EARTH MEANDERS: Resisting Global Ecological Change

By Dr. Glen Barry, EcoInternet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk
Shared survival requires powering down, going back to the land, and ecological resistance.
The human family faces imminent and (Copenhagen would suggest) inevitable collapse of the biosphere – the thin layer of life upon an otherwise lifeless planet – that makes Earth habitable. Marshes and rivers and forests and fish are far more than resources – they and all natural ecosystems are a necessity for humanity's existence upon Earth. A few centuries of historically unprecedented explosion in human numbers and surging, albeit inequitable, consumption and resultant resource use, ecosystem destruction and pollution; is needlessly destroying being for all living things. Revolutionary action such as ending coal use, reforming industrial agriculture and protecting and restoring old forests and other natural ecosystems, is a requirement for the continuation of shared human being.
Earth is threatened by far more than a changing atmosphere causing climate change. Cumulative ecosystem destruction – not only in climate, but also water, forests, oceans, farmland, soils and toxics — in the name of "progress" and "development" — threatens each of us, our families and communities, as well as the Earth System in total and all her creatures. Any chance of achieving global ecological sustainability depends urgently upon shifting concerns regarding climate change to more sufficiently transform ourselves and society to more broadly resist global ecological change. Global ecological, social and economic collapse may be inevitable, but its severity, duration and likelihood of recovery are being determined by us now. It does not look good as the environmental movement has been lacking in its overall vision, ambition and implementation.

The growing numbers of ecologically literate global citizens must come forward to together start considering ecologically sufficient emergency measures to protect and restore global ecosystems. We need a plan that allows humans and as many other species as possible to survive the coming great ecological collapse, even as we work to soften the collapse, and to restore to the extent practicable the Earth's ecosystems. This mandates full protection for all remaining large natural ecosystems and working to reconnect and enlarge biologically rich smaller remnants that still exist. It is time for a hard radical turn back to a fully functioning and restored natural Earth which will require again regaining our bond with land (and air, water and oceans), powering down our energy profligacy, and taking whatever measures are necessary to once again bring society into balance with ecosystems.
This may mean taking all measures necessary to stop those known to be destroying ecosystems for profit. As governments dither and the elite profit, it has become dreadfully apparent that the political, economic and social structures necessary to stop human ecocide of our and all life's habitats does not yet exist. The three hundred year old hyper-capitalistic and nationalistic growth machine eating ecosystems is not going to willingly stop growing. But unless it does, human and most or all other life will suffer a slow and excruciating apocalyptic death. Actions can be taken now to soften ecological collapse while maximizing the likelihood that a humane and ecologically whole Earth remains to be renewed.
Geoengineering Won't Work
The only "Plan B" offered by the ruling elite is to actively consider geoengineering global ecological processes and countless other techno-fixes. Rather than power down or sacrifice, it appears we as a species are willing to gamble with long odds with our and all lives. As if scouring all sorts of ecosystems of their life, global polluting industrialism, and embrace of consumption as the meaning of life is not enough of a load for global ecosystems. Now it is proposed we further alter oceans and the atmosphere unnaturally at a global scale to engineer a biosphere. Humans cannot control most invasive species, keep oil out of water, or feed everyone; yet now we are fit to run the biosphere? Unintended, inequitable and horrendous consequences are assured.
Gaia – the Earth System – is far too complex to engineer and trying will seal the demise of our shared, finely honed, and naturally evolved biosphere. Geoengineering and the blind faith in technology it represents can only lead to further degradation of ecosystems and biosphere, over population and consumption, while virtually annihilating any chance of maintaining a natural and habitable Earth. It would be far better to embrace ecological restoration and other necessary policy measures including ending coal, industrial agricultural and old forest logging. A biosphere can never be engineered, but it may be planted, tended and assisted to restore itself. First you take the pressure off ecosystems, and then allow and assist them to naturally recover. Global ecological protection and restoration is the only sort of human ecosystem manipulation that can save us now.
Given the momentum of seven billion super-predators consuming ecosystems to meet their every (and endless) whims, it is not possible to stop social, economic and ecological collapse. But there is a still chance of a worthy human society post economic and ecological collapse if we return to the land, power down and resist. It is all about having as much intact ecosystems as possible to lighten the blow and reconstitute society and ecosystems post-collapse. Here, and in my forth-coming book "New Earth Rising", as a political ecologist I offer a very different plan to the blind faith in technological progress that removes us more from natural life-giving ecosystem processes and patterns. Perhaps this can be called Plan "ER" for Earth Restoration.
Powering Down
It is a global ecological imperative that we begin dismantling the industrial growth machine to return to honest, well-lived and simple lifestyles – protecting, tending and restoring natural agro-ecosystems. Though terribly difficult given the choices society presents us, each of us must begin the process of getting off the grid, dramatically cutting our energy use and refusing to consume energy from burning fossil fuels. There will come a time where dismantling roads, industries and cities will be appropriate. We must insist that society's resources are used towards these ends. But make no mistake, no amount of "renewable energy" can allow current, much less predicted, excessive energy usage for everything from our food to our transport to our housing to continue.
The "slowing" economy in the over-developed world is the logical conclusion of disease like growth in human populations, resource use and consumption. Highly satisfying for some for awhile, but such ecocidal resource binging cannot and will not last. And now the entire world, including the 2 billion that live on under $2 a day, understandably and justly want better lives. Sadly though, through the power of corporate media, most poor style the ideal life upon the excesses of the West. This means they undervalue their own more ecologically sustainable and personally satisfying lifestyles and livelihoods driven by community and sharing. Life is clearly more than what you own and consume, it is what you do and who you are that counts. And it is never too late to make positive changes.
Both personally and societally we must wean ourselves from gluttonous energy use and conspicuous over-consumption, and demand political and social structures that compel others do so as well. As individuals we are faced with much outside of our control, so it won't all happen at once, but each of us must begin disengaging ourselves from the dominant growth paradigm, and begin to achieve some measure of self-sufficiency. Start by becoming as independent from slave wage labor and marketing neuroses as fast as financially feasible. Those that voluntarily begin to power down will be at an enormous advantage as the ecological shit hits the fan. And there is no better place to start than loving and being one with a piece of land. The land, think always of the land.
Back to the Land
The age of Ecological Restoration will be predicated upon a return to the land to practice local agrarian democracy. There is no chance of survival post economic, social and ecological collapse if you do not have a homestead – a piece of land, with water, good soils, tools, seeds and other implements of self-sufficiency. Cities are artificial constructs that consume resources from far and wide, and whose resource use and pollution can never be sustained. When collapse hits, billions will die there in a very short time, as the modern and ecologically illiterate learn food and water does not come from grocery stores and taps. Living the good life – or for that matter any life at all – will soon not be possible unless you have prepared your land and are willing and able to defend it. This does not necessarily suggest survivalist paranoia, as when the rains stop and Earth grows parched, it is highly likely mobility will cease and we will be left to live where we are.
Prepare to live upon land within the limits of your bioregion. There are many opportunities to pursue alternative sharing communities. Large numbers of well-networked people locally, and on the Internet for as long as it lasts, going back to the land to live in an ecologically sustainable manner is the second component of a radical turn away from inappropriate technology and economic growth; to a restoration economy, living more fulfilling lives with the land and reintegrating humans with nature. Even the richest countries still possess relatively inexpensive land with remnant ecosystems that can be assisted to enlarge. Not-yet-over-developed countries still hold much potential for self-support. We must all relearn to plant and tend our forest gardens, organic permaculture and native ecosystems starting now and for eternity.
As with any animal, we cannot long persist without intact habitat. Human well-being all comes back to the state of the land and its soil and biota. When we protect and restore land – water, oceans and atmosphere are much improved as well. It has long been known that full and sensible lives are possible from living within a local bioregion's bounty. The explosive growth in everything is a new phenomenon and cannot and will not be sustained under any conditions. It is not necessary to work so hard to acquire stuff. Much satisfaction comes from being one with land, having a loving family and community, and enjoying the arts, sports, literature and other aspects of culture we love. Ecological collapse will still be wrenching, but on the land you and a civilized way of life have a fighting chance. Live simply, laugh often and love deeply.
Ecological Resistance
The next stage towards ecological enlightenment and serving Gaia is passive refusal to participate in the system, escalating through various stages of resistance until known ecocidal activities are ended – and ecosystems protected and widely restored – as soon as possible. No one including this political ecologist is suggesting that imminently we should start waging violent revolution against the speculative industrial growth machine that is killing us all. At this time we would lose an outright fight. But clearly it is time to have a conversation regarding what other types of protest activities besides petitions and protests are valid in a dying world, even within supposed democracies.
What the Earth System needs badly right now is a million acts of resistance to obstruct and eventually destroy the ecologically unsustainable economic growth machine. There is an immediate need to vigorously obstruct the growth machine through active non-participation in the speculative industrial system. At some point others may wish to consider destruction of Earth destroying equipment through carefully targeted acts of sabotage. And if this fails, we may come to realize a need to pursue more revolutionary acts, such as insurgency and guerrilla warfare. From time to time through human history it has been necessary to wage war to promote greater justice, equity and freedom – and now perhaps ecological sustainability as well.
Those that are so enamored with Gandhi and King that they cannot even broach the subject of possible revolutionary tactics are na


  1. Dear Friends,
    Perhaps necessary change is in the offing. As currently structured, the global economy appears not to be working well and could be fast approaching a point in human history when the manmade “economic colossus” becomes too big not to fail because of its unsustainability in the finite and frangible world we inhabit.
    Although many of you appear to be correct in so much of what you report, I have held onto hope for more, much more intellectual honesty, moral courage and bold action from leaders in my not-so-great generation as a way of responding ably to the global challenges that have emerged in my lifetime. Perhaps there is still time available to reasonably acknowledge and sensibly address the converging global challenges that loom before humanity now. At least one of these ominous global challenges, the human overpopulation of Earth, is clearly visible for all to see if not for the willful blindness, hysterical deafness and elective mutism of many too many leaders and experts. Their disregard of the best available science as well as their specious ideological presumptions, the ones derived from the culturally extolled virtue of unbridled greed on one hand and the endless global growth of human production, consumption and propagation activities on the other, appear to be directing the children down a short, patently unsustainable “primrose path” to an unimaginable confrontation with some sort of colossal ecological wreckage, I suppose.
    Thanks again to all for speaking out loudly and clearly.

  2. While it is indeed risky, there is no evidence that a biosphere must never be engineered. Perhaps there are lifeforms elsewhere in the universe who have done so successfully.

  3. Sin duda alguna el deterioramiento del planeta tierra es cada vez mas evidente y se hace presente de manera mas palpable en nuestras vidas. Ciudades en las cuales no es posible respirar aire puro, racionamientos de agua y energia. La falta de liderasgo de los lideres mundiales hacia los problemas ambientales que estamos afrontando hace mas confusa y dificil la manera de encontrar una salida ha este proble. Mientras como en paises en via de desarrollo de donde provengo los politicos maquinan las diferentes formas de robarce el dinero destinado a los proyectos de desarrollo, los politicos de los paises desarrollados parecen divertirce y disfrutar la corrupcion que nos agobia. Como individuo y habitante de Gaia busco ayudar a la problematica ambiental estudiando las formas de administrar los recursos naturales y procurar su eficiente uso. Esta es una tarea muy dificil por que me enfrento a personas cuyo objetivo es acumular riqueza sin importar el precio que los ecosistemas tenga que pagar. Invito a todas las personas que se interezan por el medio ambiente a que estudien los diferentes ecosistemas que nos ofrece este maravilloso planeta, se enamoren de el, y nos consienticemos que la vida es mas que acumular riquezas.
    Gracias a todos las personas de mente abierta que entiende que la atmosfera es la misma para todos en este planeta tierra.

  4. You guys need to keep up this great work.. I mean where else would we get this information? You are the only daring, gutsy, truly progressive environmental group out there. I admire you. And as soon as I have some $$$ (in a minute, I hope!) I will be donating to you for sure. Rock on.

  5. Consciously and willfully getting it wrong in a time when greed rules.
    Please consider that the neo-classical economics practiced today could be an example of pathological growth… a particularly virulent disease infecting the human community that may not be 'discovered' until it is too late to do anything about it.
    Hey Fed, What's Going On?
    By Eric Jackson
    12/30/09 – 06:05 AM EST
    Last week, Canadian hedge fund manager Eric Sprott published a white paper titled, “Is it all just a Ponzi scheme?” . The document digs into who is actually purchasing the recent Federal Reserve U.S. Treasury auctions and concludes that the biggest new buyer this year vs. last year is actually the U.S. government. Hence the Ponzi scheme allusion: One arm of the federal government is running huge deficits and quantitative easing programs that are being financed in part by another arm of that government. How can this story not get more attention from others in the press, in politics, or in the market? Sprott is an unapologetic bear. He and David Rosenberg must hang out in the same coffee shops of Toronto and share notes. Therefore, his views regularly get dismissed by some with a rosier view of life. At some point, if you're a relentless bear — like Roubini, Rogers, Rosenberg, Abelson, and probably Whitney now — people stop listening to your content. “This is the 'end-of-the-world' guy again,” you think, “I know what he's about and don't have to listen.” Yet, Sprott is also Canada's most successful hedge fund manager and clearly someone who does his homework. Here's his argument about what's gone on with the Fed and Treasury purchases this year. In order to fund bigger deficits, the U.S. government in 2009 has had to sell three times the amount of debt it issued in 2008. That amounts to an extra $1.89 trillion in debt sales as of December, according to the U.S. Treasury. So who is buying these additional issuances? According to the Fed's own disclosures, foreign buyers have stepped up their purchases, but only by an additional 23% over 2008 levels. The Fed itself has increased its purchases by 60% from last year. The third group, which has increased its debt purchases from $90 billion in 2008 to $680 billion this year, if it keeps on its current trajectory, is “other investors.” And who are these other investors? Sprott identifies that $528 billion of the $680 billion for this category was for Treasury purchases made by “the Household Sector.” It turns out that this sub-grouping isn't actual households buying Treasuries but a general catch-all sub-category for any residuals left over from the other categories. Specifically quoting the Fed's definition of this sub-category: “The amounts of Treasury securities held by all other sectors, obtained from asset data reported by the companies or institutions themselves, are subtracted from total Treasury securities outstanding, obtained from the Monthly Treasury Statement of Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government and the balance is assigned to the household sector.” In other words, it's not clear who is making these additional $528 billion in purchases this year — or roughly 28% of the total. Sprott's conclusion is that it's the Fed itself that is responsible for these purchases and he then makes the link between this and running a giant Ponzi scheme. Sprott, to back up his assertion, also notes that Bill Gross — who is no longer purchasing U.S. Treasuries for the world's largest mutual fund — has referred to the U.S. as a “ponzi-style economy.” It bothers me that a sole hedge fund manager is connecting these dots, rather than other journalists, politicians, regulators, or other market actors. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has yet to be held accountable for what's going on with these purchases. The Fed's own data here is sufficient to call out for a more explicit explanation of what's going on. We endlessly hear about Ron Paul's quixotic campaign to “audit the Fed.” Yet, where is he on this issue that's already in plain sight, not requiring any additional audit? It gives me little confidence that even if he's granted special powers to go in and examine what's going on at the Fed, he will be able to first identify and then correct problems that warrant attention. Growing up, we all watched Mike Wallace go after crime and corruption on “60 Minutes,” but no equivalent to him exists today in the business press. “60 Minutes” itself, when it does cover economic news, covers it either in an overly simplistic way that plays to “Joe Main Street” but doesn't lead to any changes. Examples are the TV news magazine's “expose” on credit default swaps or a chummy Steve Kroft interview with President Obama. We assume the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal or Barron's will turn up the kinds of interesting data that Sprott did and turn it into a Page One story until it gets rectified in some way. But even these fabled institutions have missed this story. I don't care if the economy is in a fragile state: Taxpayers deserve to know what's really going on. We're after truth here. Market actors are grown-ups actually. They should know exactly what's on the books of Citigroup(C Quote), Wells Fargo(WFC Quote) and what's going on at the Fed. These types of self-dealing shenanigans are the stuff that stunk up Enron. And now we have the whiff of it happening at the Federal Reserve and no one's taken a look at this? We live in an age in which we all piously pronounce, after the fact, that it was obvious Dubai and Greece were going to blow up. We all knew housing was a bubble. We denounce Alan Greenspan as having been way behind the curve. Yet where were those criticisms before the fact? No doubt that if trouble comes next year which relates back to Fed self-dealing, we'll all say, “Oh yeah, we talked about that possibility last Christmas, remember? Yeah, we all knew something wasn't right.” This is human rationalization, but not foresight. We lack the courage and the will to talk about this stuff now in the moment and actually force the Fed to account for itself. Instead, we look away while the Fed tries to reflate this economy like a beat-up old bicycle in the back garage. We all hope the Fed's efforts work and since we don't have any better ideas we shrug our shoulders and get back to our day jobs. It worries me though that no matter how much you try to keep reflating a bicycle wheel with holes in it it still has the holes.

  6. The human family cannot keep recklessly overproducing unnecessary stuff, hyperconsuming and excessively hoarding limited resources, and overpopulating the planet as the leaders in our not-so-great generation are advocating so adamantly. Everyone in the human community appears to be implicated in the work at hand of finding a different way from the patently unsustainable “primrose path” set out by those who extol the virtue of greed and arrogantly proclaim that their greed-mongering is God's work.
    The most dangerous fraud consciously perpetrated in our midst is the widely shared perception that insatiable avarice is an inherent aspect of human nature. Unbridled greed may rule the world in our time but such behavior is contrived ….. a willful, foolish and selfish result of a consensually validated misperception of what is real about the nature of being human, I suppose.

  7. If only the human community could become as deeply curious and openly communicative about what the human species is doing in the world we inhabit as we are about the activities of wealthy and powerful people. Formidable human-induced global threats to human wellbeing and environmental health are just as evident as the conspicuous behaviors of the most greedy among us. To be a species with such remarkable self-consciousness, intelligence and other splendid gifts and to do no better than we are doing now is a source of deep sadness and occasional outbreaks of passionate intensity (likely signifying nothing).
    Still I believe in remaining engaged in this worthwhile struggle, one in which so many human beings with feet of clay have been involved for a lifetime. For me, the first fifty years of life were lived, as you might imagine, as if in a dream world, the one devised by the greed-mongering Masters of the Universe among us. I had no awareness that a single adamant generation would irreversibly degrade Earth's environs, recklessly dissipate its limited resources, relentlessly diminish its biodiversity, destabilize its climate and threaten the very future of children everywhere.
    At least we can speak out loudly, clearly and often about these unfortunate greed-driven circumstances, even though they are discomforting and unwelcome, and in the process educate one another. Like many in the Climate Ark community have already reported, I do not have answers to forbidding questions related to the patently unsustainable 'trajectory' of human civilization in its present, colossally expansive form; but it seems our conscious denial of, and willful refusal to openly acknowledge, “what could somehow be real” means that the requirements of practical “reality” cannot be reasonably addressed and sensibly overcome. A colossal ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort is likely to be the end result of our abject failure, I suppose, to respond courageously and ably to the looming global challenges that appear to have emerged robustly and converged rapidly in our time.

  8. What did "state of the world" reporters know about the unsustainability of greed-driven overconsumerism? When did they know it? Why have they waited until 2010 to take stock and speak the truth that many too many of them have known for a long while?
    Our colossal failure to speak truth to power is allowing the most greedy among us to ruin Earth's environment and deplete its resources.

  9. Again, I am agreed with you, although I think it is more important to make actions than to live on the land. People on the land are not so fast organized like, let's say, people in factory with ten thousand workers. People should be good connected, to be together in daily life, in order to make mass resistance. But I wanted also to say that you speak about anarchy in negative way, I am anarchist and we are fighting against the state and capital. You can read more about anarchism at: (there are texts of murray bookchin:, he was eco-anarchist, he is unfortunately dead but his Institut in Vermont still exist:

  10. I'm amazed at the general lack of respect for the power that is; what we call Mother Nature.
    If human beings were to disappear from existence in relatively short time nature would remove all evidence we ever existed.
    We (the human species) are so stupid: we live in areas consistently hit by earthquakes – yet we do not build things that withstand earthquakes and everytime one hits thousands die; we live in areas consistently hit by hurricanes – yet never consider constructing buildings that are aero-dynamic and able to withstand the forces of hurricane strength winds, instead we rebuild the same old structures every time they are destroyed by a hurricane; we live in areas hit by wild fires with such regularity they actually call it a season – yet fire-proofing is beyond them. How can we possibly believe we are powerful enough to damage the environment.
    Climate change is dependent on global warming, which, in turn is dependent on a build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere, but that's impossible, because it would require CO2 to defy the laws of gravity. Let's start using our brains kids.

  11. Dear sir
    We through our orgfanization(IDO) are working for forest rehabilitation and prtection with the support of local community we have established forest protection committees . there are several problems , stories which we want to share through urv network how can we avail this
    Zain Daudpoto
    Executive Director
    Indus Development Organization (IDO)

  12. Dear all,
    I would like to introduce a different approach.
    Much of the world's destruction is done by ignorance and the necessity of hunger. This is a fact that only one can understand when he has faced utter misery.
    If a father has the choice between cutting a tree and see his child die of hunger, what choice do you think he will take? I have regular contact with poor farmers in third world countries. They can't speak for themselves on the net because no-one has a computer over-there.
    The view offered above is pretty much that human species are the grasshopper of the world leading it to its utter destruction.
    But what if we could turn from being a grasshopper to living in symbiosis with nature? Not engineering huge intensive agricultural exploitation to grow cattle and wheat, but growing forest and natural habitat to harvest their fruits? It is proven that rainforest is more productive and profitable when sustainably exploited than cattle pastures. (See all the work on permaculture for instance)
    It does not have to be a power down, but not powering down requires to create a city inside the forested lands without impacting on it. It is potentially possible, but it requires a lot of imagination, a great deal of engineering and long hours of studies to understand the world you want to protect and care for.
    This is the move forward, the only one that can save the planet.

  13. Dear Glen,
    I dare say that the global effort at sustainability and conservation puts the rest of the world to shame in view of the limited number of people like you that are in the forefront of environmental stewardship and human development. I've been following the trend in the debate and effort at stemming the negative impact of human activities on the environment and the prevailing inequality of different peoples of the world. No lie, sometimes I cry deep inside when I realize that human indifference and sometimes greed threatens the very fabric of civilization. Excluding very few people like you, your selfless sacrifices, proactive and practical actions towards healing the injustices of man to the environment and mans exploitation of their own kind the world over, all the other stakeholders albeit the strategic and important interests, merely pay lip service to the issue and do nothing to change the current trend that would hasten the implosion of our present civilization i.e. the G8, the UN and national governments.
    I hail your effort. If you can, please keep me updated on recent development and action plan to blossom and nourish the central theme of your effort. I need to know how I can help financially.
    I am a widower now. But I don't complain when I remember that there are billions of people out there that can't figure out how to get the next meal regardless of the abundance of resources and wealth where they are; which if shared accordingly by the way, would improve the welfare and satisfaction of the majority of the citizens of the world. I must confess, I was in the oil industry business. The track record of my company and the way we did business back in the days was dismal with regards to environmental protection, human resources management and responsibility towards the host community and people there-in. I feel I owe humanity on this note.
    I hope your day is unfolding nicely. Have a fulfilling and wonderful week. I hope to hear from you soon.
    Mr. Simeoni

  14. I'm amazed at the general lack of respect for Earth. Humans can't keep recklessly overproducing unnecessary stuff, consuming and excessively hoarding limited resources, and overpopulating the planet as the leaders in our generation are advocating this.

  15. Corporations are the worst violators of the planet, and generally speaking, the bigger the corporation, the worse its violations.
    Local land stewardship is our only hope.
    I appreciated this post. thanks.

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