On Ecology and Climate, Sad to Say, Scientists Told You So

Choose your fate, embrace an ecology ethic, or die

Choose your fate, embrace an ecology ethic, or die

Given long-predicted and self-evident abrupt climate change and ecosystem collapse, and resultant perma-war and rise of fascism, despite decades of scientific warnings which went unheeded; will you now listen to science, embrace an ecology ethic, and act to avoid biosphere collapse and the end of being before it is too late?

“One last time swords must be beaten into plowshares (and restored ecosystems)… Simply, pollution of land, air, and water must end or we all needlessly die” – Dr. Glen Barry

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Deep ecology essays by Dr. Glen Barry, EcoInternet

Essentially every warning from ecological and climate scientists regarding the limits to growth have come to pass. Climate models have been amazingly accurate, if anything under-predicting the magnitude of the climate apocalypse dramatically playing out in Polar Regions and radiating heat globally. Water, farmland, soil, wetlands, oceans, old-growth forests, and the atmosphere are, as forecasted, in precipitous decline.

Whole regions are collapsing ecologically and are on track to being uninhabitable and will have to be abandoned. Yet demands for inequitable consumption placed upon nature by seven billion top predators continue to grow exponentially (as a billion live in opulent splendor, another billion face abject soul-sucking poverty, and a handful enjoy half of Earth’s wealth).

There are few naturally evolved large ecosystems remaining to cut, burn, and otherwise plunder for short-term ill-gotten gains as the biosphere and society bear the unpriced external costs. Those natural ecosystems that remain are under threat as the oil oligarchy consolidates its power in order to access and burn every last drop of oil and chunk of coal, destroying our atmosphere and last natural ecosystems in the process.

The global ecological system – our one shared biosphere that makes Earth habitable – is collapsing and dying as human industrial growth overruns natural ecosystems and the climate.

Resource scarcity resulting from ecosystem loss, albeit delayed through the advent of information technology, nonetheless underlies the surge in uncontrolled mass migration and diminished economic prospects for the formerly affluent Western middle classes. Landscapes ravaged by industrial capitalism in the developing countries in particular are barren wastelands unable to support indigenous and other local self-reliant lifestyles that provided for quality lives for millennium.

As foreseen by this author, authoritarian fascism has arisen to exploit both environmental decline and surging inequity between the super-rich and multitudinous have-nots. A state of perma-war and institutionalized war murders masked as a clash between cultures are more accurately depicted as a scramble for dwindling resources upon which to base overly consumptive and clearly unsustainable lifestyles for the privileged few for a while more.

Fascist demagogues have arisen that spout charlatan alternative facts as they stifle voices of ecological and other truths.

Environmental and climate crises long perceived as distant or affecting others, but not you, are increasingly impacting average people in their daily lives, particularly in the over-developed world. Food and water systems are failing and prices rising, as regular patterns of seasonality are lost. Jobs based upon ravaging natural ecosystems are a thing of the past, as they are exhausted, and are not coming back. Foreigners from hard scrabble over-populated countries will work far harder for much less and increasingly take even domestic high-tech positions excluding locals.

Our present state of environmental collapse, driven by inequitable over-population and ecosystem loss, fomenting precipitous social and economic decline, was foreseen by ecological scientists. Numerous warnings from a host of ecological visionaries sought to highlight the problems and the course of action required to move towards not only sustainable, but also just and equitable, development.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the preceding work of Malthus, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson and others went mainstream as the self-evident need to protect land, air, and water led to bipartisan efforts.  The ground-breaking Limits to Growth publications highlighted once again the irrefutable fact that exponential growth can only lead to collapse. The advent of micro-processors has pushed back some limits, as others like the absorptive capacity of the atmosphere have clearly been breached. Yet even small, reformist environmental protections have proven inadequate and unable to be maintained.

It has been two years since I proposed a 10th Planetary Boundary in my peer-reviewed scientific journal article entitled Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse regarding how many natural ecosystems can be lost before the biosphere collapses. Noting how smaller ecosystems, indeed anything from which portions are cut, fragment and fall apart at around 40% loss; I proposed a threshold of 66% natural and semi-natural terrestrial ecosystem retention as being required to avoid biosphere collapse.

Despite my pioneering findings being subsequently validated in other studies by scientific luminaries, precisely nothing is being done by world governments and even leading environmental NGOS to begin the process of ending natural ecosystem loss and beginning an age of ecological restoration.

With about 50% of natural ecosystems having been destroyed already there can be no other outcome (after unknown lag times) than biosphere collapse and the end of being.

It is not through lack of effort by others and me that deep ecology has not caught on. Indoctrination into a nationalistic, consumptive worldview is pervasive and all-encompassing. Very few are able to escape the religious, racist, nationalistic, and economic lies forced upon them in youth.

Much of humanity has forgotten that it is possible to live in peace and within the bounds of nature. Social cohesion has dangerously frayed. Poorly educated folks falling from middle class lifestyles, as well as the well-off feasting upon the last ill-gotten fruits of nature, are unable and/or unwilling to grok causal connections between declining natural systems and limited economic prospects, and that such growth can only end in collapse.

Our fatally flawed education system fails to provide the necessary cognitive skills to grasp basic truths – like nothing grows forever, ecosystems make life possible, and water is required for life – upon which our existence depends.

Again, nothing grows exponentially forever, it is a physically impossible.

To deny Malthus, indigenous wisdom, and all subsequent iterations upon ecological knowledge and intuition found in science is sheer utter madness.

The truth of the matter is that while ecological trends are clear, the breaking point of ecosystems and societies is not known with certainty. There may be sources of ecological resiliency of which we are unaware. And given the drive for self-survival of a species can be found in all genetic code, including the hairless ape with the amazing opposable thumb, it would be incautious, indeed ludicrous, to give up.

But we need to quickly change our ways personally and societally to embrace an ecology ethic. We need to listen to ecological and other scientific experts and dramatically reduce industrial and population growth, as well as inequitable over-consumption, or we are faced with ecological apocalypse and biosphere collapse.

One last time swords must be beaten into plowshares (and restored ecosystems).

It is known with certainty that human prospects depend upon functioning natural ecosystems. And the personal and societal changes required to maintain such systems are known with surety as well.

Simply, pollution of land, air, and water must end or we all needlessly die.

To sustain local ecological patterns and processes globally upon which all life depends, old-growth forest logging and industrial scale marine fisheries MUST cease immediately, and massive investments in natural ecosystem restoration be made. Decentralized renewable energy grids and nega-watts from energy conservation must be embraced with utmost urgency as fossil fuel burning ends. Massive investments in women’s education, birth control, and tax incentives for small families must be made worldwide to slow growth and then reduce human population. Genetic modifications and oil intensive agriculture must end as we return to family farming embracing organic permaculture. And all sources of sacred water must be protected whatever the cost.

Fascism and the threats posed by both large governments and corporations must be eliminated. A guaranteed minimum income must be established worldwide. Armies must be demobilized and international institutions strengthened to pay the price for our continued existence, while ending systematic war murders. Liberty, justice, and equity for all members of the human and all species’ family must be ensured.

This course of action is based upon scientific truths, and further ignoring of ecological limits is a willful death wish.

Humanity heeds the warnings of its sage elders and embraces such an ecology ethic now in all haste, or we face intensified abject human misery prior to biosphere collapse and an imminent end to being. Let’s come together now to make it so.

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5 Responses

  1. Felix Schindler says:

    The danger with climate change is the sheer ignorance of many people.
    Scientists all over the world have to raise their voice and their profile to get attention.
    We are running out of time and have to take matters into our own hand if the government fails to act or even reverse previous efforts!

  2. Suswecha Isnala says:

    Dr. Barry, being an ecologist has erhaps the greatest overview of the situation inaccurately called by some, the “Anthropocene”
    There are some inaccuracies extant even in science, reflected by inability to understand concepts arising from mathematics: All mathematical constructs must begin with assumptions, unquestioned bases, platforms. Parallel lines never meet, etc.

    I recently became concerned with AAAS , which org. promotes much that is actually engineering – a trade that uses scientific findings and methods. I believe that an ecologist such as Dr. Barry can illuminate mistakes occurring through conflation of “we can fix” engineering with the pursuit of accurate understanding that is science. Complex systems can easily be perturbed significantly by relatively small variables. Modern engineering of complex systems such as unclear power generation has recently resulted in designing of materials that were found to deteriorate at levels in the range of an order of magnitude greater than designers understood Check San Onofre’s reasons for shutdown.
    The hydrology and geology of Yucca Mountain, after original amazing-seeming metallurgical and tunnel building, surprised the relevant scientists by showing that water supposedly not percolating into the system for thousands of years, actually did so within 50.

    To return:
    The Anthropocene is more properly termed and Extinction Event, as geologic ages last millions of years, epochs tens of millions. Thus teh human time of technologies interfering with teh earth on any large scale is merely and event like a catastrophic collision with an asteroid or meteor.

    It appears I must jump around a bit to address human misperceptions, unless I forge an essay. I hope Dr. Barry will run with some of these concepts.

    Darwin was quite young when understanding Malthus led him to both drop his inherited fantastical religious bent, that factor however remaining a popular fantasy, wherein care for vulnerable evanescent life is replaced with fiction. While we’ve found that adaptation to difficult environments occur through epigenetic means even within individual organisms before even their conception (study just the two most prominent forms, DNA methylation, and histone acetylation/deacetylation, to understand this), catastrophically fast changes to systems still doom species, and far larger families, and even clades of life.
    It takes a million to several million years for life to regain the undulating stability of functioning ecosystems, should they have to begin again from scratch following a great extinction event.

    Homo sapiens is subject to many of the same difficulties occurring in highly social primates. Extreme stress occurs due to temporary coalitionsseeking what we’ve termed dominant status.
    Modern humans largely accept this relatively aberrant sociality, engaging only in distraction inoffensive to those who have achieved status/domination. All this bs over team “sports” and vicarious identification is, as philosopher Marx observed, a mere”opiate” for the masses. Worse, such such willingness to submit leading to the formation fo armies, is so aberrant that it has no precedent except in eusocial insects wherein one alone produces all offspring, most slavishly supporting the species. Yet, humans manipulate outside of visible lifeform nature, paving over (a major factor in habitat fragmentation), purposely extinguishing nearly all predators and even the large herbivores outside of a very few species used as food, work slaves, comfort slaves. Impoverished ecosystems are very easily taken down by fertile nature, but more of that later.

    Observing microorganisms, I am fascinated by the increase in emergence of viruses and variants. SARS, MERS CoV, and the other respiratory and neuroaffective viruses. Once, humans only dealt with perhaps a single species of Vibrio bacteria; recently some other members of this genus, which favors warm brackish water, have become more virulent. Whenever I see brutal and cruel human violence, whenever what little possessions I care to own out of need are taken by the unsociable when I am too long near a city, I feel pleased that we are being outcompeted by nature’s other DNA options. Relief will not come within a single lifetime; an organism as Malthus and Darwin understood, has a strong likelihood of living only in the time when the species is overbloomed. Yet I keep looking to indicators of a fall.
    We have for too long conceived of even a slowing of population growth as catastrophic, when in fact ALL species known fluctuate in any system in which they function. I think of quorum sensing and increases in toxicity and vulnerability to emergent disease in overdense populations.

    We would have it that humans see the obvious, act to prevent such events when their habits are producing the symptoms Dr. Barry mentions. But the evidence suggests, contrary to our overinflated opinion of a Machiavellian social trait, symbolic verbal ideation, rather than exposing reality, merely creates mroe fantasy, and we do not even see that we follow exactly patterns seen in bacteria or any temporarily overblooming organism. Like some toxic redtide over earth, we remove elements essential to other life, poisoning them all.
    One day, it is true, we will die off and drift to the bottom, forming a stratum. Geologists in Nebraska and Saskatchewan, I think as I walk in the indistinct bowl of a huge caldera, found evidence of the last great eruption occurring here, in two inches of ash deposited in those places two thousand miles away.
    I love life, especially the decade I traded all for wild adventures with an unfortunately captive-born wolf. I originally accepted his bond as he repeatedly escaped the attempts of his “rescuers” to dominate and subjugate that magnificent intelligent sensorily aware species, which has lived ten times the length of our own. I originally accepted it out of pity, compassion, aloha. He could read illness and injury, age, and presence far better than any limited solipsistic creature calling theirself “sapinens”, sapient.
    That bond, once described by the Ojibway, as walking together, learning, naming, knowing all things, but parting, with their fates forever tied together, is described in this way:
    “What is done to one, will be the fate of the other.”

    Should you ignore the validity of the wolf, or the vaquita, or the butterfly, elephant, rhinoceros, tiny smelt, polar bear, redwood or teak tree, it will be your own fate will follow that which you impose upon them. Greedy republicans and selfish democrats, or any who demand ignorance, all will, the sage knows, merely retrace the path, fill the cenotaph they dig for others.

    • Suswecha Isnala says:

      Originally, before it became diatribe, I was going to append links to some issues.

      But I enjoyed my typographical errors (like unclear for nuclear!) so much that I forgot.

      While rewilding is a highly important concept, some scientists conflate it with resurrection of Pleistocene species, which may have been lost in part due to a human penchant for banding together to exterminate.
      See a case of this conflation in this news article: https://phys.org/news/2016-02-experts-urge-extreme-caution-rewilding.html
      THe “experts” are more likely conservators of the human financial status quo. The wider discussion of species resurrection found in DNA recombination (again, NOT a science, but like the medical industry, engineering – using discoveries made scientifically) is of interest, as large parts of Siberia melt, exposing some increasing amounts of DNA from Mammoths. These are a grassland species, and so long as humans desire ivory trinkets, would be at grave continuing risk.
      THe chimerical methods necessary to resurrect are of interest, though; humans have long made the caribou servile to their interests. Something as irascible as elephants, if not rewarded by a bullet, would be an interesting inhabitant to encounter once again.
      Before continuing, I’ll mention some of the large coalitional efforts used by humans to take, take away, eradicate:
      Buffalo jumps in the Great Plains show evidence of running bison toward a funnel (perhaps the cairn-buidling craze was involved, as it was used in subarctic and elsewhere for other species), and the panicked animals ran over cliffs. India and Africa had large teams of “beaters” to scare predators and others toward killing grounds. Even Euroamerican colonists inn places liek Pennsylvania used the firearm variation of dispersing into huge, circle (as much as 100 mile diameter or more) and marching inward, periodically firing, until ALL mammals were concentrated in a kill zone, where the “hunters” reloaded and fired as fast as possible to exterminate all the wildlife. The prospective farmers benefited. Such extermination has resulted in the idea that humans can or should “manage’ other species of life.

      I would like readers to note that indigenous, or at least, originally ecologically-released humans, did not differ from modern humans; thus the claims made in recent years in favor of indigenous are merely self-serving genes, as Dawkins put it. THe innit and inupiat, these days having control over North America’s arctic, regard any animal visible in range of their modern technology – guns, motor vehicles, (there are even horror stories of young inuit discovering where polar bears are through radiocollars attached for scientific monitoring, firing up the snow machine, shooting the rare bear, to get showered with adulation at being a “man.”), as “gifts” by some dissociated “great” spirit favoring them.
      Result: long-distance death and increased need for more, more more.

      North American bison, appear to have outcompeted the Mammoth, Mastodon, Sloth, and others, perhaps leading to loss of the great Pleistocene predators. In part, one would expect introduced zoonotic diseases to have been a factor. THe testosterone rush of team big-game hunting was merely a contributing factor, and speculations/hypotheses of single factor extinction is unlikely.
      But modern rewilding, a concept of action and advocacy to prevent anthropogenic extinction formed in the 1990s with such esteemed conservation biologists as Michael Soule’, Whose work should form part of the education of all. Others included Dave Foreman, whose early work fr legislators segued into advocacy for wilderness and native wildlife.
      Out of this, through the understanding of biogeography by Wilson, MacArthur et al. that fragmented ecosystems led to much greater reductions in diversity and population numbers of species.
      From that, such efforts as
      THe larger, and thus more important north-south corridors in the face of climate change include this one (while identification has been done , little to no action has yet occurred):
      Here’s a remnant connectivity map made back in 1991 by the Wildlands Project:

      So we see that small local efforts are made to reconnect habitats to save land species, but these are countered by those greedy and solipsistic cancerlike minds I mentioned. (MORE! More than YOU!)

      Here, by the way, is a link to introductory definitions of necessary types of connectivity to undo the fragmentation that Wilson et al.s biogeographic loss modeling warned of, now occurring so distressingly in Africa, North America, and elsewhere:

      Its pure overfishing and pollution, along with establishment of fish farming, that is damaging the ocean’s large species. Yet this will soon include the changes of acidification due to absorption of CO2 from excessive greenhouse gas emissions by humans.
      When diatoms, corals and shellmaking zooplankton cannot create calcium carbonate , the basis of the food chains there will show abyssal cascades of population diminution over all species. Sort of like the Permian extinction, wherein over 95% of all earth’s species disappeared..

      So I waste my time advocating against ALL fish farming endeavors, while many scientists promote the engineering of these reverse food chain-enterprises.
      This leads to the marketing of salmon krill oil, and farmed fish in general for “health” – kind of like ideas of fantastic “singularities” entertained by subadolescent minds believing in eternal spotless machine lives, with no need for earth or biotic life at all. Health found by killing the future – what a concept.

      You know, the wolf was change. I watched him take wild ungulates, watched him crunch bones into bone meal scat I marveled at. Watched the bear, raccoon, ravens, gobble the remains. I also watched the wolf grab and strip the remains that bear and age took, making it into hair that small birds took for insulation of eggs, watched the slugs feed on scat, watched constant change, until the wolf himself died, and I placed him reverently looking north to his kind. I visited only onnce, a couple days later, seeing the majestic vultures, silent, take what he left, to soar and distribute. I hope that this generous fate will also occur to my body, instead of the mean selfishboexd burial below range of the diggers, or the profoundly selfish burning denying food to bear, coyote, raven, wolf. I once saw deer feeding at shoreline, and approached, seeing that they were actually feeding with their lower teeth (they have no uppers) on a dried fish body.
      Acid rain might finally percolate through the concrete denying regeneration , covering thick and black soils filled with life. But I, too conflate tomorrow with thousands of years. Such small minds we have.

  3. Penny Melko says:

    I’m in the early stages of winding through this long essay by a theology professor who clearly breaks down Christianity’s disconnect with nature. This is well worth reading.

    “I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all
    flesh” (Genesis 9.15).
    This series of six sermons beginning on Quinquagesima and concluding on Passion Sunday aims
    to bind together the readings from Holy Scripture set for Pre-Lent and Lent so as to uncover the
    forgotten teaching of the Church concerning the relations of nature, humanity, and God. The
    sermons will draw on the lections set for the Eucharist, Matins, and Evensong during this season.


    Like many of you, I’m overwhelmed by the utter disrepect of nature, from attempted “management” of animals to the die off and pollution affecting their liveability.

  4. Peter John Hirst says:

    The question is what is to replace our rampant consumerism? The answer is a deeper understanding of how the mind works and how we obtain our experience of life. With this, as enunciated by Sydney Banks we can live fulfilling lives while experience life’s true treasures without needing more than our basic needs.

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