NEXT: Chasing the carnival in the U.S., 2016

* Amazon's forests hold approximately 90-140 tons of carbon, around 9-14 years of current global, annual human induced carbon emissions.

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